Saturday, June 27, 2009

Mosquitoes, Blood and the Political Blogosphere

We have no AC. A series of power outages in the last few days blew out our aging compressor, which in turn is going to blow out a fairly sizable chunk out of our savings. Sigh. Sometimes the dream of American homeownership seems like one of those stress dreams when you're standing in front of your congregation and discover you're wearing bunny ears and a zebra-striped thong.

At least, I hope that was only a dream. It was awfully vivid.

As I stood outside with the HVAC tech, the smell of burnt-out electrics strong in my nostrils, the air around us filled up almost instantly with mosquitoes. They swept in like a hungry little cloud, fulfilling their prerogative for self-propagation. They're pretty much instant on, as the trails of carbon dioxide left behind by our respiration and the heat trace of our mammalian nature flags us as a potential blood feast. They are relentless little automatons, with but one purpose in their single-minded existence.

For some reason, this resonated metaphorically with something that I'd noticed today in my blogging. My recent gentle-blog-fun-poking at Rep. Gerry Connolly had apparently stirred two different responses. First, it got his staff to take a second look at my problem. After that initial hiccup, they've been doing great. I couldn't have expected more from a Representative, no matter what their party affiliation.

Second, it drew the immediate attention of a number of local conservative bloggers, who pretty much all used it as an excuse to mock Rep. Connolly. It doesn't particularly matter that 1) it's an understandable error and 2) his staff has responded to my calling them out on a simple mistake by going well beyond what I'd have expected of them.

"..tell me again how we got stuck with this guy," says one. Well, he spent over a decade in local politics and developed a reputation for being, depending on your perspective, either an something of a machine politician or someone gets things done. Then, more people voted for him than the other guy. "What an idiot," says another, as if anyone who has a solid grasp of constituent services believes Congressmen field their e-mail directly. Another blog appears to be entirely dedicated to finding negative things to say about this particular representative.

I know, I know, it's just politics. It's always been this way. We'd like to think it hasn't, but we'd be deluding ourselves. Back during the earliest moments of the American republic, partisans on either side of the Federalist/Democrat divide would pitch out some pretty impressively scurrilous dirt at either John Adams or Thomas Jefferson, depending on their predilection.

This is also the current reality of the political blogosphere, on both left and right. Many conservatives and liberals view their only role within the polis as drawing the other guy's blood. They spend their days carefully sniffing google for a trace of anything negative about that other guy, come swooping in the moment they taste it in the air, and then shout that negativity out in their own echochamber to generate those precious siteviews.

Ah well. Politics is and has always been a blood sport. It's a pity reality, patience, and the common good matter so little in the face of such a single-minded pursuit.