The Second Mizuwari Death Match. I like the hat.
Archive for May 27th, 2007
Ed Cone is unhappy with pace of change when it comes to political campaigning and the Internet.
I was sitting in a packed auditorium in downtown Manhattan last weekend, listening to a panel of senior staffers from just about every front-running presidential campaign talk about how important the Internet has become to modern politics, and I was bored out of my skull.
Can we get this revolution started already?
The event was called the Personal Democracy Forum, but that session didn’t feel especially personal or democratic or forum-like. It felt like the same old same old: a few people sitting on a stage, telling a passive audience whatever they wanted to tell us (which wasn’t really very much) about the use of technology in their campaigns, each of which seemed much like the campaigns we’ve seen for decades.
Politicans are afraid of change. They’re not cowards, exactly, but current generation of politicians and political operatives cut their teeth on television and the sound bite culture. That’ll work for them on YouTube, but they don’t really have the vision necessary to see how a major campaign–one using the Internet as its primary communication tool rather than one secondary to television–could succeed.
I spent an evening a year or so ago trying to convince a minor Republican operative–Hey Curt–to mount a primary challenge to Walter Jones using the Internet as his main presence–and to ostentatiously refuse to participate in the sound-bite, cover your ass culture of televised politics as a way to increase public curiosity about him–in essence to use all other media available to him to drive traffic to an interactive, post and essay-driven website where, if a voter asked a question, they could expect an answer from the candidate in 24 hours. In practice, that meant getting one’s refusal to appear on television broadcast by the local news, but difficult does not necessarily mean impossible.
He’d not had enough beer when I made my pitch, so the rest is not history. Ah, well.
The best thing about such a strategy is that it would reduce the inevitable “macaca” moments produced by modern campaigns. It would also be cheap. One could hire a stableful of web monkeys for the cost of one television ad.
On the downside, it would remove much of the public’s physical access to the candidate, increasing the danger that campaigns would be driven by the ideas of Svengali-like operatives rather than those of the candidate.
Not so much different from now, in other words.
I’m the idea guy, you’re just the pretty meat. Now be quiet while I write your next blog post.
But from there, at least, it’s at least conceivable that one day the idea guy might wake up and think “Why do I need the meat, exactly?”
You’ll know that the balance of power has finally shifted in favor of the Net when, not only does the Internet elect a candidate, it elects one as ugly as Abraham Lincoln, who, more than any other candidate, benefited from the innovative American media culture of the 1850′s.
“He learned for the first time that by giving to one newspaper in New York a copy of his speech it would be set in type and corrected proof “slips” would be sent to the other papers, and he would be sure of his speech being printed without mistakes.”
I think that will take a generational change, which Ed won’t care for, but consider; if a generation is considered to be 25 years, and one takes 1994 as the birth year of Internet culture, then we’re over halfway there.
Come the elections of 2020, all will be well!
Postscripts Title quote taken from here. It continues below.
…and when he unfolds his everlasting legs and arms and rises to speak, his unique countenance, expressive of the most complete equanimity, the auditor will feel inclined to beat a most precipitate retreat; but a few moments dispell the illusion and he finds himself listening eagerly to a most profound and concise reasoner, the dry details of political controversy being relieved by flashes of genuine wit.
The origin of the Tom Collins.
The original prank went something like this: A friend would run into you on the street and, with great concern, tell you he just overheard someone named Tom Collins at a bar down the street saying hateful and libelous things about you. You race to that bar to confront the bounder, where you would be told that Tom Collins had just left for a bar several blocks away. When you get there, Collins would already have decamped for another joint across town. As you chase all over the city, your friends convulse with laughter.
Soon, not in on the joke, newspapers in cities across the country were reporting on people trying to find the scurrilous fellow. “Tom Collins Still Among Us,” the Decatur, Ill., Daily Republican reported in June 1874. “This individual kept up his nefarious business of slandering our citizens all day yesterday. But we believe that he succeeded in keeping out of the way of his pursuers. In several instances he came well nigh being caught, having left certain places but a very few moments before the arrival of those who were hunting him. His movements are watched to-day with the utmost vigilance.”
When the papers realized it was all a gag, they got in on the act. The Daily Republican kept playing along for months, gamely reporting that Collins had been spotted in San Luis Obispo, Calif., on his way to Arizona. “Next spring,” the paper predicted, Collins “will jauntily enter the South American republics.”
It doesn’t take much to imagine how Tom Collins came to be a drink. How many times does someone have to barge into a saloon demanding Tom Collins before the bartender takes the opportunity to offer him a cocktail so-named? Indeed, you have to wonder if the whole Tom Collins stunt wasn’t a marketing gimmick to promote pub-crawling.