Monday, December 1, 2008

Bloggers in Buenos Aires: Fair and balanced?

Politics is tough. Bloggers in Buenos Aires are tougher. I've come to this realization after a couple weeks of nastiness leading up to a no-confidence vote of the chairman of the group which was in the end canceled, rather unceremoniously, by the resignation of the entire Executive Committee of Democrats Abroad Argentina (DAA).

For me, DAA was a godsend this year. It got people energized, it got people involved in the election and it got people to vote. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank EVERYONE who made DAA a reality when it counted most. Yanqui Mike, through sheer force of personality and perseverance, and yes I also extend my thanks to what seems to be characterized by bloggers here as the gang of four: Meghan Doran, Richard Tihany, Laura Atkins and Maria Emilia Ramirez for their generous and tireless efforts as well. Yanqui Mike is a tour de force, but no he would not have been able to do it all alone.

In the name of full disclosure, I was a founding member of DAA, showed up early and often to DAA events and volunteered my time to support DAA, but not nearly on the same scale as those on the Executive Committee or even some of my fellow volunteers. I shared a few beers with Yanqui Mike, but also have shared a few with Meghan Doran and Emilia Maria Ramirez as well. I have also met and had pleasant conversations with Laura and Richard who are fine and reasonable people.

I consider Yanqui Mike a friend. He and Alicia have never been anything but warm and welcoming to me. I also consider Meghan and Emilia friends. So to say that I am disappointed with what has happened between all these good people is an understatement.

I'm also disappointed there was not closure to this issue because now the only record of what did or did not happen are emails and blog posts. I'm relatively new to blogging and my naivety is shining through right now by expecting a little bit less Fox News style "fair and balanced" opinion by fellow democrat/bloggers. Where Obama inspires me by trying to raise himself above politics as usual, it seems some bloggers here are all too happy to trade character assassinations in defense of one of their own. This is understandable, but certainly as a DAA volunteer, I don't find it inspiring.

I hope the bloggers who sprang so quickly to Yanqui Mike's defense, also jump into those vacancies on the Executive Committee. DAA is going to need new volunteers in order for the organization to survive next year. If you do not, my guess is that these blog posts will serve as the final nails in DAA's coffin. All the posts (including my own) should be fair warning of what some newbie will be stepping into if they volunteer with DAA next year. It ain't pretty.
Good luck DAA. I'm out.


TangoSpam said...

Jonathan, I completely agree. But what happened in my opinion is that Mike never presented his side. I received many many many emails from the Executive Board libeling Mike. We were never presented with anything else. To me this was very unprofessional conduct on their part.

What did they expect? For the friends and supporters of Mike to just sit back and say "Oh, this is OK? Just keep sending this stuff?" Of course not. In light, that the elections of a whole new full board were to be in 2 months, in my opinion the more mature thing would have been to have let go of all the anger and to have just waited.

That way a whole new board could have been elected with or without Mike. This whole exercise that happened was an exercise in futility and proved nothing. In the end it created a ton of bad will.

Unfortunately Democrats Abroad will maybe not be remembered for the incredible job they did in organizing all the Democrats here in Argentina, but instead for this mindless debacle.

It is a real shame. But as a poster to my blog commented "politics as usual."

Jonathan said...

Hi Deby,

Thanks for your comment. I appreciate it.

I fully agree that in the end all it created was a ton of bad will. It is "Politics as usual". And it's sad.

Yanqui Mike and the members of the Executive committee put their hearts and souls into making DAA the success that it was. I doubt they will be able to repeat it now.

I wasn't aware of the elections in 2 months. Maybe they should have waited..maybe not. Who knows now since neither side was able to present their full case.

I think sticking up for one's friends is admirable. But I think the way you stick up for them is equally important. If the spam emails were unprofessional, the blog posts in Yanqui Mike's defense certainly did their best to match the low standard. Just amazing to see since we all are supposedly on the same team, sharing similar values.

I can barely wrap my head around a DAA without Yanqui Mike. However I don't think it will much matter now.

What really rubbed me the wrong way is how these posts decided to characterize the Exec committee as young/immature, certain members building their resume, or taking their first big trip abroad, tickets paid for by mommy and daddy and etc.

At events that I attended as well as when I voted at the embassy, I felt like the old fart at the grand old age of 38. DAA needs young members as much as they need the long timers. However, it was made abundantly clear that if you are young, building a resume, supported by mommy and daddy or taking your first big trip abroad and are entirely unwelcome.

So I hope the long timers step up to the plate if Yanqui Mike or whoever takes over the organization next year. If I were a young person, I'd take my adventurous spirit elsewhere.