Constantly bombarded with articles and columns regarding the internet in politics, many still seem to lack an idea of what it really portends. And it isn’t just money.
True, participatory democracy is enabled by the internet in a way never before possible – but that doesn’t just mean bloggers posting stuff good and bad about candidates.
McCain has made it clear he isn’t planning to go after Obama based on negative campaigning.
Here’s the new media answer: So what?
McCain won’t be shaping his own message anymore. Sure, he can shape the little bit that he says in interviews, speeches and press conferences. But that will be a tiny portion of the information put out there between now and November.
Obama remarks on what a, “typical white person” thinks (about as racist a statement as any candidate ever has uttered in modern times) and McCain doesn’t want to call him a racist?
No problem. There will be lots of bloggers doing it anyway.
Obama says the Pastor-of-Disaster Wright is a kindly “old uncle” whom he cannot disavow, which is akin to, say, a Trent Lott saying a David Duke is a good family friend, has been since who-flung-the-chunk, and McCain doesn’t want to point out the idiocy of Obama’s relatuonship with a truly anti-American anti-white bigot?
Obama as zero legislation to his credit, had the names of experienced African-American legislators taken off legislation in Illinios to make it look like Obama had a vote other than “present,” and McCain doesn’t want to go there?
The point is that the messages of the candidates no longer are the candidates’ to shape. Those now are controlled by the internet and people who care enough that their party wins that they will do whatever they think right to ensure that victory.
The Founders warned us about being too close to true democracy, and put lots of barriers in the way of our becoming so for many good reasons.
The internet is pushing past those barriers faster than society can react. The only barriers now are of taste.
(Of course Baby Boomers, never being taught manners, and having ensured politics has become a yelling and screaming match ever since they came of age, often will fail the taste barrier. And McCain-Feingold will do nothing to stop them.)
The issue henceforth will be: “Can the candidates shape their messages at all?”
Or will candidates become figureheads for the hopes and hates of bloggers, turning America into a near-parliamentary State in which partisan bloggers ensure their party wins – regardless of its candidate?