Friday, May 16, 2008

Obama/McCain: Will this be the candid cycle?

Every season the same thing happens. We all start off with so much hope for the election cycle. New faces emerge with the potential to radically change the electorate or the face of our politics. Then as the race wears on, the battle lines become more entrenched, the mud starts to fly and in the end the voters are so disgusted with both, no one is excited any more. 

I wonder if this cycle won't be different. Not because we are such better people but because of the nature of the campaigns both of these candidates have promised to wage. The nature of the politics Barack Obama is trying to sell to the American people is supposed to elevate up above the realm of name-calling. He is essentially supposed to be changing the game in Washington. It will hurt his brand if he begins to the pivot away from that. 

McCain as well will be looking to stop attack politics. Elevating our discourse to helping the American people is part of the McCain brand and if he lets that aspect drop, Obama will too easily tag him as being part of the old-style politics. 

But I also wonder if there isn't something more cultural at work here. We are in an age not just of 24-hour spin meisters, but 24-hour bloggers and a never-ending commentary cycle. The YouTube effect has already been felt throughout the primary season, as not only can pictures and text be transmitted in the blink of an eye, but so to can video. More important than it's abundance is the nature of peer-to-peer sharing the internet enables. Six million people watched Barack Obama's speech on race in Philadelphia on Youtube. I wonder if that's why the spin camp of team Hillary has run into such opposition, maybe its the legion of bloggers there to parse her words, or compare her positions to past ones. Perhaps its when she talks about dodging sniper fire, there is video that proves it's a lie. Not just on the local news, but posted again and again on blogs and across the internet. 

The home-made-media cycle is beginning to prove its worth this cycle as not only can it be a cash cow, but it is a place for minds to come together. I wonder if these candidates consciously or unconsciously play well in this environment and we might actually see some policy thought this election cycle. 

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