Monday, January 30, 2012

Digital Democracy’s Greatest Hits

The Next Big Thing?
The recent SOPA / PIPA protest was a milestone for the convergence of democracy and social networking. Let’s look at other important events along the path towards a breakthrough with American politics.

Our elections are pretty stagnant. All attention is on the current GOP primaries. It’s mostly the same old faces in a nominating contest that revolves around expensive television ads. Then it's a two-party contest in November – unless the phenomenon of digital democracy makes another splash!

To help give us a sense of where we're headed, here’s the timeline with the convergence of democracy and social networking:

Digital Democracy’s Greatest Hits:
2004 – Howard Dean’s campaign for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. It's a seminal sound as Dean bolts to the front of contenders early by utilizing Meet-Up technology.

2008 – Ron Paul is the conservative / libertarian version of the Dean campaign where supporters tune in via the Web.   
These campaigns are insurgent within the two major parties. It's Punk!
2008 – Obama For America (OFA). Barack Obama is an establishment candidate finding his groove by declining public financing. He uses a blend of social media and traditional private contributions while his GOP challenger goes old-school; taking only government funding to be badly outspent and lose.
2010 - TEA Party conservatives engage social media for mid-term election organizing. This is a minor hit.
2012 – January SOPA / PIPA blockbuster protest where corporations (profit and non-profit) help mobilize web users to kill anti-piracy legislation in Congress as fast as a hyper-click. 
These are the biggies so far. I believe it’s just a matter of time until something huge breaks that brings in the new wave of democracy.

Guess who’s not on the roster of up and coming bands? Yes, the crusty Democratic and Republican parties!* They're still tuned into the golden oldies of state funded primaries and ritualistic caucuses.

New groups are trying to harness the tremendous organizing power of technology with efforts like No Labels, Ruckus, Votizen and Americans Elect. These are not Twitter or Facebook accounts augmenting slick and incessant television ads, but groups trying to break into the top ten of internet political hits.

I think Americans Elect is the most promising up and comer because they’re actually going to nominate a candidate for the ballot. They are doing the crucial groundwork of filing for the public ballot in 50 states. The group wants to engage people with an online nominating convention. This could result in a personality emerging that many voters identify with.

Google, Wikipedia and other tech leaders helped ignite a mobilization with the SOPA / PIPA issue. A presidential campaign can also capture the imagination and rally people.

Americans Elect are currently leaders with presidential primary reform and that itself gets them close to joining the list of hits above. The effort is rooted in the digital age notion of social networking so don't be surprised if many start humming along to this new tune as this election year unfolds.

* (I don't count OFA because it’s a brand mostly independent of the Democratic party.)

More reading on this:  By Any Other Name - It's  Party! Krist Novoselic, FairVote Blog 29.6.2011

1 comment:

  1. And right on cue an editorial by Henry Rosemont Jr., a Brown visiting scholar, appears in the ProJo (no link, behind firewall). I also read your June article but only Mr. Rosement discusses that whoever wins the online vote will choose a running mate from the opposing D or R mainstream party.

    He goes on to state this election is different. No matter how disgusted liberals or conservatives are with this administration they will vote their party. So by creating a D/R ticket, how many bipartisans will vote "spoiler" and speak for the "silent majority". Good, quick read.

    I cannot see two vastly different groups of "independents" coming together, there are just too many fundamental disagreements about the role of the Federal Government. Party affiliation is at an all-time low (about 25% each party, 50% independents) and the President has no obligation to carry the party anymore. Does anyone think that obama or bush helped build either party? No, both created more I's to save their own skin.

    AE is doing a great service by financing and creating a third party option in all 50 states. But I do not think there is anyone to lead the ticket. Whoever fills that role should have an established name and background. Who is that? Ron Paul, Donald Trump or even Krist Novoselic. And if that someone is new politician, what about the vetting process? I think the timeline to produce a solid on-line candidate is just too short for this election.

    My prediction is that Ron Paul fans, there are many of them on-line, will finally have a way to get him on the November ballot.