I thought about a few things the other day - why I write the stuff that I do here, and whether or not what I say really has any merit in a media saturated world - and I discovered that this blog is fueled mainly by my own brand of righteous indignation.
For example, yesterday's monologue, Obama Grounds Citigroup Jet Purchase, was the second thing I wrote. The first piece I'd come up with just didn't do anything for me when I started trying to edit it. It didn't feel right. So I waited awhile, and sure enough, the Citigroup plane story came along, a story that was practically begging for me to rant about why a brand new 50 million dollar jet for a bank who was getting bailout funds was so wrong.
It was a story that hit me right in my gut.
But while I was reading the work of a fellow blogger, who was indulging in her own bit of indignation yesterday about Juan Williams recent comments about Michelle Obama, it hit me that there is a higher calling that awaits those of us in the blogosphere who write commentary about current events and politics.
At some point, my blog has to be more than a reactionary catharsis that salves my own sense of right and wrong. It has to expand the prevailing political narrative – to take the framework of the discussions on TV and radio and in print and literally push the boundaries out from around them.
William Kristol’s last column for the New York Times was published yesterday. With a mind that has produced of some of the narrowest thinking in America, Kristol's work occupied the right hand column on the op-ed page of one of the most widely read papers in the country for years. George Will, Maureen Dowd, Peggy Noonan, Thomas Friedman, Charles Krauthammer, Ellen Goodman, Richard Cohen, David Broder, all of them "columnists for life" at their respective organizations, all could join Kristol by the end of the week, and we'd be better off for it, even if they were replaced by less capable people.
These opinionistas don't mirror the society they live in, not even the elite parts they long to join, or already live amongst, but profess not to belong to - they reflect, for the most part, their own rigid tastes, their own limitations of imagination, and their own intellectual boundaries.
Bloggers like me, who carefully craft long, thematically driven posts, often have delusions of grandeur, and may even have a desire from time to time to take the place of these "columnists for life", to put our own imprint on the world's psyche. But the more I've thought about it, the more I realize how free this end of the world really is, where I don't have an editor to answer to, or an editorial policy to uphold - where I can literally write whatever comes to mind, the way I am doing right now.
I feel sorry for the Juan Williams, the Shelby Steeles, the John McWhorters, the Debra Dickersons - they have put themselves in a box that demands, in days such as these, where black people have finally begun to feel so good about themselves that we are beginning to quit worrying so much about the petty, trivial things upon which we often expend a disproportionate amount of energy, that they continue to tell the same old stories they told last week, and last month, and last year, and ten years ago - much like the conservative icon William Kristol did, hewing steadfastly to ideologies that were as outdated as Elvis.
The words that came to my mind the other day were "blogger manifesto", but out here in the blogosphere, we don't need any more quasi-official policies or programs or groups to tell us how to think. The only thing we need to do is push the boundaries of discourse outward, in whatever individual direction we deem, justified only by our own ideas of decency, by our own homegrown common sense, and by some sort of logical progression that allows others to make sense of what we’re trying to say.
So my watchword here is “righteous indignation”, at least until I get tired of this, or the wind blows me in another direction. Which means that when I get that feeling in my gut, I won't stop to wonder if that feeling is on the left side of my stomach, or the right side, or in the middle – I will simply grab my keyboard and start typing until it goes away.