Weekend Coffee Share: In Which I Reboot and Get All Political

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you I hope you’ve been well since the last time we chatted. Unless you are one of those folks who chatter with me on Facebook that means it’s been almost a month.

weekendcoffeeshare

And I’d tell you I’ve been doing some thinking — soul searching really — about what it’s going to take to get my blogging life back on track. My output isn’t where I’d like it to be. I doubt I’ll ever get it back to where it was in 2014 and ’15, but I’d like to be publishing a post per week somewhere. I don’t see why I can’t find a way to swing that.

My problem lately has been figuring out what to blog about. Coffee posts are definitely still on my agenda, but they can be about literally anything as long as they’re structured correctly. I feel as though my pop culture blogging has pretty much run its course for now. That was always about collaboration with other bloggers — my pop culture posts were consistently less popular than other contributors’ for the entire life of my collaborative blogging project, and in any case, I don’t have the time to write high-quality reviews nor to consume the amount of entertainment required to be a pop culture blogger.

The only other thing I’m absolutely committed to keeping up at this point is my feminism project, and I’m really wanting to do some other politically-oriented blogging as well. During 2014, when Diana and I were more or less throwing as many different types of posts against the wall and seeing what stuck, I wrote quite a few political posts at our blogs. Those posts didn’t do poorly, but as our contributor base grew and I moved into pop culture, I stopped with the political chatter. Here’s why I made that decision.

Getty stock image.

Getty stock image.

  • The audience I saw developing, such as it was, was an audience of creative types and pop culture geeks with highly diverse views. I felt as though my political writing — which is always strongly opinionated — had the potential to create unnecessary divisions among contributors and alienate readers who were just looking for cool photos and smart t.v. reviews.
  • The socio-political commentary market is thoroughly saturated, and political blogging is a competitive game. Since I didn’t have a foundation of readers who were interested in reading what I have to say about politics, I thought I’d probably just ending up screaming into space.
  • My original audience included many, many conservative southerners. Since I was trying to start up a pop culture blog and a writing blog and I was only generating 20 to 50 views per day, I didn’t think it was wise to continually antagonize 30 to 50 percent of my audience.
  • In short, I didn’t see enough benefit to warrant the effort, because I don’t blog for solely for emotional gratification. I blog because I want to be read.

My social media life has changed drastically since I started. The southern conservatives I depended on during the first few months of my blogging startup have mostly moved on, or have at least learned that when I start spouting off as an opinionated liberal in my own media space, discretion is the better part of valor. Many of the bloggers I met during the past two years who have an affinity for my political opinions are now Facebook friends. Sourcerer’s silent, but a lot of the people who contributed to that blog and kept the threads busy are still in contact and are contributing for one another now.

So the community-building part of the Sourcerer project was a success, even though I’m not able to get that blog running again right now. All of which leaves me in the position most bloggers find themselves in at some point in their careers. My output has dwindled and if I’m gonna ever get going again, I’ve got to start as a solo blogger and get to the point where I’m producing enough content to keep my own blog busy and give posts away from time to time.

This is me.

This is me.

And the only way I’ve ever been able to be consistent as a solo blogger is to write about things I care about and that I find not-terribly-taxing to write. Until I set up Sourcerer in 2013, all the blogging I’d ever done had been political blogging. I learned almost everything I know about how information spreads on the internet from studying the development of the early blogosphere in the first decade of this century. And I’m also good at turning personal experiences into entertaining stories.

So, for the next little while — until I find something that works bettter — what you’re getting from me on the blog is a combination of personal experiences and political opinions. Even during the months when I was mostly keeping politics off my social media, I never disengaged completely and I never stopped keeping up. One of the reasons I don’t have time to consume the quantity of entertainment media required to do pop culture blogging is that I consume a TON of information about domestic politics, international affairs, and social trends. So the only way I can realistically get back to blogging frequently is to leverage that information and hope to find readers who appreciate it.

So, just to get this reboot rolling, here are a couple of things I have on my radar at the moment.

