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Blogs – Our Little First Amendment Machines

blogging bug image See that image over there on the left – the vintage World War II woman with the headline, Liberty Waits on Your Fingertips? Currently, it links to a page with a list of my posts about the Thought Crime Bill (which for now, sits dormant in a Senate committee). Other times, I link it to this page about bloggers' rights at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

At the bottom of the image is a quote from Jay Rosen - “Blogs are little First Amendment machines.” I first heard it when Jay, a professor of journalism at New York University who blogs at PressThink, spoke during a general session at the first Blogher conference in 2005. Six little words to remind us that blogging can do more for democracy, for making the voice of the people heard, than anything since the invention of the printing press.

With a blog, you can share your unique perspective on any topic you want; it gives you the power of the professional media. Oh yeah, you say, but not nearly as many readers. Probably so, but you never know the reach of your words.

Affinity groups – elderbloggers are an affinity group of old people – share some of the same readers. But we each have other readers too who have other readers and so on, around the globe.

Yesterday, Marian Dent of And the Beat Goes On sent me this video. You could call it, and it is, a good, cleverly-done primer on blogging for those who don’t know what it is. But there is an additional theme regarding each blogger’s potential to inspire and motivate others. Take a look. [2:58 minutes]

There are three months until what is, arguably, the most important presidential election of our lives that will affect not only the future direction of the United States, but much of the world. There is hardly a public issue in existence that does not need addressing from the Constitution, war, torture, healthcare, education, the economy, class warfare, corporate involvement in government, treatment of veterans, warrantless surveillance, energy, inflation, Social Security and more.

So much, in fact, that it is difficult for an individual voter to be well informed on all of them and know where individual candidates - for Congress as well as president - stand on them. So much that Senator Obama, I've read, has more than three hundred advisers.

So here is what I propose: that each blogger reading this today – whatever else you write about on your blog - take on one issue or a small aspect of one issue, follow it in the mainstream press, on alternative media and political sites online, on other blogs as it is debated and once a week, write about what you’ve learned on that issue. Make yourself an expert on it, do some research, give us the facts, tell us what the candidates are saying, how it's being spun by their surrogates - and your opinions too, if you are so inclined.

Readers in other countries: it would be fascinating to read your perspective on issues in the U.S. election which will undoubtedly have consequences in your countries that will differ depending on who is elected.

And here is what I will do at Time Goes By: I will use Sundays, when I usually give readers a break with no post, to link to each of your election issue posts. Just be sure to email me the link to your post by Friday at noon because it’s not humanly possible for me to review every blog often enough to keep up.

Let’s use our blogs as the little First Amendment machines they are, so we will each be as informed as we possibly can be when we enter those polling booths in November.

[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Lois Cochran will leave your smiling after reading A Road Trip with My Grandson.]


Because my blog is so new I don't get many readers, but I will give it the old College try because I love to rant. I, too, will try to post my research on Sunday.

Rain recently had a great back and forth on Obama and it was really interesting.

I hope that by giving factual information on an issue we will educate others.

Fantastic idea...

What a great service you've performed here, Ronni! If only a few of the people who read this will take your suggestion and crank up their little first amendment machines in the service of broadening our understanding of the issues, we will be much better off.

I look forward to digging into all those blogs to expand our awareness of current events. I'll have to think about what my own contribution might be.

Great idea. Before the 2006 election, I did that for the month of October and up to the election taking a different issue each time and trying to get people to think. That year, I felt it was imperative to get Democrats elected and it was given how the Republicans had been in lockstep with everything Bush wanted. Now I think it's time to urge new people to run for Congress and getting a president is only one step to getting real change. The Congress we have will not change anything that benefits them. If we don't see new Democrats in there, the ones who are there (with only a few exceptions) have shown what they do about standing up for what is right where it comes to impeachment for real crimes. I am to a point if they have been there more than 10 years, it's too long. The system corrupts as it is and the whole bunch there have been tainted by it.

God love you, Ronni!!!! You get the best ideas. I'll try to get something to you. It's a busy week here in my neck of the woods so I can't promise a lot. And I'll look forward to seeing what others decide to address.

I'm ahead of the trend. I posted my political comment yesterday that also should suit Elderbloggers. It is titled If the Shoe Fits.

I think I'll work on another today, so please stay tuned:-)


It's too late this year to get anyone new to run for Congress - the campaigns are long in progress already. But it is urgent that we understand the issues, their history, the scholarship on them, the consequences of differing actions, who supports what, etc.

Personally, I don't believe anyone new in Congress will change anything. It's the need for every congressperson to raise tens of thousands of dollars every week of the year that has corrupted Congress. Until that changes - hey, someone, election funding is a good issue to take on - it's the same old, same old no matter who is elected to the Senate or House.

Granny Annie and everyone else, PLEASE email your links and not leave them in comments. That will help cut down my housekeeping chores to post on Sundays.

Problem is, I'm afraid if I start looking at the issues important to me I won't be happy with either candidate. Anyway do what candidates "say" on issues have something to do with what they are actually going to do? I wish I were not such a pessimist.

woo-hoo! another excellent notion. does require more focus than some of us in issue-overload are used to, so becomes a "lesson" i know will be very useful.

Great idea, Ronni

Will do my best, Ronnie, to track the perspective from British newspapers and t.v.

This is a mammoth task you're taking on and I applaud you for doing so.

Our country is so huge and diverse and so invested in policing the whole world with our tax money that no one president can turn it around.

It will take a whole restructuring of our educational system and world economy so that corporations that have dominated politics and the economic landscape for so long are put back into their original role of doing only what individuals can't do--build bridges and water systems.

People need to get back into management once more rather than being reactive to the needs of the corporate giants who cream off the profits like the gambling lords take money out of the back of the machine.

Our house of cards is toppling like the twin towers toppled. When every caring, thinking citizen becomes involved in government once more, we will begin to build back a society that cares about providing for the needs of all the people in the world.

When we once more put people and the needs of people first,we will nurture and educate before we squander our resources on killing, mindless entertainment and self serving technological gadgets.

Now we only have to agree on how to get it done, right?

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