“The Trudeau of Blogging”

Alana Range calls me a “quote machine.” She just left my Porchlight office after taping a web video segment for Capital News Online. This is how communications works these days. Alana found my old Accolade web site (last updated in 2003) and called me about web sites. The number she called is now the Porchlight line.

We got to talking about Blogs. Ironically, she was preparing a story about them — about how blogging is changing (or not changing) politics. Since I love both writing and politics (except when the latter bites me hard in the ass), I gave my opinion. In a nutshell, I think the web and blogging are to this decade like TV was to the 50’s and 60’s. Sooner or later, someone’s going to define it and those who can’t do it (like poor old Diefenbaker’s powerful voice but bad TV presence) will be left behind, remnants of an old era.

Current politicians don’t like blogs, because they are too real. Just ask Garth Turner, who was recently kicked out of the Conservative caucus for speaking his mind on-line.

Politics used to be about meeting people where they are, in their kitchens, at coffee shops, across fences. It was a conversation. One of the nice things about PEI (and why folks there still turn out to vote in higher numbers than anywhere else in Canada) is that politics is still like this. You can’t get elected in PEI if you don’t like (or at least tolerate) donuts. Blogging is a step toward restoring this important civic conversation, rebuilding an intimacy to politics that the current system cannot handle and that the current leaders cannot tolerate.

I’m willing to bet that Stephen Harper likes donuts. He clearly doesn’t like blogging. And person-to-person communication also doesn’t seem to be his bag. If blogging begins to define politics, Mr. Harper will quickly go the way of the Chief. And he knows it.

We know person-to-person works. While Alana was here, Bill Dawson walked in. He’s 83. He and his wife heard about Porchlight in the media. Then they came to one of our volunteer orientation sessions. They decided to deliver bulbs because they want their 2 great-grandkids to have a healthy future. They loved it so much, and encountered so much enthusiasm at the door, that they sold their Audi A6 luxury car and bought a hybrid. And joined the Green Party. Person-to-person works, Mr. Prime Minister.

At the end of our interview, Alana pressed me to suggest how blogging can change politics. I thought of poor Diefenbaker. “Pierre Trudeau defined politics in the television age. We need a Pierre Trudeau of blogging.” And, obviously, a totally new crop of leaders.

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