Exploding politics

A blogger plans to run against Cynthia McKinney. Whether he succeeds or not, I do believe that we will see successful candidates launch campaigns via citizens media. What that really means is that the barrier to entry to politics and government is lowered. The internet lowers all such barriers. So what has come to media can and should come to politics. Soon, perhaps, having a party will be as valuable as having a press. Could happen.

  • The internet may lower the barrier to entering a race by allowing a new candidate some visiblity on a shoestring. This will help with getting the initial signatures and small contributions.

    The unsolved issue is the need to reach the politically indifferent voters which, currently, only works well via TV. The cost of TV advertising is the part of campaign reform that is never discussed. Public funding, restrictions on fund raising and the like are only an issue because of the huge amounts of money need for paid TV ads. Part of the obligation of using the public airwaves (for free) should be some requirement that candidates can reach the voters without needing piles of cash.

    This could be dedicated blocks of time given to candidates, or the establishment of a C-SPAN type outlet for the sole use of candidates (and elected officials) or some other mechanism.

    Elections are like any other market, there is a limit on the supply of media exposure and a demand for this commodity. This drives up the price. Some parts of a democracy should be outside the commercial market, campaigns are one of them.

  • Paw


    While the Internet may physically enable individuals to make contact with potential voters at the grassroots level, this nation is still controlled by big machine politics. It is foolish to assume that the powers that be would allow any unaffiliated candidate for a statewide or national office to get very far at all without crushing that candidacy like a bug. It’s all about who’s in who’s pocket in America and no level of Internet exposure is going to change that.

    Case in point: Howard Dean. A true grassroots candidate, with ideas that, for once, did not come from a standard Dem playbook. A person whio spoke from the heart and who had real opinions. His own so-called party turned him into a fringe player and branded him an out-of-control lunatic, with the MSM happy to play along, so they wouldn’t (God forbid) have to actually analyse his candidacy on its merits.

    Until money is taken out of the equation, the same dickheads that always get elected to public office will continue to get elected to public office.

  • The possibilities for a candidacy run by some one in direct touch with the public, who makes him/herself available for open interchange, is truly promising. Newspaper advertizing is just that – advertizing. To sell an objective idea is very different from presenting ideas and entering into conversations with the voters. Maybe the parties would stomp out anyone that tried, but wouldn’t that have an effect of its own? I hope it goes well with this one, and leads to more of the same.

  • Jeff is dead right here. Money is currently one of the most overrated aspects of politics just like it is in sports (see the NY Knicks, Portland Trail Blazers, Mets, NY Rangers,….).

    The tv advertising thing is ridiculous. Some candidate could have a website with video to reach the non-Luddites and he could also make a dvd video to reach the old farts. Blank dvds are under $1. You make copies and stuff them in mail boxes.

    One, if not THE, major problem of our government is the corruptive role of money. And I do not mean Abramoff or the like. I know more about Jeff Jarvis than I do about my local representatives who have all sorts of funds.

    The internet hasn’t even begun to shape politics, but I believe it will turn all current paradigms upside down – and for the better.

  • The popular bloggers will have more expensive ads and the people with money will still be better able to buy name recognition. I think most of the people that rely on name recognition when voting aren’t watching policy wonk debates, they’re seeing the Duke Cunningham ads during the football game.

    As long as people think they’re doing their patriotic duty by voting even without looking at the issues or candidates then this will continue to be a problem.

    Now if a blogger can capture the imagination of those typically uninterested in politics in a way that the old media haven’t then things might change for the better.

  • Eric
  • Captious Nut & Kirk are right – this is absolutely a good thing.

    The reason is simple: it’s not that citizen participation is needed that much if things are being run well, and good people are in charge. But politics has really fallen from grace. It is the refuge of the lowest of the low. Slapping police officers in the Capitol building? And what about that incredibly bright Jersey Republican, with his incredible savvy for offending everyone at once by telling them they have no right to say anything in a forum?

    Point is, anyone is better than these guys. We have reached a low point in politics. So opening it up is better, especially as some thoughtful and educated people might feel more inclined to get involved.

  • jacob

    Something I have been thinking about for a while – lowering the barriers to voting.
    1. National voting open for a week.
    2. Vote anywhere there is a machine, valid internet connection, cell phone, library, city, state or federal building.
    3. Voter turn out at 80% plus.
    4. You don’t have to drive, walk or ride on a special day or a special time to cast a complicated vote. Vote from your home computer.

    We would need to hire some serious systems and security guys, make sure there is an audit trail etc etc. I assure you it can be done electronically and objections could be dealt with.

    I believe it would solve the money crisis in campaigns. Hey 100 million doesn’t go very far when everyone has a say. Screw special interests they become hugely diluted. I wouldn’t even know where to spend my money if everyone over 18 could easily cast their vote. From brother and sis to grandma and grandpa would sure put the party pols out of joint.

    The politicians of the day love low turnout, love two party system, love to frame debates as if we had a big choice. Voting is about control and power.

    Do not fall for this red herring that “they stole the election because of machine voting”. That well might have been true yesterday but the issue can be solved tomorrow and if we have the will we just might get our country back.

  • Jacob, people with ready access to computers already do vote, I will try to dig up the figures, but it’s much higher than the base population. It’s an issue of laziness and lack of interest, not a lack of access.

    Other issue to consider if you’d like to get the money out, is cut the election season to a 4 month or less model, there is no practical reason we can’t run primary and general election in that timeframe. The constant election model is why election engines and careers have been built. Cut the election cycle down and it will help reduce the money spent.