During every recent election cycle there has been kvetching about how dirty politics has become. This, by the way, is a non-partisan dig. Both of our major political parties have been willing participants in mud related activities.
Sadly, negative advertising works in politics. It might work elsewhere, but we consider ourselves too sophisticated a society to put up with “Toyota sucks” commercials, paid for by GM.
As bad as it’s been, there’s been some restraint, mainly because those in charge have been ‘organizational’ people. You don’t get anywhere in any organization by being snippy and anti-social 100% of the time. People who fit in rise in organizations.
Now, the voice of politics might be the voice of bloggers¹ – people who can stay home, by themselves, with none of the interpersonal requirements an office brings. Bring on the vitriol.
Here in Connecticut, Ned Lamont’s campaign for US Senate would be nowhere without the support of political bloggers. Howard Dean’s ill fated run for president was mounted on the backs of the blogging community. Dan Rather might still be anchoring the CBS Evening News, but for bloggers.
Adam Cohen, on this morning’s New York Times editorial page, talked about how computers and the Internet are making it possible for 15 year olds to swing elections. He was referring to this video, which has been viewed 30,000 times already (there are at least two versions on youtube.com). When was the last time you expressed your views to 30,000 strangers (and growing)?
Ava Lowery’s video was originally shown at the “YearlyKos,” the ‘political convention’ of liberal bloggers held last week in Las Vegas.
The cutting-edge discussions at YearlyKos were about the intersection of technology and politics. Bloggers sketched out their plans for shaping news in upcoming elections. The liberal political-action group Democracy for America gave a primer on turning online activism into offline activism, by developing networks of supporters and sending out “action alerts” to get them to contribute money and volunteer for campaigns and causes. The Participatory Culture Foundation, a nonprofit group, led a workshop on how ordinary people can make political videos and distribute them over the Internet.
We enter an era where partisans, with little restraint and powerful tools, will control the noise – if not the conversation. The technology seems to be an equal opportunity enabler (though Cohen felt the progressive wing of the Democratic Party would benefit most).
It would be a shame to think, as 2006 and then 2008’s political ads get going, what we’ve just been through were the good old days.
¹ – Geoff, are you talking about yourself? To a certain extent, as this blog is primarily done while I’m by myself, with no outside consultation. There is no safety on my trigger, other than me.
Often I censor myself. That’s probably because of 35+ years of broadcasting live. Which bloggers have that experience?