Sunday, September 6, 2009

Does Blogging Make Successful Politicians?

First, let's get the semantics out of the way. This is not about statesmanship, moral integrity or character. It is simply about political success--getting elected, then getting re-elected. Nothing more.

That said...

Much has been made (largely in the self-indulgent blogosphere) about a certain Dunwoody city councilman and his blogging activity. There have been some suggestions that his political success is caused by his successful blogging and that other bloggers might follow in his keystrokes.

As with all cases where correlation is taken as causality, there are links between the two, often strong links. Before blogging was cool, let alone the thing, this particular blogger had been active in his neighborhood, personally engaging the county on a variety of topics. At the early stages of his political career, the blog was a convenient way to keep friends and neighbors informed and publish important government documents--much like a newsletter. Often the postings carried a bit of watchdog tone, advertising events and actions that some in government might prefer kept quiet. So, much like the pamphlet publishers during the formation of our country, the activist-blogger is more a part of the Fourth Estate than the establishment. Any transition between these two requires a significant paradigm shift and in this case it was the formation of the City of Dunwoody. And that shift is over.

After election to the city council this activist-blogger's career took on the characteristics one expects of an elected official and the content of the blog turned a bit more inward towards the city and became noticeably more congratulatory with criticism reserved for the dark forces of DeKalb County and the occasional billboard vendor. This represents a difficult transition from an outside agent of change to a establishment insider that few among us can make. This particular blogger skillfully navigated this dangerous political and blogging passage.

The point is the blog did not make the politician--the politician made the blog. To suggest otherwise is akin to suggesting that someone with Tourette Syndrome would make a great public speaker simply because you can't shut them up.