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The Web Fueling A Crisis In Politics?

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the maybe-in-britland dept.

322

An anonymous reader writes "The BBC is reporting that Tony Blair's outgoing chief strategy adviser fears the internet could be fueling a crisis in the relationship between politicians and voters. 'Mr Taylor said Mr Blair's online grilling from voters — and other initiatives such as environment secretary David Miliband's blog and Downing Street's new online petition service — showed the government was making good progress in using the Internet to become more open and accountable. But he said more needed to be done by the web community in general to encourage people to use the internet to "solve problems" rather than simply abuse politicians or make "incommensurate" demands on them.' 'But rather than work out these dilemmas in partnership with their elected leaders, they were encouraged to regard all politicians as corrupt or mendacious by the media, which he described as "a conspiracy to maintain the population in a perpetual state of self-righteous rage." Whether media was left wing or right wing, the message was always that 'leaders are out there to shaft you.'" Some credit was given to the Internet for high voter turnout in this month's elections ... how is that a bad thing?

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That has got to be the funniest thing I've read (5, Funny)

DRAGONWEEZEL (125809) | more than 7 years ago | (#16886682)

All Day.

Whether media was left wing or right wing, the message was always that 'leaders are out there to shaft you'."


And, they are not?

What an interesting proposition.

Re:That has got to be the funniest thing I've read (2, Insightful)

Some_Llama (763766) | more than 7 years ago | (#16886720)

I think like most endeavors, potential leaders start off trying to help to people but as time goes on they are either corrupted by the power they are given or become disillusioned by the corruption that already exists...

There are "some" politicians that can resist and for the most part do a really good job, the problem is they are in the minority and end up having no "real" power to effect change.

Re:That has got to be the funniest thing I've read (5, Insightful)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#16886968)

I'm to the point that I don't think a politician can get on the ballot without being corrupted. Campaigns are expensive in comparison to the salaries politicians earn- VERY expensive (like it will cost you an average of $500,000 to get a seat that will pay you back, if you're lucky, $60,000 in salary over two years before you have to campaign again). That just invites corruption from the start- before a politician is ever elected he's already been bought by one or more special interests.

Re:That has got to be the funniest thing I've read (2, Interesting)

rufty_tufty (888596) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887608)

"ike it will cost you an average of $500,000 to get a seat"
And there is your problem - ask why it takes $500,000 to get a seat.

Because people vote for a face they're familiar with, regardless of how well they know them; and because $500,000 is how much buisnesses are prepared to pay for the ammount of power they can get from this person.

Not an easy problem to fix, but the best one I see is either make publicity cheaper with the internet, and/or remove the ammount of power those people have and spread it around a bit more.
Unless someone has a better idea?

Re:That has got to be the funniest thing I've read (2, Funny)

Moofie (22272) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887704)

"And there is your problem - ask why it takes $500,000 to get a seat."

Supply and demand. People will pay that kind of money for a seat, therefore that's how much they cost. Invisible Hand FTW!

Re:That has got to be the funniest thing I've read (3, Interesting)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887834)

And there is your problem - ask why it takes $500,000 to get a seat.

Well, there's the initial filing fees, the campaigning inside the party to get the nomination, the TV time at $10,000 for a single 30 second advert, the campaigning against other candidates- democracy in a free market is expensive even if your main form of advertisement is just handbills (printing costs money!)

Because people vote for a face they're familiar with, regardless of how well they know them; and because $500,000 is how much buisnesses are prepared to pay for the ammount of power they can get from this person.

Yep- and unfortuneately the salary-to-campaign-costs is a logrithmic scale- the higher up your are, the more the corps are willing to pay your challenger, so the more you have to spend to get the seat.

Not an easy problem to fix, but the best one I see is either make publicity cheaper with the internet, and/or remove the ammount of power those people have and spread it around a bit more.
Unless someone has a better idea?


Not better, just different- how about removing personhood, and therefore free speech rights, from the corporations? Then at least you're down to individual private contributions instead.

Re:That has got to be the funniest thing I've read (1)

diersing (679767) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887970)

$60,000 in salary over two years
Most politicians have fund raisers, that money goes into the coffers to pay for advertising and whatnot ~ although some wealthy businessmen will pay for their own stuff out of pocket - Steve Forbes did as much running for president a few years back. Campaign finance is a quagmire where getting the candidates ear (whether it be at a $500 golf outing for a $2500 a plate dinner) makes people want to further back the candidate because, right or wrong, they feel like they have an "in". We all know politicians are smooth talking snakes in the grass and no where is this skill more honed then pressing the flesh with fat checks at stake. They tell everyone exactly what they want to hear as their pursue office. There is a tremendous amount of ego on display, no doubt.

Not sure where you got the 60k number, but last I read (and it has been a while), most federally elected congressmen and senators are clearing six figures per year - it has escalated since they vote for their own pay raises. The fund raisers are a constant, not just when they are campaigning, but the frequency and $$ amount will both spike leading up to an election. And then there are the party's smear campaigns which come from a different pool of money that the candidate doesn't have direct access or direction over. And there is the back-room, cognac & cigar fund raisers that the public doesn't see (cept in the movies) that we generally accept as fact.

