Steve Klingaman

Steve Klingaman
Minneapolis, Minnesota,
January 01
Steve Klingaman is a nonprofit development consultant and nonfiction writer specializing in personal finance and public policy. His music reviews can be found at

OCTOBER 24, 2012 5:00PM

Four Years on Open Salon—Already?

Rate: 9 Flag


5 Stages of a Blogger’s Life,, September 28, 2008, Alex Hughes 

From the eve of one national election to the eve of another, what a long, strange—and fun—trip it’s been.  From a national moment of feverish anticipation to a moment of—what?—smear and loathing, you have to ask, why would anyone follow politics?  If you want your heart broken follow baseball.  Politics was never my thing.  It was policy that moved me.  Health care reform.  The root causes of the economic meltdown.  These were the touchstones of my interest.

            And now, four years, 199 posts, 225,000 words, a half a million reads later, I think the main thing accomplished is that my nerd cred is likely indelible.  Clearly, I am a wonk.  I went just five weeks without a post during those four years, counting the extra leap year week.  One was last week, when I was in France.  One was when my dad died.  This was, after all, a commitment to write, and to have at least one original thought a week.  I was, and remain, passionate about health care reform and economic reform.  From my first post, “The Hard Truth About Government Spending,” which received not a single comment, to the last one, “Who is Mitt Romney? RomneyCare Reveals All,” you can’t claim I pandered for readers.


            I never bitched about Open Salon, because I am deeply grateful for the platform.  I chose it because an old friend was one of the founders of Salon and I had no idea what the Huffington Post was.  And I remain loyal to a site that features the likes of Joan Walsh and so many other wonderful professionals.  Breaking in here at Open was no easy deal either.  The site was in the throes of its first wave of expansion following its beta-rollout, which, sadly, I missed.  There were so many fine writers here with hardcore followings (scores and scores of comments) that I never really figured to become part of any inner circle of cool kids—and doubt that I am one today.  I miss that energy, and many of the writers of 2008 and 2009, but in every era here there have been amazing writers, people who I have come to care about a great deal.

            I blogged because I could.  I blogged because I had left an executive job for consulting and writing and I could finally come out of the closet politically.  That felt so good.  I felt like I had to ante in to the dialogue in the face of Sarah Palin, the CATO Institute, John McCain, and the whole misguided cabal of the right, and of libertarian economics. 


            I could never in a million years have predicted how the right would double-down on the bankrupt formula of deregulation, regulatory capture, and unmitigated greed that drove our economy into the ditch in 2007.  Nor could I foresee the insane opposition to modest health care reform in the face of 47 million insured in the U.S.  And while I did not foresee the Obama backlash (read my January 2009 piece, “The New Basics: Toward a Coherent View of Reconstruction” for proof of that), I did get it once it occurred.  It was the 1930s all over again—except Obama wasn’t Roosevelt.

            He is who he is, I suppose, to spin a cliché I don’t much care for.  And we are on the cusp of a whole new gestalt—or not (predictions are dangerous)—no matter who wins.  What I mean to say is that nothing can be predicted, ever. I would guess Obama will win.  I would guess Ohio will be why.  But if he doesn’t, I won’t fall off my chair.  If Mitt Romney wins, the world will not end.  If Mitt Romney wins, and the Republicans hold the House and take the Senate, I will be very surprised but not astounded.


After four years of wanting to talk more about policy but paying more than a little attention to politics, very little astounds me.  Will we become a hard right nation?  It could happen.  If so, that would be the truest measure of “American exceptionalism” in some time, because we would be standing very clearly outside of the norm of industrialized nations.  We are exceptional, that much is true.  Our exceptionalism is expressed in our failed health care outcomes, our infant mortality rate, our lost retirement savings, and our military budget.

            Still, I’m a booster; I believe we have it in us to get it right…someday, someway, as Marshall Crenshaw might say.  Does that make me an exceptionalist?  If so, fine.

I’m restless these days.  I don’t hear many people clamoring to read about things that really matter; things like health care, the loss of America’s middle class job base, or the nearly imminent catastrophe we face from global warming.  It’s all heat and no light out there in the smogosphere and media gulch.

Has my blogging changed over the years?  I hope it has less heat than light.  My pieces are shorter.  That would please some of my early readers who commented, in effect, “Are you kidding?”  Still, I’m gratified that some of my “long form” pieces—a good number of them actually—are in my “Top 10” most read list.  I have been amazed to see the legs some pieces have had, and continue to have, even if they were long.  I learned that more divisive the issue, the more reads you get.  Three of my pieces in my personal Top 10 are about gun rights.  And I wrote about gun rights very rarely.  Meanwhile, I wrote countless pieces about health care reform and none of them made my Top 10 as it stands today.


