Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Dilemma of The Liberal Blog World

My wife and I hosted a party in early December in which we entertained a great group of people, including some of the most well-known political bloggers in the metro New York City area. It was a tremendous success and one of those gatherings that contained so many fun, interesting people that, short of the need for sleep, it could have continued for days without losing steam.

As I circulated and talked to everyone, I picked up one common theme: To a person, we all wished that we could do nothing but blog for a living.

Most of us in the room had a couple of other things in common… The first was a passion and drive for justice in our country and for getting rid of the scourge living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and that controls both houses of Congress and the judicial branch of government. The second – and here’s where the problem comes in – is that, in most cases, we work day jobs that are only loosely related to our political passions but that, in many cases, pay the considerable salary required to meet our daily needs and family commitments.

Like me, many of the people attending our party would be willing to exist on very little if it meant we could do nothing but political writing and contributing to George W. Bush getting a one-way bus ticket to prison or, at the very least, back to Crawford, Texas. But that desire doesn’t make our spouses or partners feel any more secure financially, pay the mortgage, maintain health insurance and feed, clothe and educate the children.

So we do what we do, strive as best we can to essentially work two, demanding full-time jobs and try to get by on four hours of sleep a night, while contributing 10-15 posts, over six days a week, for our common cause.

For me, it’s been a labor of love. The friends I’ve made and the difference I believe I’ve made has been exhilarating. Hell, I even managed to pick up a couple of awards along the away… Good stuff to be sure.

But the pace, deadline pressures and lack of compensation – when contrasted with the aforementioned financial imperatives of day-to-day life – create a situation where this simply is not sustainable. Our problem is the same one we liberals seem to perpetually face: No money to support our work.

Meanwhile, you know as a matter of fact that many of the right-wingers we compete with every day are funded by ultra-conservative organizations, if not the Republican National Committee directly.

Some of our liberal brothers and sisters have grown their sites to be so large that they can indeed support themselves on ad revenue and reader contributions and, for that and the huge value they add to our cause, I’m very grateful. That’s not true for me where, despite my readership growing tremendously, awards and accolades and even a few big mentions on Air America Radio and some major, daily newspapers, a change needs to happen.

Something most of you do not know, is that I had emergency brain surgery in November of 2004. (Queue predictable, right-wing jokes about how that explains much about my political outlook.) I’m doing great now and am 110 percent recovered. But the experience of knowing you could have died really makes you think about how you’re living your life and what the hell you’re doing each day. One thing it told me was that I was devoting too much time to my day job and not enough to my wife and son. I fixed that. But it also told me that I needed to be more active against our current national leadership, because that too is the least I owe my young son who will inherit this country sooner than later.

So I traded an obsession with non-political work for endless days and sleepless nights writing about politics on first, the Yellow Dog Blog and now More gratifying for me, but surely not much different for my wife and son.

Again, a change needs to happen here.

I won’t quit. If I do, the bad guys on the Republican side win and people like me and those who attended my December gathering, depart out of sheer exhaustion and leave the stage to people who most assuredly do not have our country’s best interests in mind. But six days a week and operating as the sole proprietor of my site is clearly not something that I can sustain – absent a liberal sugar daddy willing to pay me a large salary, with health benefits, to continue down this road. I might as well hold out hope that the Wizard will give Dick Cheney a fully-functioning, compassionate heart.

So, I’m going to take a week off, consult with some trusted, blogging and political friends and find out what I do from here. As you know, I report a lot on the U.S. Senate, so perhaps I will land at a much bigger site, doing that three or fours times a week. Maybe I’ll simply join a larger blog and enjoy the benefits of working on a team, making a difference, but not feeling the dreaded six-day-a-week deadline pressure. Or maybe I’ll change my site, to be a group blog and try to recruit others to join me.

I don’t know at the moment.

But sometimes life is about simply knowing what isn’t working. I know our current government isn’t working. And I also know that fighting it while driving myself into the ground is not something that helps me, my family or, ultimately, our cause.

I’ll be back on April 3 and hopefully with a new direction. I hope you’ll mark your calendar and come back as well.