The political internet interest can be attributed, IMHO, to Howard Dean who raised a tremendous amount of money from single donors online (each less then $500) when was campaigning for the democratic nomination in 2004. What I would prefer to see political internet activity focus on, is developing a secure way to vote online - and ongoing issues put to the people where our feedback could be gathered - when 51% of the constituents say YEA/NAY to a proposed bill, the elected representative follows suit on the floor. But that's me, I'm a dreamer.

Re:That has got to be the funniest thing I've read (4, Funny)

thrillseeker (518224) | more than 7 years ago | (#16886994)

There are "some" politicians that can resist and for the most part do a really good job

True - I always vote for the dead politician when presented with the opportunity.

The Patient Shows No Insight Into Their Condition (1)

Blue Stone (582566) | more than 7 years ago | (#16886980)

> "But rather than work out these dilemmas in partnership with their elected leaders, they were encouraged to regard all politicians as corrupt or mendacious by the media, which he described as 'a conspiracy to maintain the population in a perpetual state of self-righteous rage'."

Yeah, that's right, it's a conspiracy!
Honestly, is it any wonder we regard them as out of touch? They think it's anyone's fault but their own.

Re:The Patient Shows No Insight Into Their Conditi (1)

ethanrider (129483) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887898)

Honestly, is it any wonder we regard them as out of touch? They think it's anyone's fault but their own.

It is a wonder, because that's what we think too!

Oh yeah? (3, Insightful)

cakefool (801210) | more than 7 years ago | (#16886688)

Well give us something to make positive comments about then...

Seriously, transparency within the government for example, will cut down on a lot of wasted money as people become outraged at where their money goes.

That might be a bad example - just causes more rantyblogs...

High Turnout (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16886692)

High turnout is bad for the right wing.

Re:High Turnout (3, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#16886946)

High turnout is bad for the right wing.

Um, exept in the previous election (here, I'm referring to the US), when it was the Republicans' ability to create a high turnout that was credited with much of their election success. Your statement assumes a steady state of context, which is nonsense.

Re:High Turnout (1)

phishtrader (741975) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887164)

High turn-out in a particular demographic sector; Evangelical Christians.

Left politicians are usually more populist than their opponents on the right. Therefore, if you can get more voters to the polls, they will vote for the candidate that promises them the most.

Re:High Turnout (1)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887226)

It was more the ability to turn out the right voters that helped them, rather than an overall increase in turnout.

Re:High Turnout (2, Interesting)

doom (14564) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887656)

ScentCone wrote:
High turnout is bad for the right wing.
Um, except in the previous election (here, I'm referring to the US), when it was the Republicans' ability to create a high turnout that was credited with much of their election success.

Actually, the Republicans appear to have won the 2004 election by magically creating millions of votes out of nowhere... it's probably not the best example for the point you're trying to make: The exit polls were right -- Freeman and Mittledorf [inthesetimes.com] .

And in general, it's a pretty well-accepted truism that high-turnouts in the US favor the Democrats -- ir appears that conservatives are better about getting their act together to fill in forms, which is not necessarily something for the Democrats to be proud of. Though on the other hand, if you're inclined to think of the Democrats as the party of the little guys, that appears to be pretty accurate -- a lot of the voter fraud exploits the Republicans were using in 2004 involved trying to disenfanchise the downtrodden (e.g. ex-convicts, black people, etc).

Re:High Turnout (3, Informative)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887186)

High turnout is bad for the right wing.

The funny part of that is that Mr. Blair is actually a Labour party candidate....the left wing of British Politics.

Re:High Turnout (1)

ynohoo (234463) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887484)

the only left-wing policies of "New" Labour is the ongoing supression of liberties and rights. Other than that they adopted entirely Thatcherite policies.

It's funny the the way Blair keeps saying he wants a "dialog with the people". Unfortunately his idea of dialog is where he does the talking, then you applaud.

Re:High Turnout (1)

ian13550 (697991) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887920)

IIRC (from way back in my PoliSci classes in college) high voter turnout is considered "bad" for the incumbent (regardless of political affiliation) as it is an indication of greater voter dissatisfaction. The theory goes that happy/satisfied people don't get out in large numbers to vote... but unhappy/dissatisfied people do.

Of course, the apathetic people just don't give a rats *ss and stay home as well.

Wahhhhh... (3, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#16886730)

Politicians are having their dirty laundry aired to the world and they are complaining. What a suprise.

Honestly they brought it upon themselves.. The dirty spear campaigns have existed since the civil war and they will continue, the net is simply a new tool they realize they can use.

Re:Wahhhhh... (1)

bigpat (158134) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887178)

Honestly they brought it upon themselves.. The dirty spear campaigns have existed since the civil war and they will continue, the net is simply a new tool they realize they can use.

The difference being that if you paid off the right people then you could have previously squashed scandals and kept them simply word of mouth rumors. Now if there is dirt out there, then someone on some messageboard is going to start a thread on it and instantly they have worldwide distribution potential. I think the key there is "potential", since most people can tell for themselves what is garbage and what is relevant. And only what people think is relevant or particularly shocking is going to get passed on in a word of mouth pattern, except now accelerated by electronic communication.

So, published communications is now no longer just a tool that they can use, it is a tool that everyone can use. Which is really what they are complaining about. I think polticians, like the rest of us, just need to get a little backbone. People say nasty things about eachother which are often exaggerated for effect but have some basis in truth. People should learn to address criticisms not just dismiss it as insult.

