Thanks to the efforts of Waldo Jaquith and Chad Dotson (aka John Behan), the esteemed Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at University of Virginia will be offering the first Summit on Blogging and Democracy in the Commonwealth on August 27.
The mission of the summit is twofold:
1)To promote commonwealth over partisanship among political bloggers in Virginia.
2)To explore efforts to regulate political blogging.
After pasting the first objective above, I had to chuckle when I clicked on over to John Behan's site to create the link to his site and saw that his topmost post read:
Leftist morons like Paul Begala and Howard Dean are trying awfully hard to make sure that the Democratic Party becomes a permanent minority party.
Commonwealth over partisanship, indeed. ;-)
Seriously, this summit holds great promise, and its success depends on far more than the fine organizers who have put it together - it depends on all of us in the Virginia political blogosphere, from bloggers to commenters to lurkers - participating actively. From the press release:
"Part of the Sorensen Institute's mission is to promote civility in politics. Bloggers play an important role in educating the voters," explained Sorensen Institute Executive Director Sean O'Brien. "We hope that by bringing bloggers of all political stripes together that we can promote a civil discourse of the important issues facing the Commonwealth."
"It is becoming increasingly evident that bloggers will be playing a significant role in the political process over the next few years," said Chad Dotson, Commonwealth's Attorney for Wise County and the City of Norton. In addition to his duties as a prosecutor, Dotson writes for Commonwealth Conservative, a blog about Virginia politics. "For some time, it has been my desire to see Virginia bloggers step to the forefront in promoting an atmosphere where bloggers can help move Virginia forward on issues important to us all, rather than engaging in partisan bickering. I'm very pleased that the Sorensen Institute is taking on this project, and I look forward to attending."
"Blogs have become a promising medium for involving more ordinary Virginians in the political process," says Maura Keaney, a blogger and board member of Democracy for Virginia PAC. "We've only seen the tip of the iceberg in terms of how blogs can be used to inform, include, and empower voters in Virginia."
"This conference comes at an ideal time in the growth of the Virginia political 'blogosphere,'" continued Keaney, "It will allow bloggers on all parts of the ideological spectrum to come together and discuss blogging as a medium before we head into the fall elections in Virginia."
A day packed with serious agenda items will be followed by an evening of bipartisan socializing. And we all know that's where the real drama will be, right? Will fans of "leftist morons" like Howard Dean be able to get along with bloggers who call Dean a leftist moron? Will anonymous bloggers wear paper bags over their heads like the Unknown Comic? If the stereotype of the blogger is someone who blogs all night in his underwear eating Cheetos in his mom's dark basement, will the entire social event collapse from a collective lack of social skills? Will blog commenters wait for bloggers to start the conversations before speaking up?
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