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June 16, 2007

"The Blathersphere:" The Early-Warning System For Political Disaster Our Elected Overlords Keep Ignoring

Instapundit discusses the fact that the Bush Administration Republican Party has been warned repeatedly about which bad policies were actually going to cost it support -- and entire elections -- but has studiously ignored this data.

Do they want whining from Michael Chertoff and Trent Lott to form the public image of the Bush Administration and the Republican Party?

Apparently they do. Good luck with that, guys. The political press can run with stories about bloggers being in full revolt over immigration, but it's not really a case of bloggers vs. the Administration. Rather, it's a case -- like Harriet Miers, Dubai Ports, PorkBusters, etc. -- of the Bush Administration ignoring the clear warnings available in the blogosphere. And once again, it's not just bloggers who think the Administration is crazy. So far, every time they've done that they've had their head handed to them. That'll happen this time, too, and if they should happen to "win" and pass their bill, the consequences for the GOP will be even worse. "Bizarre Republican Death Wish?" Indeed.

As I've said before, it's not that bloggers should be read and heeded because we're all so damn smart. No, not at all. Some of us are certifiable morons.

It's that blogs actually do, somewhat accurately, reflect public opinion. And better than polls, too, at least in this respect: While a poll might tell you that sixty-nine percent of the public is against this amnesty-without-security bill and only 20% in favor, that piece of information is, by itself, not terribly meaningful politically. Why? Because the public is against a lot of things, but doesn't really care about them. On many issues -- like bankruptcy reform -- you can probably afford to defy public preferences and give a sop to banks and creditors, because while the public may not support such "reform," neither is it politically animated about it. You can ignore public opinion because public opinion simply isn't very strong. No one's losing votes over the bankruptcy bill.

But sometimes citizens are so incensed about an issue they are actually animated to change their voting (and donating, volunteering, etc.) behavior based on a politician's position on that issue. It's not just numbers, it's intensity; and while some polls do indeed query about intensity, blogs and comments left by voting citizens are important gauge of such intensity.

Anecdotal evidence, merely? They say that the plural of "anecdote" is not "data." But when the number of anecdotes becomes sufficiently high, the plural of anecdote is indeed high. There are hundreds of thousands of blog readers on the right, by far the dominant position on amensty-without-security is opposition, and, further -- you can tell just by skimming comments -- almost all of the passion and intensity and likelihood of changing voter behavior based on the issue is there too.

There are supporters of the Grand Bargain on the right -- but they're not terribly passionate about it. They favor it, but then, they're not really reaching for pitchforks and torches if it fails.

There's little doubt that those opposed to amensty-without-security are, in fact, preparing to storm the castle.

Want more data? Listen to the ankle-biting dog who never yapped. The left of the blogosphere is radio silent on this issue. Even those one would expect to support it do not, apparently, support it quite enough to bother writing a single paragraph about it. Maybe they support, maybe they don't, who knows? Most likely they're just ultrapartisans who only care about the issue to the extent it tears up the Republican Party, but, whatever their reasons, they're not actually animated over the issue to even bother taking a public position on it.

(And, in fact, many on the left are actually against the bill too -- and those folks actually do write long, scathing critiques of the bill. So, once again, all the actual intensity is against the bill.)

This information is out there. It's public. We bloggers and blog commenters and talk show hosts and talk show callers aren't exactly trying to keep it secret.

Quite the opposite: We are desperately attempting to get the attention of the Republican Party (and, also, the establishment Democrats willing to sell out sovereignty and blue-collar workers for some votes from "newcomers"). We are collectively pleading with you: Do not do this, or we will be forced to vote against you or sit out the next election, and yes, indeed, we are quite serious about this. This is the Rubicon, the last straw, the ultimate insult, the final nerve.

But they're not listening. Useless humps like Trent Lott are so used to legislating in secret and without public scrutiny that they've come to believe that doing so is their actual right, and that democratic pressure from the public is some sort of usurpation of the Divine Right of Legislators.

I will say it again: Do. Not. Do. This. If You Value. Your Political Lives. Don't consider it a threat; consider it an intervention.

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posted by Ace at 06:23 PM

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