Re:Wahhhhh... (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887612)

FTFA: "What is the big breakthrough, in terms of politics, on the web in the last few years? It's basically blogs which are, generally speaking, hostile and, generally speaking, basically see their job as every day exposing how venal, stupid, mendacious politicians are."

Sounds like he's describing "The Daily Show"

Politicians have always done boneheaded things, lied & generally behaved irresponsibly. The only difference between "Old Media" and "The Internet" is that on the internet, there is no editor who has to say "we don't have enough inches of column to run that story" or "we can't fit that into our broadcast".

Even though it is said that "all politics is local," nowadays, anyone can read about the latest 'local' scandal.

Almost got it (4, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#16886734)

Whether media was left wing or right wing, the message was always that 'leaders are out there to shaft you'.
Well, that's the effect.. but the motivation is not to shaft the people, but to better their on situation. Perhaps "the leaders are out there to benefit themselves with little regard for you" is more fitting.

Is it any surprise that people in power are unhappy when they no longer control public opinion? When the people have sources of information that run counter to the corporations that control both government and the media?

All politicians are corrupt... (4, Insightful)

clambake (37702) | more than 7 years ago | (#16886738)

"Whether media was left wing or right wing, the message was always that 'leaders are out there to shaft you'."

Sounds about right to me... When a new laws are passed that mandate life in prison or the death penalty (for countries that do that) for taking political bribes, THEN I'll start looking at them more objectivly. It *should* be next to impossible for those in power to abuse that power to the detriment of the people who elect them... But the way the system works now, it's almost impossible NOT to become corrupt.

Re:All politicians are corrupt... (1)

AugstWest (79042) | more than 7 years ago | (#16886790)

I couldn't agree more. If the politicians want to push Mandatory Minimum Sentences for minor drug offenses, then I want Mandatory Minimums for political corruption.

Screw your constituency? Go to jail for a long time. Federal pound-em-in-the--ass prison.

Re:All politicians are corrupt... (1)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 7 years ago | (#16886976)

Yeah sure. If we did that, there would be so many politicians in jail, that there would be special politician jails that were more like resorts or country clubs than prisons.

Re:All politicians are corrupt... (2, Insightful)

Old Grey Beard (869804) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887074)

Whether media was left wing or right wing, the message was always that 'leaders are out there to shaft you'.

The Left and the Right are both Statist, ergo the never-ending growth in government. What you want are legislators willing to reduce the size of the State. Sadly that's almost an oxymoron. Today's children are tomorrow's ... subjects.

Re:All politicians are corrupt... (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887442)

What you want are legislators willing to reduce the size of the State.

Such legislators cannot be elected in any capitalist society- the real money payback in paying for a politician's campaign is in the pork. Who would invest $4 million in the campaign of somebody who won't return any pork?

The real sad thing is the con game the libertarians have going- convincing people that cutting taxes isn't just another form of pork.

Re:All politicians are corrupt... (1)

Moofie (22272) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887758)

"convincing people that cutting taxes isn't just another form of pork."

OK, you're going to have to walk me through this.

Pork is when I take tax dollars collected nationally, and spend them on my pet project locally. Cutting taxes is when I take less tax dollars nationally. These two activities are not the same thing.

Re:All politicians are corrupt... (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887916)

OK, you're going to have to walk me through this.

Glad to.

Pork is when I take tax dollars collected nationally, and spend them on my pet project locally. Cutting taxes is when I take less tax dollars nationally. These two activities are not the same thing.

Ah, but expenses stay the same, and tax cuts aren't national- they're targeted to benefit certain groups of people. Some states have more of those groups than others, and the burden to pay more taxes to replace the lost revenue is simply shifted. Worse yet is when they don't pass other additional taxes to replace the lost revenue- then the cost is shifted temporally instead of geographically, as additional taxes will be required in the future to pay back not only the lost revenue, but interest on the lost revenue. It's just another form of pork- enchancing the status of a portion of the population at the cost of other people in the population. The biggest expansion of the middle class ever recorded in any country was in the United States in the 1950s- under 95% top progressive marginal income tax, which essentially flattened the economy so that the richest CEO and the lowest ditch digger were paid the same. All tax cuts since then have increased the difference in wealth between the two.

This is why I wrote the JE today targeting the late Milton Friedman as the architect of poverty.

Re:All politicians are corrupt... (1)

subtilior (694729) | more than 7 years ago | (#16888014)

"Expenses stay the same?" I thought libertarianism was all about reducing the influence of the state on our lives. Surely expenses go down if the state does less.

Problem Solving (5, Insightful)

Renniks (989959) | more than 7 years ago | (#16886750)

But he said more needed to be done by the web community in general to encourage people to use the internet to "solve problems" rather than simply abuse politicians or make "incommensurate" demands on them.

Incommensurate demands? Like what?
Honesty?
Free Speech?
Free Internet?
Please the only thing politicians want to do with the internet is censor it, own it, and tax it.

Incommensurate Demands (1)

doom (14564) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887116)

From the article:
They wanted "sustainability", for example, but not higher fuel prices, affordable homes for their children but not new housing developments in their town or village.

He has a point here, of course (though I don't see what the internet has to do with this). If you look at the referrenda in California state, the voters are up to their old tricks of approving bond issues and turning down tax increases.

