Of Lots Of Parties And Cliques

by Conor Friedersdorf

Wouldn't it be interesting if various writers subverted the Team Red versus Team Blue aspect of the blogosphere by founding lots of competing teams? Like the yellow-bandanna-wearing Team Intellectually Honest Consequences Be Damned, or the green scarf-clad Team Averse To Hyperbolic Denunciations. Who wouldn't have a bake sale for Team Just Trying To Think Through This Very Complicated Issue, or even Team Everyone Can See Ethanol Subsidies Are A Bad Idea? (Well,  Iowa wouldn't have a bake sale for that team).

I realize that at present all these teams exist informally. But we still behave as if it's totally coherent to say things like, "You never agree with the other side even when they have a point," or "You're just a useful idiot, always attacking your own side." I've always been attracted to the notion, "Of No Party Or Clique," and tried to write as if there are these sides, none of which I fully embrace. There's a lot of truth to that!

But it happens that I do have some loyalties.

For example, Will Wilkinson, who blogs at The Economist, belongs to Team Writes With Clarity And Regularly Turns Delightful Phrases. I feel season-ticket-holder loyalty to that team. And Freddie de Boer is on Team Very Earnest And Forthright In His Convictions. He and I disagree about most things, but I still want lots of spectators at his games. There are teams he's a part of that I'd play on. Is he "on the other side"? Only if you're thinking in a reductive way that doesn't square with reality. Freddie isn't a right-leaning libertarian by any stretch, but I'd rather he live on my Seastead than Bill O'Reilly!

Plus it'd be fun if, for once, the rest of us got to go on the offensive with these team-based cudgels. It's always ineffective to say, "How can you be a liberal," or "How can you be a conservative."And I'd never say those things anyway.  But "How can you be on Team Misleading People Into Thinking That Marked Up Commemorative Gold Coins Are A Good Investment?" That could work, if everyone were concious of that being a team. Or "Why Don't You Join Team Intellectually Curious?" It could use more members, and put that way, who could refuse?

There isn't just more to life than politics. There's more to civic life than politics. There's more to politics than elections, and more to politics than short term wins and losses on particular issues of import.

American government is organized around a de-facto two party system.

But the political blogosphere doesn't need to be.