Shannon’s Corner

My Conversation on Social Media

The “People Powered Politics” Train Has Left the Station

The thing that struck me most when reading Garrett Graff’s The First Campaign was how he put together the pieces of the technological landscape beginning with Dave Hughes in 1965, through his experiences with Howard Dean and up to today.  He makes a powerful argument for all Americans – not just politicians – that the world as we know it has changed because of the internet and the sooner we understand and embrace it, the better. 

Some of the consequences we have seen have been internalized mostly as pieces of this new tech landscape.  But when we look at all the pieces collected together by Graff, we see the full scope and power of online conversations. Graff demonstrates that the internet allowed The Drudge Report in 1998 to break the Monica Lewinsky scandal, bloggers to report on then senate majority leader Trent Lott’s 2002 comment at Senator Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday party, and the 2006 video of Senator George Allen’s racist remark to a University of Virginia student posted on YouTube for thousands of viewers.

Graff also points out Governor Dean, or rather, Dr. Dean’s rise in 2003 to demonstrate another side of the power of the internet. Utilizing the internet for grassroots fundraising as never done before, Dean raised a record $7.6 million in contributions from 73 thousand people with an average contribution of $112 in just one quarter.  In July 2006 progressive bloggers teamed up with Ned Lamont to launch a fierce campaign against Connecticut’s Senator Joe Lieberman and his increasingly conservative views.  The result? Joe Lieberman lost the Democratic primary and was forced to run as an independent to maintain his senate seat.  This situation was a far cry from just six years prior when he ran on the Vice Presidential ticket with Al Gore!

News online used to mean either a mainstream news organization’s website or gossip. Now, Graff writes “ordinary people were stepping into the space” and thanks to the internet, politics is again “people powered.”  He further writes that “nine out of ten Americans believe that if we fail to innovate, our economy and our children will be left behind in the twenty-first century.” Graff highlights this statistic to drive home his message that we are at a critical time in history when life and times are moving at such a rapid rate that if we don’t keep up, there will be painful consequences.


July 25, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized |

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