Re:Problem Solving (3, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887310)

Incommensurate demands? Like what?

Like "free" healthcare, including batteries of medical tests using equipment and services that costs thousands per patient, per event to operate/provide... while in the same breath demanding subsidized college tuition, tax credits for everything under the sun... all of that nice have your cake and eat it too type stuff.

Like, freedom from violent fanatics without any inconvenient actual action that might be required to actually deal with such people.

Like magical minimum wages provided to employees of small businesses without the necessary consequence of the small business hiring fewer people or raising the prices of what they provide.

Like demands that Wal-Mart be somehow less damaging to higher-priced local businesses, without actually running Wal-Mart out of town, because gee, it's sure nice to be able to go in there for lower prices.

Like demands that students not be "socially promoted" through public education without basic education skills while also demanding that substandard teachers and administrators not be let go, and students not be expected to comprehensively read and write.

Like demanding that when choosing to live below sea level in the direct path of recurring hurricanes, that the government take care of the costs of the inevitable messes without expecting the residents to recognize that they've chosen (for as long as they can get the government to keep bailing them out) to lead a more expensive life on other taxpayers' pockets.

You said "honesty." So, yeah, honesty would be calling that sort of stuff like it actually is.

Re:Problem Solving (1)

udderly (890305) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887934)

Like demands that Wal-Mart be somehow less damaging to higher-priced local businesses, without actually running Wal-Mart out of town, because gee, it's sure nice to be able to go in there for lower prices.

There used to be a general store type operation in the small town in rural Oklahoma that my mom lived in for a few years. Their prices were exorbitant, their service horrible, their refund policy non-existent and they paid minimum wage to their employees. But they were the only game in town unless you wanted to drive 75 miles to the nearest city of consequence. When Walmart came to town, the store quickly went out of business much to the delight of the locals.

The moral of they story? Even though Plaid-pants Republicans and the Limousine Liberals don't consider it stylish to be a Walmart shopper, many of us are glad that there are Walmart stores.

In other words... (4, Insightful)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 7 years ago | (#16886752)

fears the internet could be fueling a crisis in the relationship between politicians and voters
In other words you can't lie all day, because (at least) one blogger will spread the word and hold you accountable? Truly a crisis.

Re:In other words... (4, Interesting)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887848)

If you RTFA, you'd see that the real issue being discussed is the problem of (on the internet) people berating, criticizing and/or demanding of government (officials) without offering any solutions or compromises.

Voters want results, but not costs:
Better schools without raising taxes.
Cleaner power... but Not In My Back Yard!
Cheaper housing, but no more construction
Et cetera

At least in the real world, if you want to make those gripes, you have to write in to your local paper, or attend a town hall meeting... where the politicians can respond to you directly.

Perhaps... (1)

get quad (917331) | more than 7 years ago | (#16886760)

Perhaps if said politicians weren't totally power-hungry fucking assbags this wouldn't be so much of a problem for them.

Re:Perhaps... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16887114)

Don't hold back now. Tell us how you really feel.

"how is that bad thing?" (4, Insightful)

m93 (684512) | more than 7 years ago | (#16886780)



Because the traditional methods of influence and control are not standing up to what the web has made available. It's an easier and more effective mechanism for criticizing your leaders, as well as organizing against them.

Bottome line: you have slightly more control now, and the leadership does not like that a bit.

Re:"how is that bad thing?" (1)

OldeTimeGeek (725417) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887162)

All that may be true, but it's also easier to spread lies and disinformation.

In an environment where people are all too willing to believe everything that they read and nobody trusts politicians anyway, which do you think is going to spread farther, faster? The truth that disagrees with everyone's point of view or the lie that supports it? The boring truth or a salacious falsehood?

He has a Point (2, Insightful)

Black-Man (198831) | more than 7 years ago | (#16886798)

>>"They wanted "sustainability", for example, but not higher fuel prices, affordable homes for their children but not new housing developments in their town or village. "

A lot of the political posts on this form fall into this category. Nobody in the US wants coal-fired power plants, but they don't want the price of electricity to double. They want energy conservation, but they want their server farms burning enough electricity to power 10 homes. On and on....

Re:He has a Point (2, Insightful)

bigpat (158134) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887344)

A lot of the political posts on this form fall into this category. Nobody in the US wants coal-fired power plants, but they don't want the price of electricity to double. They want energy conservation, but they want their server farms burning enough electricity to power 10 homes. On and on....

And politicians have forever been promising us everything, and telling us that they need the fruit of our labor to deliver. All of a sudden they can't deliver what was promised and it is our fault for expecting too much? Yes, people might have been fools for believing the politicians, but at least as bad were the generations of politicians, including this one, that have promised us everything to justify taking more from us.

I think politicians just want a return to the good old days when taxes were low and there was more room to raise them.

Re:He has a Point (3, Interesting)

CompSci101 (706779) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887512)

The things you're citing from the article are high-level problems that actually could have used government intervention to guide a common effort into a better place for everybody. They have been identified for a long time as something that needs real leadership on (energy sustainability, equity of opportunity for economic advancement of the young and poor, etc.) as these issues require concessions to be made on all sides and real leaders to broker a compromise between the competing interests. Sadly, we get none.

