The Politics of Now
Politics is in need of disruption. The current system is not broken but it is being manipulated to an extent that the system is broken beyond. I am happy to report that this is not the case. But if the system isn’t broken then why does it seem that way? It begins with our founding.
In the beginning we established a republic (and rightly so) after seeing the detrimental effects of too much democracy that had plagued the early nation under the Articles of Confederation. A representative democracy would ensure that an elite best suited to make day to day decisions for the nation would do so allowing the rest of us to go about our daily lives. Over time however, powerful moneyed interests began to mobilize and organize to lobby legislators in between elections shifting the balance of power away from the constituents who elected these officials and towards the organized elite that had the time and more importantly the resources to engage with legislators on a regular basis. People became slowly more and more disillusioned as they felt more and more detached from both their fellow citizens and their elected officials. The everyman with his busy life and now a sense of impossibility in engaging the system simply gives up, giving the organized interests even more undue power.
This can change. Money doesn’t buy politics. Money can buy organization for a group of like-minded people and it can buy visibility in an election. That’s all it can do though. Money DOES NOT BUY VOTES. It is the citizens who allow themselves to be manipulated into believing they cannot vote their hearts, that they most always vote strategically for the candidate with the best chance of beating the guy they hate the most. Voting has descended into negative voting (i.e. against candidates) rather than positive voting. The special interests contribute to this because they organize their supporters to be strategic voters as well.
In the past few years this system has begun to be challenged. The silent majority of voters, still not organized, are becoming increasingly sophisticated but increasingly disillusioned because of the extraordinary effect the Internet has already had on civic education of voters. In the past year we’ve seen extraordinary feats of mass political organization (Occupy, SOPA, PIPA, the BofA hidden fees debacle, NDAA, the Arab Spring) made possible by the Internet.
The Internet allows these people to organize, to coordinate their message, to collaborate effectively among thousands without needing a sizable financial backing or even a formal organization around them. The ability to express yourself to millions without any connections to the “traditional” political world fundamentally is changing the political landscape. People are starting to have the same organizational abilities as the special interests and are less susceptible to traditional attempts at political obfuscation . This makes it harder and harder for the money to win elections because the everyman, more and more, makes up his own mind. He’s able to research the issues more effectively, rally people to his cause through his online presence and make the deluge of TV ads less and less effective in determining elections results (Santorum in IA, Gingrich in SC both won with less than 1/5th of Romney’s money). Politics is changing and as the people are able to participate and engage more and more between elections we’re changing not just the influence of money in the system but more interestingly the nature of the Republic itself.