            Is it immodest to mount one’s own retrospective in the blogosphere?  Perhaps, but it’s a do-it-yourself world here.  Am I going to stick with it?  I don’t know…like I said, I’m restless.  It may be a passing phase, a four-year itch, but it is work—sometimes with original reporting—in the face of competing interests like making a living. The flowering of the blogging culture between 2007 and 2011 created a mind-boggling glut of content—content that was sometimes great and sometimes horrendous—that may someday define a significant part of who we were at a given moment when subjected to some digitally-based literary-anthropological analysis.    I am honored to have been an infinitesimal part of it.

            But most of all, four years in, I just want to thank everyone who took the time to read me.  Even the ones who hated it.  They had to read it to hate it.  Blogging is addicting; you know that.  And at some point you kick the habit I presume. Or not.  But, four years in, I did what I set out to do.  I wrote about issues I cared about to a readership that cared, too.  I like that.  And OS was there for me to do it.  I like that, too.  Thanks, OS.  Thanks, readers.  Thanks, friends.  What a long, strange—and fun—trip it’s been.


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I enjoyed this. Life goes on, and I hope you will too. It's getting hard to find anything original here amongst all the posts by gurus.
The above comment got cut. I had written: ... comments by SNIP gurus. Quite a difference.
Congratulations! I believe we arrived here around the same time.
My original persona came here about that time also. I didn't keep track. I don't keep track of when I came here the second time either. I suppose that I just have to check my first blog's date for that though.

It is a crying shame how many good - no! Great! - bloggers have been unable to withstand the horrible technical difficulties we've experienced (and are presently experiencing AGAIN!). I cannot imagine what the trouble could be and management stubbornly refuses to give us any insight into what's going on.

As much as I love seeing anew name come up on a comment, it is still wonderful to see those old-timers who are still here. This bunch really do grow on one and become family. For many of us who live alone, OS is the centre of our lives. Nobody can afford to make the pub scene every evening as was my habit 10 or 12 years ago. Even if one spends a bundle on a top-notch computer, it's still way more economical that sipping a few brews with "the boys" (who nowadays are often girls).

So here's to your 4th anniversary! CHEERS! May you have many more!

Dat Kwazy Kat

(*No... not THAT one - the other one*)
I love the way you write, and I'm going to keep reading. Glad you're here.
well, some were interesting...
What a great blogiversay post Steve. I'm short of three and I quickly discovered that your posts always elevated the place. I'm glad you've given health care the attention it deserves. Having the world's most expensive system while posting mediocre results ought to have prompted a lot of folks to have reconsidered its premises. But inattention to the experience of other countries has long been a hallmark of American exceptionalism.

I haven't looked at the comments yet but in case no one else has said it, FOUR MORE YEARS!
" Politics was never my thing. It was policy that moved me."

YES! I totally get that. Happy 4 years blogging here! I loved looking at those stages and taking a moment to reflect about them. I must've started not long after you. I always enjoy and think more deeply after reading your contributions, this is no exception....just make sure you don't drift off into Stage 5! Your perspective is much needed around here ~
Congrats. You've been a real asset around here.
I call it World of Wordcrcraft.
Sky, Yes, I willfully ignored the horrendous technical difficulties, which, I am afraid, is depressing the click rate around here big time. Of course I know what you mean and can only hope for relief.

Deborah, Kanuk, Alsoknownas, Tom & gang, Thank you!

Al, is that a thinly veiled compliment I detect?

Abrawang, four more years, yes, that is exactly what is so intimidating. I feel like Hillary. I did one term. There are these bookends. It's not fair to be casting about for ideas if the passion is gone. Repeating oneself is a big danger.

Heidi, Stage year 5?...that's just it! Best all.
Congratulations on your anniversary. You speak for a lot of us and you know I am one of your biggest fans.
I bet you spent 2 of the 4 years waiting for OS to load.
Congrats Steve. This week marks my third year of posting on OS. It's been a great ride. I've always found a lot of interesting insights in your posts. I look forward to more in the future.
Lets hope they repair the damage that is being done by the epidemic of Spam that constantly causes the server to crash or there won't be another year at OS. Clearly they could do much better but chose not to so I hope people including you leave forwarding addresses because no blogosphere can survive indefinitely when they don't fix such a simple problem.