These people are there to serve the public interest, and not line their pockets in a perpetual job. They have lost sight of this.

For the author to essentially complain that "They asked us for transparency, and then bitched and moaned because what they saw on the inside was rotten to the core," is absurd. Of course we should complain! We aren't and weren't normally afforded the insight and oversight to make sure the current state of affairs never came to pass. We elected our representatives and expected them (naively) to do their jobs. And many of those representatives have had their positions for longer than much of their constituency has been alive (hyperbole, but not by much), at least here in the States. I'm not sure how easy it is for an incumbent to be re-elected in England but if it's anything like the States then said representative complaining that the constituency is restless probably is/was/has been part of the problem to begin with.

People say you get the government you deserve -- I believe this is true only if the government is truly accountable to the people. In the US, for at least as long as I've been alive, this has not been the case.

C

coal power, etc. (1)

doom (14564) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887874)

Black-Man wrote:
Nobody in the US wants coal-fired power plants, but they don't want the price of electricity to double.

Close, but I think it would be more correct to say that they don't want coal-plants and can't bear the thought that they were wrong about nuclear plants.

But even that's not quite right, it's more like they want to reduce emissions of "green house gases" and think they can do that somehow by switching to electric vehicles, when really that'll make the problem worse if they don't replace the coal plants with something else, but they don't exactly understand that half of their electricity is coming from coal plants, and that coal power is an astoundingly nasty 18th century technology (even if you don't factor in "global warming" concerns) --

And maybe they should've started working on solar power sats thirty years ago when we were telling them to, but hey, what do a bunch of techie-nerds know about anything, eh?

But perhaps I digress.

so what if the media says it (1)

Geekboy(Wizard) (87906) | more than 7 years ago | (#16886800)

its still true.

politicians are out to line their pockets, by any means necessary. and if that happens to screw over their constituents, then grab your ankles and grit your teeth.

Great Spin (5, Interesting)

FreeRadicalX (899322) | more than 7 years ago | (#16886818)

This looks like another case of political spin attempting to fix the symptom and not the problem. If you're a politician and the internet reveals that the people you represent are angry at you, it's not your job to block that anger or try to make them express something else- it's your job to find the source of that anger and make it right again. The "Damn The Man" mentality doesn't arise spontaneously on it's own, there's always a reason fueling it- wether it be obscure or not. And hey, when you're in a position of power as great as Tony Blair's, this kind of thing should be expected. Complaining about it seems to be to be the equivalent of a construction worker complaining about all the noise or a pianist complaining about the number of notes on his piano.

Basically, deal with it.

Do You Punch Little Buttons and Things? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16886832)

LARRY KING: On your blog you write, "Bush is going to declare war on China next, I swear."

        ROSEANNE BARR: I was so scared because I woke up and there was the Drudge, you know. I always read the Drudge Report and it said on there that the Chinese were like, you know, spying on our subs or doing something with our subs and I was like, "Oh no, he's going to think that's an act of war and then we're going to go over there next." I mean we're everywhere. We're everywhere.

        KING: The Internet as a political medium viable?

        BARR: Yes, it's like the only one left, absolutely, and that's not just me saying it. That's everybody saying it.

        KING: But there's 80 billion things on it.

        BARR: Yes, but if you know where to look, you know, it all can come together. When you're looking for the particular information that you're looking for after you do the big search, this is what I found out by going on there, it just takes your mind and then you live in there forever. You can never come out.

        KING: I've never done it, never gone searching.

        BARR: Oh, my God! It just opens up the whole universe. It's so awesome. You would love it.

        KING: No, I wouldn't.

        BARR: Anything you want to know.

        KING: The wife loves it. I wouldn't love it. What do you punch little buttons and things?

        BARR: You just click on this thing. The thing is you got to be able to read, so you have to have strong glasses when you've over 50 and then you just scroll down and click. It's not that hard. I can show you how to do it.

        KING: No, thanks.

What ? Did Politicians do anything to solve - (2, Interesting)

unity100 (970058) | more than 7 years ago | (#16886846)

- problems so that people will be obliged to try to solve problems between them and polticians ?

you have sucked people's blood for over centuries. very little 'people's men/women' have been able to pass through your elite circle and become heads of state/ministers.

go away pal. no can do. internet is a new thing, it is 'us', and 'we' are going towards direct democracy step by step.

What the...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16886876)

What the heck is this "Experimental threading one two three four"? I looked in the FAQ but couldn't find it.

Re:What the...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16887020)

Yeah, I was wondering that too. I can't tell what the hell it's supposed to do.

Re:What the...? (1)

thrillseeker (518224) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887110)

I can't tell what the hell it's supposed to do.

I had a Larry King moment and clicked the little buttons and things, but nothing happened except Roseanne Barr became a political genius.

Re:What the...? (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887270)

You have to look at Cmdr Taco's JE. It's part of Discussion 2 upgrade- think of it as + and - controls, but he wants us to learn to use them on our own and decide how we want to use them, so he just labeled them one two three and four.

Solve problems (1)

doconnor (134648) | more than 7 years ago | (#16886878)

more needed to be done by the web community in general to encourage people to use the internet to 'solve problems' rather than simply abuse politicians or make 'incommensurate' demands on them.

