Upsetting the Status Quo
Posted by Mary
Politics will never be the same again. In the 90s, there was much discussion about how the internet will change the world by making it easy to create new businesses and finding new customers. Many people questioned that assertion when the high-tech bubble economy collapsed. However, the transformative nature of the internet is finally becoming visible. The internet isn't just about making money, it's about connecting people and providing an interactive forum to build communities. And on this front, we are seeing the promise become reality.
Dean's ability to raise over 7.5 million dollars in 3 months is a remarkable story, and one that would not have happened without the web world. As the American Prospect says, Dean's ability to harness the tools of the web have proven to be a wake up call to the rest of the political establishment. One thing that the Dean campaign has done is to use the web to find new ideas as reported by JB Armstrong today on dailyKos.
Many of the progressive successes in the past year have come from using the web to rally people and to get them engaged. MoveOn.org showed that they could get millions of people marching against the war. The virtual march on Washington also showed the power of this media.
MoveOn.org was also a key organization addressing the FCC rule change. By publicizing the issue and providing easy to use tools to register comments, they rallied thousands to weigh in on this change. Moveon and the lefty blog world made this issue one that anyone could understand, and a committee that had been used to doing business in the dark suddenly found itself in the glare of the spotlight. The Senators on the Commerce Committee certainly took notice.
Blogs are an essential part of this internet world and certainly responsible for creating the interactive and adaptive community in which we are partaking. David Winer believes that the weblogging world will shake up both politicians and the traditional journalists.
With an army of webloggers presenting reports and transcripts of the candidates' every public move, he sees as inevitable a new atmosphere of plain talking. "The 2000 election in the US was a tie, and the candidates never told us about themselves," says Winer.
"They lied, they struggled to make themselves stand for absolutely nothing, and the voters were powerless to do anything about it. In 2004, they won't be powerless. The question is, will they use the power?"
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It is not just the politicians who should be afraid. Weblogging, says Winer, is coming after journalism, too. "In 2004, the opportunity is to have the citizens cover the candidates and root around the journalists who do an absolutely terrible job.
Our army of quote finders, holding the politicians and the journalists to a higher standard of accuracy is certainly an example of this phenomena. The blog world connects us, educates us and creates an environment were real democracy can thrive. Unlike most other media, the internet is interactive. Instead of creating coach potatoes or dittoheads, it has the possibility of creating activists and citizens. The challenge is to take what we have found and learned in the virtual world and share it with those who are not online.
The 80s and 90s were the years where the right wing took over talk radio and used the medium to push our country towards the right. The beginning of the 21 century shows that the internet, a medium that is organic, democratic and capable of educating and rallying people has the potential of overthrowing the authoritarian, calcified political elite despite all their money and all their attempts to control the message.