Friday, June 16, 2006

Impending Changes Here

The American Liberalism Project is about to undergo some major changes. To make sure that we do not lose contact with our readership, though, we have migrated a good part of the website over to the blogger URL where we have been posting our essays for almost two years. Maybe you have already noticed this change. The blog URL is http://americanliberalism.blogspot.com/ (this appears in the "address box" of your browser as you are reading this, of course) and you should bookmark it now, just in case we run into trouble migrating the basic website to its new format and location. The Blogger location will be kept running until we are completely satisfied that the transition has been successful.

The new website (with the same name) will contain our essays and running dialogues as well as our static features like links to press, liberal and progressive organizations, blogs, newsletters, historical and contemporary documents, etc., the Leaders of Liberalism gallery, and some other features now on the old website. The big change will be the ability to generate good discussions. This capability will make our site more like the famous Daily Kos, My Left Wing, FireDogLake, and others where a distinct community of people from all around the nation (and world) feel free to make comments on essays, statements, "blogs," and "open thread" opportunities posted by ALP regulars. There will be a way to accept new essayists, and there will be a way to regulate "trolls" and "flamers." It should take about a week to get everything in order and ready for the transition, then we will cut from our Time-Warner ISP to the new system at SoapBlox. Blogger will continue until we are well out of the woods.

The one thing that will not change is this: we are dedicated to providing news, opinion, and discussions about American Liberalism, Progressivism, and critiques of American politics and politicians. We hope your and our emphasis stays on clear, rigorous critical thinking and that it provides the readership with a sense of belonging to a community of like- or similar-minded people. I was, btw, in a large group of such people in Las Vegas at Yearly Kos a little over a week ago. It felt wonderful!

The (first) Yearly Kos convention was a unexpected success. About twelve hundred bloggers (writers, commenters, and lurkers) showed up and were entertained by Markos Moulitsas himself (looks like 18, but actually 33, and very mature and humble), former Virginia Governor Mark Warner, Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean now Chairman of the DNC, Senator Barbara Boxer of California and Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Senate Minority Leader, as well as throngs of press, columnists, and photographers. Yours truly met Arianna Huffington and spoke with her for a while. Earlier I was on CSPAN during a Q&A session.

One of the things discussed at YK1 was that websites like Daily Kos and The American Liberalism Project provide multi-directional opportunities for free expression, something very important to this democracy. We provide a place of (hopefully) thoughtful discussion that makes it possible for people out in their homes and workplaces to feel like "they are not alone." Blogs are one of the best cures for the "divide and conquer" strategies of the opposition.

Another thing we provide is a forum for elucidating and prioritizing facts and interpretations of them. The forum exists at the website, but its importance goes beyond the website because anyone reading it can forward and point out interesting discussions and new facts to other people, including politicians running for office or officials sitting in their offices in Washington or state capitals. We will be able to have polls taken on virtually any subject and the results can be emailed to anyone in politics as "pressure" for fixing their stance on the issue.

A third function of websites like ours is to act as a "surrogate" for spreading information and political opinion outward from candidates and elected officials by going around the main-stream media, which has failed us so badly in the past few years. The American Liberalism Project is capable in this way of helping any and all true liberals or progressives carry their message to the rest of the nation. And, of course, while doing this, it is always ... always ... up for examination and criticism.

The American Liberalism Project will continue to be advertisement free. If you all can spend your valuable time with us, we can certainly afford to spend less than a fifty cents a day to keep the website going. We appreciate your loyalty and interest.

Liberalism is a deceptively complex subject. It has a long history that was foreshadowed in the writings of philosophers like Plato and others. It has its solid roots in the Enlightenment in Britain and Europe, and it has its own early American history with the framers of the Constitution. Modern "Liberalism" is not a dirty word, and invective-whores like Ann Coulter who throw endless insults our way are not worth our attention. What is worthy of our energies is the idea that human beings can organize their lives so that individual freedoms can be maximized. We meanwhile strive for progressive change that recognizes the goodness and humanity in the vast majority of us, in our ethics, and in our understanding that power corrupts. We liberals understand that we depend on a rule of law for the security of our liberties and freedoms.

We hope you will like the new format and new energy. If you do, tell a friend.

James Richard Brett

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