I had a few ideas about that. I put together a few ideas for Internet based direct democracy. It is a system I call DDD [reamined.on.ca] . Hopefully in the next few months I'll be able to get started on creating a prototype.

There is a crisis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16886920)

The crisis is that the internet gives a voice to everyone. Now, not everyone is articulate and not everyone has interesting things to say. But if john q public says something in his blog that resonates with a LOT of people - for example, a critical look at some politician - and gets noticed, it makes the politician look bad. So good for john. If the people in power are more accountable for the times that they make mistakes, they'll have more motive for change.

A written documentation of this thats one-click away is an easily accessible public record unlike newspapers which requires going to a library and digging up archives or microform.

Times change, and this is a good thing.

How Dare They! (2, Interesting)

Doug Dante (22218) | more than 7 years ago | (#16886966)

'a conspiracy to maintain the population in a perpetual state of self-righteous rage'

I went through this.

Growing up, in a public school: Government works for our benefit

Then, as an adult I came to understand: Government works for its own benefit

I understand that we VOTE for the government: Government works.

Or as Churchill said: "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."

This is not to say that there is no injustice.

Just because I want our government to:

Free John Murtari! In jail and on hunger strike Since July 31st, 2006!

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/52668/joh n_murtari_receives_feeding_tube.html [associatedcontent.com]

Doesn't mean that I don't love my country.

Corrupt? Politicians? Never! (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 7 years ago | (#16886998)

'But rather than work out these dilemmas in partnership with their elected leaders, they were encouraged to regard all politicians as corrupt or mendacious by the media, which he described as 'a conspiracy to maintain the population in a perpetual state of self-righteous rage'.
  - Matthew Taylor, former Chief Strategy Advisor to Tony Blair, November 2006.

Is this the same Tony Blair whose political party has been responsible for the Cash for Honours [wikipedia.org] scandal which is currently being investigated by police? I think we should be told.

(For those who don't know, seats in the second house of parliament in the UK used to be got from either inheriting a lordship or being granted one by the Queen. These days, they're all appointed by the Queen - on the basis of the government's recommendations)

He's kind of out-of-line here (2, Insightful)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887002)

"simply abuse politicians or make "incommensurate" demands on them.'"

translation: criticize politicians for abuses by the politians and demand that they actually act in good faith in regards to keeping the public trust.

Given the security state Britain has become.... (3, Insightful)

Jtheletter (686279) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887032)

I don't think any media conspiracy or otherwise is necessary to induce rage and contempt for politicians from the public. Just looking up at any street corner to see the CCTV cameras of the state watching you (what's the ratio these days? something like 1 camera per 7 people* in London?) would be plenty enough to enrage me. Or how about Blair's lapdog-to-Bush style of international relations? The concessions to the US on international plane traveler privacy laws? Forcing a massive upgrade to passports that turns out to be flawed and insecure? I mean, hell, I'm not even a British citizen or even traveled there for that matter and these things have me pissed off!

Let's face it, the internet can be used to help the public suggest changes and work with their representatives to improve the situation. But is it any surprise that the overwhleming volume of comments and the like are nothing but complaints? Maybe when some of the glaring abuses of government and invasions of privacy start to be addressed people will be more willing to calm down and discuss things with a focus on solutions. I agree, suggesting solutions and working to fix things is a better idea than just ranting and making unfeasible demands. But then again maybe if the government had listened to salient points of contention in the first place, or put people's privacy, rights, and well being ahead of politics then it wouldn't be so bad right now.

* I don't claim this figure to be accurate, might be off by an order of magnitude, take it with salt. ;)

Re:Given the security state Britain has become.... (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887654)

any street corner to see the CCTV cameras of the state watching you

I'm personally amazed at the British response to this development. I would have expected more Monty Python Wannabees putting on shows for the government or small plastic dinasoars taped to said cameras- instead you've pretty much got business as usual there.

Grammer school (good) boys always know best (1)

sjwest (948274) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887710)


Tony Blair naturally knows best - he wont even tell his solidiers in Iraq where the wmd is.

Corrupt politicians (1)

infradead (411971) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887070)

they were encouraged to regard all politicians as corrupt or mendacious by the media

Since Blair's government is currently under criminal investigation, it's a viewpoint which is entirely sustained by the available evidence.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/ne ws/2006/11/17/npeers17.xml [telegraph.co.uk]

remind's me of the trilateral commission (1)

testadicazzo (567430) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887096)

remind's me of the report by the trilateral commission http://www.trilateral.org/projwork/tfrsums/tfr08.h tm [trilateral.org] The Crisis of Democracy"

Re:remind's me of the trilateral commission (1)

testadicazzo (567430) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887148)

arg, hit submit by accident. Wanted to say it reminds me of the trilateral commission's "The Crisis of Democracy", whos thesis was basically 'we have a crisis: too much democracy'. All these previously obediant masses, like women and blacks, are demanding things like equal rights and better government representation.

That's right - blame the voters (5, Insightful)

mikerich (120257) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887098)

Dear Matthew, (can I call you Matthew?)