The U.S. Presidential election, especially Donald Trump’s candidacy.

My Facebook feed is awash with Trump chatter. The smart money says it’s demographically impossible for him to win the general election, but his candidacy has unsettled me practically from the moment he announced. Just the other night I had a long and somewhat heated exchange with a person who claimed that Trump is a victim of a big media smear campaign, and who was also characterizing one of the Dem candidates as a “shameless felon,” despite the fact that the candidate in question has never been convicted — nor even indicted — for a felony.fblike

Now, of course election season in the U.S. always causes some people to say bizarro things. But I don’t see it that way. I think if anyone’s trying to smear Trump, it’s the GOP establishment, and they’re doing a terrible job of it. What I see the professional media doing is uncritically pumping Trump into the homes of potential voters 24/7 to sell ads and generate internet traffic. And I will never stand by and let another person jump into the middle of a conversation I’m having and call a public figure a felon just because they dislike that person. I’d call that out even if I saw someone whose politics I agree with characterizing a hard-right Republican that way.

I know anecdotes don’t count for much, but I find this trend in the U.S. political discourse disconcerting. And while I HOPE the people who say demographics preclude a Trump Presidency are correct, this poll worries me. Tl; dr:

What I found is a trend that has been widely overlooked. A voter’s gender, education, age, ideology, party identification, income, and race simply had no statistical bearing on whether someone supported Trump. Neither, despite predictions to the contrary, did evangelicalism.

Authoritarianism and a hybrid variable that links authoritarianism with a personal fear of terrorism were the only two variables that predicted, with statistical significance, support for Trump.

Now, to be clear. I don’t think the U.S. is about to slide into outright dictatorship on the fascist model. But if you think of “authoritarianism” as a set of attitudes which includes things like conformity, resistance to changes in traditional social norms, and fear of outsiders, maybe you can see the problem. There’s a deep and persistent strain of that type of authoritarian thought which runs through American political history all the way back to colonial times.

The sample size for the poll is small, but the fact that age and race weren’t statistically significant predictors of support for Trump worries the hell out of me. So does the general tone and attitude of the crowds from the Trump rallies that I’ve seen footage of.

Mississippi has Declared April Confederate Heritage Month

This one’s closer to home, and I may have more to say about it later. But I don’t like this. And I especially don’t like the potential for it to turn into a month-long aggrandizement of the Confederate government and military with no serious acknowledgement that the Civil War was fought to preserve chattel slavery as a legal institution.

The State of Mississippi made this clear in its Declaration of Secession:

Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery – the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product, which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin.

mlk_justiceI think any discussion of the Civil War as an exercise in remembrance needs to start by acknowledging that it was about slavery in the first instance. “States’ rights” is an abstract concept and it is a justification, or a best an explanation of the underlying philosophical differences between the factions of elites who drove the country to war. It is not a causus belli in and of itself.

That’s all I’m saying about it for now. I’m still deciding how to handle this one, and what I’ve said today may very well be my last word on it. Then again, I may use the A to Z Challenge to talk about my heritage in a real, honest way every day during April.

I’m over 1600 words, so I’ll thank you for reading and wish you a fine week. I hope to see you again next weekend, if not before.

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17 thoughts on “Weekend Coffee Share: In Which I Reboot and Get All Political

  1. From this post alone I 100% support you wading into the political blogosphere space. I mostly do writing, reviews, and essays myself, but my feminism and humanism are a major part of why I love the things I’m writing and talking about so while I may not draft a blatant political post, it is definitely not lurking far below the surface.

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    • Yeah. Balancing the need to put the feminism and humanism out there, but also the need to stay interesting and keep the writing fun is a real challenge. But I’m thinking I drifted too far toward being publicly politically neutral. And since my pop culture blogging has been going nowhere since October, I don’t see a downside to wading back into the politics. Thanks for your comment 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Why not write about politics? I am always worried to get a bit political myself and that when I studied politics during five years…
    I know you want to be read but I guess your readers will be real happy if you write about the things that you care about. I read your whole coffee post after all 😉
    It’s great to see you around again (saying this when I have myself close to vanished from the blog sphere lately).
    Enjoy your weekend, Solveig

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! My hesitation to get political in the beginning was entirely pragmatic — Diana and I were trying to build an audience, and we didn’t have the experience managing threads that we have now. When we first jumped into feminism, one or both of us lost entire weekends to trolling-folk on more than occasion.

