I have been a long time follower of Steve Clemons’ political blog at TheWashingtonnote.com. I have often found his take on many important national & world issues to be progressive, moderate, and often pragmatic … all of which seem to be increasingly rare these days in a hyper-partisan climate which seems to dominate our collective psyche.
I consider myself to be politically moderate in most instances; however, I generally lean toward the liberal end of the spectrum on social issues, but am financially conservative. I suppose could even go so far as to say I have been a moderate Libertarian on many fronts prior to the so-called Tea Party movement, yet I recognize the need for sufficiency of governmental infrastructure. In other words, I am not a proponent of fundamental Libertarianism … as I believe the logical end game is anarchy and lack of a “core safety-net foundation” (i.e. fire, police, hospitals) if practiced in the extreme/purist form.
In any case, I believe I started following Steve Clemons’ blog after the recess appointment of John Bolton as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations … since Mr. Clemons seemed to really be a force to reckon with in so far as uncovering some of more blatant as well as the more nuanced consequences of Bolton’s appointment and how it affected the United States’ credibility in the court of world opinion. I owe a great deal of credit to Steve for truly captivating my attention to that particular issue as well as many others which he explored over the course of blogging at TheWashingtonnote.com — which has since been a “regular stop” for me in so far as news/op-ed sources I frequent to keep abreast of political news/events.
While I’m sure there are plenty issues I might disagree with Steve, one of the “biggies” is with respect to “Net Neutrality”. I don’t want to put words into his mouth, but I believe he was at one point officially on the fence regarding this issue; however, I believe he may have given some consideration to the support of some form of an abolishment of the current status quo of net neutrality in favor of a “pay to serve faster (content)” paradigm in effort to ramp up our national IT/internet infrastructure via privatization (to paraphrase).
I believe net neutrality is a critical leveling mechanism with respect to how “the news” affects political discourse in so far as opening up the number of potential “channels” which the world’s population is able to viably select to garner meaningful and often times diverse perspectives on a wide range of issues. Net neutrality represents the polar opposite of the consolidation of news sources which tend to homogenize perspective and discourse. Moreover, it is a lot easier for political players to “steer the masses” with fewer news sources. This is one of the more significant pitfalls I am concerned about … especially since a neutral internet allows for independent writers to gain immediate equality with what has traditionally been a high barrier of entry, a good ole boys club if you will, to mass dispersal of information without the contamination of the particular agendas of special interests which seems to currently enjoy an institutional bias on this front. The potential of the independent writer must not be curtailed if we are to advance and evolve to allow each of our voices to be potentially heard by the world’s ear.
OK, back to the point of this post: I had not seen a post by Steve on thewashingtonnote.com in over two weeks (July 14, 2011) … so I opted to visit his relatively new home at theatlantic.com and found there to be about 18 posts which had never appeared on thewashingtonnote.com. There are truly a gazillion possibilities why this is the case … many of which might be very good reasons. I realize it’s obviously not up to me to dictate where Steve publishes his writings, and maybe there are many significant “upsides” to joining forces with a larger entity; however, the one downside I can’t help but consider to be a trump card is the apparent shift away from what appeared to be a more independent platform. This is certainly not to say theatlantic.com is not a great venue in it’s own right.
Again, I’m not privy to the details behind the scenes and whether this is a temporary phase, transitional, or more permanent move? Personally, I hope Steve keeps his bet hedged and realizes the enormous impact he’s had on the political blogging sphere as well as the example thewashingtonnote.com has provided in so far as illustrating what IS POSSIBLE for any person to potentially emulate to some degree. Granted Steve has been involved in politics for a while & presumably has many “inside connections” – which might give him a leg up over an “average American” – but he has still provided a working example of how one person’s voice can be heard on the national/world stage and have an impact.