Your government is elected by a minority of the electorate using a system that gives it an overwhelming majority in the House of Commons. Your Members of Parliament say their first loyalty is to the Party and the manifesto, not to the electorate. You ensure almost all votes are whipped through Parliament with fearful penalties if an MP disobeys the Party line. You have changed your Party conferences so that votes by the members have no bearing on policy making which is performed behind closed doors. You refuse freedom of information requests that would allow the electorate to see that policies are enacted according to regulations. You take money from multimillionaires and do not declare it to the authorities; coincidentally, all of these donors then become members of the House of Lords where they become law makers. You pass legislation that require people to get police permission to protest outside of Parliament. You rip up ancient laws that regulate the power of the State over the citizen and propose to take more for yourselves. You politicise the intelligence service, getting your spin doctors to sell a war planned in collusion with a foreign power.

You shouldn't be so much wondering why voters feel alienated, as be amazed that we haven't dragged you out of Downing Street and strung you up outside of Parliament.

High voter turnout is a bad thing (2, Interesting)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887108)

Some credit was given to the internet for high voter turnout in this month's elections ... how is that bad thing?


It's a bad thing because it means that merely relying on a party's base to come out and vote isn't enough. In the most recent election, the Republicans had a higher number of their people turn out than did the Democrats.

However, the large independent vote is what turned the tide. Independent voters turned out in higher numbers than in previous midterm elections and voted overwhelmingly for Democrats.

So yes, high voter turnout is a bad. But only if you're one of the two major parties because it screws with your polling numbers. Witness Karl Rove's pronouncement that the entire media world was wrong when it was saying there would be a Democratic takeover of the House and Senate because he, Karl Rove, was looking at 68 polls a week and he had "THE" math to show that Republicans would hold onto both houses. Partial transcript [pollster.com]

Re:High voter turnout is a bad thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16887872)

Karl Rove, was looking at 68 polls a week and he had "THE" math to show that Republicans would hold onto both houses.

Polls work less well when the administration convinces people it isn't safe to publicly be against the administration. How many polled people were afraid to tell the truth?

Re:High voter turnout is a bad thing (1)

doom (14564) | more than 7 years ago | (#16888012)

Anonymous Coward wrote:
Karl Rove, was looking at 68 polls a week and he had "THE" math to show that Republicans would hold onto both houses.
Polls work less well when the administration convinces people it isn't safe to publicly be against the administration. How many polled people were afraid to tell the truth?

You're really confused, here. If you were following the polls at all, (e.g. by watching Tannenbaum's site [electoral-vote.com] , you would expect pretty much what we got: a close race for the Senate, and a Democratic win in the House. Karl Rove was publically anouncing that this was all wrong, that the Republicans were going to win both, no problem.

This had people like myself who were already feeling paranoid (with good reason, in my opinion) wondering what the hell was going on.

Managing the media and the fourth estate (2, Interesting)

SkipNewarkDE (584096) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887136)

This is rich. The role of the free press was and IS to cast a skeptical and critical eye on the government. In recent years, at least here in the United States, the corporate media has either been complacent or cowed into not fulfilling its journalistic responsibility. We are told the "news" through their filter, and then we have an echo chamber of talking heads which tell us what to "think" about the news. You have certain media outlets that are essentially tools of a particular ideology, echoing talking points and spin by the party in power. Then you have other media outlets who are treading on eggshells because they don't want to upset their corporate masters who are afraid of the impact on the bottom-line when the government tells them they are unpatriotic. It is a real scary slide into fascism, and the media has got to grow some balls. You have certain media outlets that are cheering the government on at one step, quashing dissension on the other hand through their editorial spin, selling fear fear fear, and if all of that fails, trotting out a feeding frenzy over a missing blonde, or a sex scandal, to keep the populace's attention. The media is broke. The web steps into the void and offers a lot of unfiltered information. The saavy consumer of information can gather information from a variety of sources. There are still some problems that arise, but if anything, politicians are less able to rely on the short attention spans of their public.

Missing something (4, Interesting)

nightfire-unique (253895) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887174)

I think one point they're really missing is crucial.

There are a lot of us that are just so tired of "business as usual." We are sick to death of the war on this, the sanctions on that, the backdoor business deals, the pandering and "moral outrage," the manipulation... all of it. The Internet gives us a way to:

- Communicate (with each other) outside regulated channels
- Disseminate information around the world (ie. cameraphone pics - see recent UCLA tasering incident) without censorship
- Effectively inform the busy, everyday, "influenceable mass" when reality is inconsistent with the dominant political opinion

As a simple example - 10 or 20 years ago, very few westerners realized what was happening in the Middle East. We all saw the reports on CNN, or the blurry graphics as American tanks rolled through the desert. Now, we have camera phone pictures coming back from places like Lebanon, showing the devastation caused to people just like us, by our weapons.

The Internet brings people together from places around the world. It makes us, as individuals, realize that we're all the same. We all want to live productive and enjoyable lives in peace, without the overburdening influence of others. When you talk to someone from Iran, and realize that they're basically just like us... it gets difficult to swallow the "end of the world" scenario, used by our governments to justify mass killings.

Mr. Taylor, people are waking up. It's only going to get worse. You will either learn to deal with the fact that lying and manipulation is going to get harder every day, or you will be replaced.

Ironic, isn't it, that the tool that can ultimately be used to control and restrain our governments was created by a government agency.

Re:Missing something (1)

eglamkowski (631706) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887610)

Now, we have camera phone pictures coming back from places like Lebanon, showing the devastation caused to people just like us, by our weapons.

