Friday, December 12, 2008 or Ministry of Truth?

Winston Smith has entered the building.  Just as many had feared, in the response to the first real scandal in the history of the Office of the President-elect, the agents of Obama's Ministry of Truth have been activated.  Of  course, there is little precedent for comparison.  Our government never even had an Office of the President-elect before now.

In the wake of the Blagojevich arrest and subsequent political chaos, the web has been cleansed of some damaging material efficiently and effectively.  It shows us the fleeting nature of truth in a digital world.  It also presents the best case for bailing out our nation's failing newspapers.  Despite liberal tendencies, the relative permanence of paper information serves as an archive that can not be subjectively white-washed when expediency dictates necessity.

Most of us bloggers consider ourselves to be the town criers of the Digital Age.  Maybe - if we're really good - we can evoke reactions from our readers similar to those of Nellie Bly or Upton Sinclair, dragging nare-do-wells into the light of day for the public to exact justice.  Or, maybe, if we haven't achieved the critical mass of a mega-blog like or, what we write only lives until it crosses the line from opinion that someone doesn't like to become substance that could be damaging to someone. 

Servers can be compromised, systems hacked and archives deleted.  In this sense, most blogs are no more reliable for our society than the ancient oral tradition.  (No, former President Clinton, not your cue.) 

A culture of moral determinism is now poised to hold court now that the capital of our nation's political spirit has moved from Washington, D.C. to Chicago, Illinois.  Finding a way to give our political conversations permanence is not a pursuit that can be left to hobbyists; it is an imperative of survival.

The handing over of power to a Chicago cabal was an enormous mistake made by the American people who know not what they have done.  But it is a mistake that must be respected because it is, after all, our system.  So, too, must the cabal respect the laws they will soon be bound to uphold. 

Perhaps it is not voluntary as idealized by philosopher John Locke, but in the absence of the social contract he describes, in which we submit to the rule of law - not to be altered based on our temporary needs or wants - only anarchy exists.  The erosion of any sense that a record exists of someone's actions, or that common sense should guide our judgments about the actions taken by our elected representatives, intensifies the chaos currently in crescendo.

The blog community is the Fifth Estate, checking the Fourth Estate, which watches over the government for the protection of the people.  When the media steps out of line, it is the blogs that sound the alarm; the media, on occasion, return the favor.  In the coming years, bloggers will need to find more creative ways of preserving their communal record, arriving at some forms of consensus and establishing measures to gain credibility with the public.

Our country can survive anything, as long as the free flow of opinion and information exists.  This latest dark episode in our political history shows us that blogs serve a valuable role and they should ensure their ability to do so eternally, for the preservation of our free republic.


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