The infancy of e-democracy

Houses of Parliament by night I have to confess to a certain bullish optimism about the potential of internet technologies to transform the way democratic governments operate – but I’m not under any illusions that we’re even close to success yet. There are steps being taken in the right direction, however – Michael Cross takes a look at the UK government’s electronic petition site, and concludes that – while it’s largely used in frivolous ways at the moment – the fact that it’s there at all, allowing admittedly odd (and occasionally crack-pot) opinions to appear on government webspace can only be a good sign. [Image by spjwebster]

Sadly, politics being politics, new technology isn’t always going to be used in the nicest of ways – I was rather disappointed to hear [via MetaFilter] that the US Democrats are crowdsourcing their smear campaigns by supplying video footage of Republican candidates for people to remix as they see fit. Fighting fire with fire … as the old anarchist joke goes, “it doesn’t matter who you vote for, the government always gets in”.

[tags]internet, politics, democracy[/tags]

3 thoughts on “The infancy of e-democracy”

  1. Please explain to me how using a candidate’s own words is a “smear” campaign. If it is, in fact, a smear, haven’t Republicans been using it as their prime modus operendi for some years? Or is it only a smear when a Democrat does it?

  2. I would call much of the taking-out-of-context of clips that Republicans have done ‘smearing’ also, as I would call Democrats doing it.

    If they’re not taking things out of context, they’re not ‘smearing.’ But the fact that anybody can make an ad means there will lots of detritus up there that would count as smearing. Let’s hope whoever chooses the ads can filter them out.

  3. Mr Lockwood, you misconstrue me as being partisan where I am, in fact, unaligned to either side – as I assumed by parting shot would make clear.

    My entire point is that these tactics being deployed by anyone merely contributes to the perceived moral bankruptcy of all politicians, not just in the US Republican and Democratic parties, but their equivalents here in the UK and elsewhere.

    I am a rarity in my age demographic, because I actually bother to vote, although I frequently wonder why I bother. Because when I ask my peers why they don’t, the answer they give me is one that rings in my own mind when I think about it: “There’s nothing to choose between.”

    When I see a political movement or party that decides, in a radical and almost unprecedented move, to focus on primarily discussing themselves and their own ideas in a positive light and to leave the opposition to dig their own hole, I’ll see the first party that I will consider examining in detail as worthy of my support. In the meantime, I will continue to vote tactically in the hope that my small contribution will in some way fend off what sometimes feels like an inexorable slide into corporate feudalism with fascist undertones.

    Your mileage, of course, may vary.

Comments are closed.