It should come as no surprise to those who know me well that I can be a touch arrogant and egocentric. For example, this time last year, as HA suddenly rose to prominence during the gubernatorial election contest, I stepped up my blogging efforts for fear of what the progressive community might lose should I stop. HA had quickly grabbed a dominant position in the local political blogosphere, both in terms of raw traffic and perhaps more importantly, in media attention. If I were to suddenly stop blogging, I wondered, would my traffic simply dissipate? Was there anybody else who could fill my role?
I’ve got no idea if those concerns were ever warranted, but I certainly don’t hold them anymore. I was in Olympia this weekend attending a conference of Northwest progressive bloggers, and if I have any fear now, it is that some other talented, energetic, local blogger is going to overtake me and knock me from my throne.
Organized by the NW Progressive Institute and sponsored by the SEIU, Progressive Majority for WA and the Institute for WA’s Future, the conference attracted over thirty bloggers from Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Friday afternoon and evening we held panel discussions and a reception at the Capitol, attended by Democratic legislators and their staff, as well as several members of the “traditional media.” Yesterday, us bloggers gathered for workshops and discussions that extended well beyond the scheduled 9 AM to 5 PM program.
Lynn Allen and John Stahl of Evergreen Politics did a great job facilitating the events (complicated by the constant need to shut me up and prevent me from speaking out of turn.) And of course, Andrew Villeneuve of NPI deserves a ton of credit for being the driving force behind organizing the event.
I’ll leave it to other attendees to blog on the details of the conference, but I just wanted to briefly comment on the incredible growth in size and effectiveness of the local progressive blogosphere. Last year at this time, our friend Stefan and his right-wing, nutcase, fellow travelers at (un)Sound Politics were the undisputed kings of the local blogs, consistently pushing headlines, and at their peak drawing twenty times my traffic. While I had more than respectable stats, I was a distant number two, and no other local liberal blog even came close to my traffic.
My how times have changed. (u)SP is still the number one local political blog in raw stats, but on most days barely doubles my traffic. And while much of the rest of the local blogosphere’s right wing has stagnated, growth on the left has exploded. The number of NW progressives now blogging is astounding, and the quality and impact of their writing truly impressive. Much as we have done on the national level, local progressive bloggers have overcome the right’s head start, surpassing them both in total traffic, and in influence.
Stefan now routinely whines about his failure to move his conspiracy theories onto the front pages, while my colleagues and I have notched a string of successes in moving headlines and influencing the opinion makers. While (u)SP’s claim to fame was their role in helping to shape public perception after an election, it is safe to say that 2005 was the first election cycle in which bloggers actually influenced the outcome… and quite frankly, we kicked ass.
Well, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Bloggers are by their nature a bit rebellious, unruly… even subversive. The fact that so many of us would gather in one place, with such unity of purpose, is as encouraging and exciting as the progress we’ve each individually made thus far. We certainly didn’t all agree on every issue, candidate or strategy, but we absolutely share the same goal: to dominate state and local politics, and to take our nation back from the far right. And this weekend’s conference was an important step in that direction.