What does it mean to be non-partisan?

Breebop has taken some interesting comments questioning her decision to join the Blogging Alliance of Non-Partisan Canadians. Mel of Chandrasutra in particular questioned what it meant to be non-partisan.

Sorry Bree but I don’t buy the non partisan blogger thing. From you, maybe - as your politcs have always appeared pretty sketchy and I’ve always suspected you were either a socially progressive conservative or a liberal who swings both ways. But Jay Currie - non partisan? Are you kidding me? Have you read his blog? Jay’s got more in common with the republicans than most conservatives!

I don’t believe anyone who tells me they’re non partisan. If anything, it makes me distrust them.

I replied to her comment, but I thought that my response was worth repeating here; if only to save myself a little time and enjoy the wonderful weather of this holiday weekend:


As founder of the Blogging Alliance of Non Partisan Canadians, I thought I’d better put my two cents in.

I’m beginning to realize that the term “non partisan” has almost as many definitions as there are people who call themselves “non partisan”. Basically, my definition, why I consider myself to be non partisan, is because no one party suits my needs. And although I do intend to vote in the next election (I haven’t missed an election yet), I do not wish to tie myself down to a particular party or movement. The last party that I belonged to was Mel Hurtig’s National Party, until it self-destructed. I’ve considered joining the Greens, but my experience with the Nationals has me unsure if I want to get my feet wet again.

But more than that, if I were to join the Greens, I would still consider myself to be mostly non partisan, albeit likely not in most people’s defintions. I believe it because I believe, and I will continue to believe, that every political party that has elected a member of parliament in this nation has put forward at least one good idea or policy. The perfect government is one that sheds its interest in power and which picks and chooses policies from the entire political spectrum. So, when I’m considering members for the Blogging Alliance of Non-Partisan Canadians, I’m looking for individuals who have enough of an open mind not to stick to a particular political party.

I also set up the BANPC at a time when there were fewer blogging associations out there in the Canadian blogosphere — when it was primarily the Red Ensign Bloggers and the Blogging Tories and that’s it. I noticed how much of an advantage being a member of either of these groups conferred to one’s rankings in the Blogging Ecosystem. Others had too, and as I considered this, the Blogging New Democrats were born.

Now, it may be pure ego to care about one’s ranking, but some new blogger who joined the Blogging Tories or the Blogging New Democrats was still conferred a considerable advantage over a non-aligned blogger that had been blogging for months. A high ranking confers traffic. This is all well and good for such blogging communities as the Tories or the NDP, but what about those who haven’t chosen a party, or who aren’t particularly political? Why should one have to belong to a partisan blogroll in order to increase one’s standing in the blogosphere? Don’t unaffiliated bloggers deserve an organization that can help generate traffic and improve their ranking?

So, I set up the BANPC specifically in reaction to the Blogging Tories and the Blogging NDP, and I called the organization non-partisan because its members were to exclude those who were members of either ring — not for any hostile reason; simply on the understanding that those blogs who were members of those organizations didn’t need the assistance.

Since then, we’ve had an organization of Progressive Bloggers starting up to complement the similarly non-partisan (but conservative) Red Ensign Bloggers, and I realize I’ve somewhat painted myself into a corner. But I have to live with my decision. Members of the PB and the REB can be considered non partisan and will be members of the BANPC if they want to join.

What I’ve been quite pleased with, now that nearly twenty bloggers have joined the BANPC, is the diversity of thought among the members. We range from the conservative-libertarian of Jay Currie to the democratic socialism of Voices in the Wilderness (unfortunately now on prolonged hiatus). I could use more bloggers who aren’t particularly political, however, who blog more about arts and culture than happenings in Ottawa.

For that reason, Mel, I would like to extend an invitation to Chandrasutra to join the Non Partisan Alliance. Your blog strikes me as non-partisan. You may be politically active and opinionated, but you talk about much more than just politics. And adding you to the organization would be a breath of fresh air for a blogroll that is a little Ottawa-heavy at the moment.

Are you interested?

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