      But now that I have two and half years of experience moderating threads and such, and a large group of friends I can trust to be reasonable even when I inadvertantly press their buttons, I don’t see a downside.

      At least if I write about politics, what I say will be honest and principled.

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  3. This the first time I have read your blog. Three three things I don’t talk about are politics, religion and animal abuse. These subjects cause tempers to flare. Over my lifetime very few if anyone managed to change some ones ideas. They are set in the home before a child reaches school..

    Liked by 1 person

    • That may be true — I certainly was predisposed to a liberal worldview early, but my views have evolved over the years, and talking about politics and religion with a lot of different people are one of the things that allowed them to evolve.

      I’m not trying to change anyone’s views at this point. More like sending a signal to other people who are in the same boat as I am: surrounded by people who are so uncomfortable with my opinions that their first impulse is to shout me down; always outvoted; but somehow still able to believe that we can do better than we’ve done for the last 30 years and that just because we disagree about politics doesn’t mean we have to completely and utterly destroy one another every time we have an election.

      Thank you for reading this one. I’ve been away for a while, and I had a little bit of trepidation about posting this. But really, I just had to go here and see what happened.

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  4. “write about things I care about ” there you have it. It’s the only way to go.
    The casual conversations you have with people (in real life) can be a great indicator as to where your interests lie. Although it may not be blatantly obvious to us to blog about these things, things we are anyway reading about and watching TV shows about. It took me two years to figure that out…. sigh.

    I’m not much into politics, especially since if you ever watched what is going on in this part of the globe you’d see my point in how ridiculous and corrupt it all is. I am however into human rights and feminism. I feel strongly about those things and as far as politics effects those aspects – I pay attention. Many things have an effect on other things. The economy would have an effect on poverty for example (which has a huge effect on human rights, or in my mind it does) and the economy is also a part of politics so in that case…. you get the picture.

    Anyhow, I got to get back to writing my A to Z. I’ve already signed up – because it is one blogging challenge I don’t want to miss. There is just something about the alphabet. Talking about your heritage sounds like a very interesting A to Z Challenge topic – if you are going that way. 😉

    The casual conversations I tend to have with colleagues and friends (outside of social media

    Liked by 1 person

    • Not being into politics just doesn’t work for me very well. I’ve tried to give it up many times and I just can’t. I’m mostly into the politics of inequality, but that pretty much touches everything.

      I agree with you about the economy, by the way. Best of luck with A to Z. I’m still on the fence about it this year.

      Like

  5. Woo hoo! I’m so excited to see this happening! We NEED your voice on these things Gene’O. You have a way of breaking the information down and giving us a deeper understanding. Your knowledge and understanding, both politically, historically and sociologically are unique and something I don’t see in other political writings. And writing about the things you’re passionate about? That right there is the key to loving blogging more and getting readers. Yeah, you may alienate some. But those are the ones who aren’t interested in dialogues. Go for it and don’t hold back! (Can you tell I’m excited? ‘Cause this has made my day!)

    And you have my blog featured in the sidebar! That’s so cool! Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your excitement is contagious. I featured you because I like to feature a blog that’s not mine or Diana’s up there. I’ve featured my friend Taylor for months and months, but I thought since I’m going political, your blog is the best fit for now. It’s not worth many referrals, but hopefully with my change in content focus and your penchant for writing grabby headlines about social issues, it might be worth a little something.

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  6. Absolutely write about what you care about. I think it makes it a more meaningful post and you’ll get more out of it–which is a huge part of it. Plus, look at this post, it’s a sincere, heartfelt insightful post…about politics. I may not get the political part, but I get all the rest. Great work, Gene’O!

    Liked by 1 person

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