I had already been commenting at moderated newsgroups on the usenet, since 1984. I began commenting at political blogs, or emailing blog creators in 2003. By the time political blogging began in Alaska, around 2004, with Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis, the original KUDO radio blog, and others, the global political blog world included about twice as many of those critters as there are people in Alaska. By 2007, technorati was tracking over 112 million blogs worldwide. There may now be almost 160 million blogs - one for every man, woman and child in the USA around the early 1950s.
Alaska's progressive blogging community grew rapidly between 2005 - the time of rising despair over the gubernatorial policies of Frank Murkowski - and August 29th, 2008, the day then-Gov. Sarah Palin was announced as Sen. John McCain's running mate. I joined fairly recently, in September, 2007, to cover the trial of long-time aquaintance, adversary and friend, State Rep. Vic Kohring.
From August 29th 2008, through the end of the McCain-Palin campaign, not only did the traffic at Alaska's progressive blogs grow explosively, an entirely new genre developed: blogs devoted to various aspects of Palin's political and administrative shortcomings, to speculation about aspects of her personal life, or to the ramifications of how Palin combined her personal life & beliefs with politics, mostly through her Dominionist religious beliefs and actions.
Between when Palin's national aspirations began, and her resignation as Alaska Governor, all the Alaska progressive blogs were united in our universal disregard for her qualifications for higher office. Although some of us - including Progressive Alaska - had been fairly charitable toward Gov. Palin before the McCain campaign, her marked personality and policy changes during and after the 2008 national election ended that goodwill.
Since the resignation, our unity has been far less obvious. Premiere anti-Palin blogger, Andrew Halcro, who never claimed to be progressive, has once again stopped blogging, this time to run against Rep. Don Young in the 2010 GOP AK-AL primary.
Some of the Alaska progressive bloggers still write about the ex-governor. A lot. Progressive Alaska doesn't. This column contains far more references to Palin than any other written here since July. When I announced the end of the Saradise Lost series, several blogspot "followers" immediately cancelled. The traffic here has since settled down to about half of what it was at the time of Palin's resignation.
The progressive Alaskan bloggers who were so united on Palin's formidable shortcomings during the battles against her job conduct do have a lot in common, though. We've always been committed to a range of issues upon which we generally agree:
That fifth element above will be difficult for Alaska's progressive bloggers to unite around over the course of the coming legislative session and 2010 political campaigns. As one example, all four of the Democratic Party gubernatorial candidates will advance each of the first four points to one degree or another, yet some of us already are supporting one or another of them.
1) Alaska politics is encumbered with a tradition of corruption that needs to be confronted.
2) Civil rights issues, from Alaska Native rights to LBGTQ rights need our voices, to be fully covered.
3) Transparency in local, state and Federal government practices needs major improvement and constant, sometimes strident coverage and direct action.
4) Environmental and resource use/development challenges need our voices. We advocate sustainability far more clearly than do most traditional outlets in Alaska.
5) Support for legislators, candidates and platforms that seem to advance the above points.
6) Rural issues and their importance are too often subordinated to urban demands of major media outlets, and we - the growing community of Alaska progressive bloggers - support the development and coordination of rural voices who are independent of the dominant "voice" paradigms in the bush.
As another example, the upcoming legislative session already has pre-filed bills (Bob Lynn's, for instance) that seek to extend the power of our executive branch in dealing with ethical challenges. Progressive Alaska believes our Democratic Party legislators need to be far more assertive in promoting legislation that, instead, attenuates the growing secrecy powers of all branches, especially the executive.
The battle between development and environmental forces has long split Democratic Party activists in Alaska from their colleagues on the left from the Green Party of Alaska, for instance. That split has far been less pronounced in our evolving blogging community.
The next stage in our evolution as a positive tool for change in Alaska will probably center around the upcoming legislative session, though. That session, the battle for sustainable policies regarding the resources needed by our rural, largely Alaska Native communities, and continuing urban battles over civil rights issues such as LBGT equality, will be the ground upon which we may or may not prove ourselves to be the worthy successors of our rapidly declining traditional Alaska media.