And raw footage of the aftermath of a homicide bomber blowing up a bus.

But for some reason it doesn't seem to cause the same outrage to watch the slaughter of innocent civilians - grandmothers, little kids, students and the like. As long as they're jews, the world seems to just shrug its shoulders and not care. But should anybody ever fight back and harm a single hair on the head of an arab, all hell breaks loose.

*rolls eyes*

There are no innocent victims in the middle east, and there hasn't been for millenia. It's ALWAYS been the most fscked up part of the world since the dawn of civilization.

Re:Missing something (1)

nightfire-unique (253895) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887786)

1. The numbers don't lie.
2. An act of desperation by a suicide bomber cannot be compared to a fighter jet dropping guided bombs on UN outposts, schools, mosques and downtown apartment blocks.
3. If you think no one cares when a suicide bomber blows up a market, .. well. I think we live in different spaces.

Re:Missing something (1)

tfiedler (732589) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887972)

"As a simple example - 10 or 20 years ago, very few westerners realized what was
happening in the Middle East"

You're obviously one of those youngsters that thinks the world never existed before you were born and that all people older than you must be clueless because our youth wasn't infused with information overload.

Sorry to burst your bubble but 10 years ago I knew what was going on in the middle east, and 20 years ago I did as well.

Loony Loony Loony! (1)

smokin_juan (469699) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887202)

'a conspiracy to maintain the population in a perpetual state of self-righteous rage'
Get out the tin foil Mr. Blair!
Next thing you know he'll be saying that 911 was done by Bush and that governments should disclose all they know about the aliens' zero-point energy. Put his loony ass in a padded cell!

Maybe it's good that Blair is dreaming up conspiracies against himself. Maybe showing that the government is starting to fear the people as it's supposed to be rather than the people 'making up' the conspiracy theories.

Re:Loony Loony Loony! (1)

rufty_tufty (888596) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887964)

Exactly! A conspiracy by the voters against the politicians, a secret society hiding on the internet to undermine their duly elected officials by giving their opinions and findings.

Shocking!

sigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16887244)

Some credit was given to the internet for high voter turnout in this month's elections ... how is that bad thing?


its a bad thing in that its yet one more thing for people to consider, and think, 'i have a choice in how this country is going to operate, i have a choice in deciding the policies that will be applied when i cast this vote'.

in a sense, its still the american dream -- you idiots are asleep if you think your vote is going to make any difference.

the difference, sadly, will never be made by casting a vote. it will be in the form of the american people actually being united with one another in bringing a radical change to our government. not with votes. with bullets.

sadly this will never happen, because americans are too unaware of the real reasons for the problems we face in america, and the world for that matter (the international bankers, the money changers.)

we, as a society, have been convinced that our enemy is eachother (fox vs cnn, republican vs democrat, etc) rather than the seeing through the smokescreen into the real causes of our wars.

So they want us to do their job for them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16887272)

So instead of asking them to do what we want, as you would typically do when writing a letter to your local MP, we should look to find compromises between what we want and what they are willing to do, and what we want and what the rest of the country wants?

Sounds like they want us to do their job for them....

The web could revolutionise politics (2, Informative)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887276)

One of the big problems in politics is communicating with and informing the general population. Not only does the Internet itself make it easier than ever to do so, but offshoots like mailing lists, wikis, etc help to organise people and information. We already know these things have the ability to coordinate efforts to build things as complicated as operating systems. Why not apply that experience to other problem domains?

We've already seen the beginnings of this. TheyWorkForYou.com [theyworkforyou.com] publishes and indexes what MPs say in the Houses of Parliament, and notifies people when something they are interested in is discussed - with all the source code for the website available [mysociety.org] and a web service too [theyworkforyou.com] . A few days ago, the same team [mysociety.org] launched an open-source online petition system [pm.gov.uk] backed by the UK government (sign the "fair use" petition [pm.gov.uk] ). The same team also have a number of other projects [mysociety.org] in the same vein, such as mailing lists for MPs [hearfromyourmp.com] . Some MPs now have weblogs [tom-watson.co.uk] . Across the pond similar work is being done in the USA [slashdot.org] .

The real problem is that current MPs mostly grew up without the Internet and haven't gotten to grips with it. This is why MySociety's work to get them on board is so important. For instance, it took me thirty seconds to find out that my MP [theyworkforyou.com] "replied within 2 or 3 weeks to 73% - 96% of messages sent via WriteToThem.com during 2005, according to polling data -- well above average amongst MPs," and I can sign up to get an email every time he speaks in Parliament.

Far from fuelling a crisis in politics, I think the web can be incredibly beneficial. Unfortunately, there is incredible inertia amongst government to adopt new strategies like this.

Re: The Web Fueling A Crisis in Politics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16887278)

Tony Blair is such a fag. He's soo deep in GWB's ass... he's even talking English.

What was the question? ... oh..

YES! Because screaming at the radio or the TV set isn't as funny as having a blog (But that's only relevant if you live in 2006).

Not 'the web' fueling crisis (1)

MECC (8478) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887292)

Politicians being ignorant of voters and technology might be fueling what politicians think is a crisis.

Re:Not 'the web' fueling crisis (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887938)

Oh, it's not that they are ignorant of it, but that they see no clear way to control it, craft it, make it bow to their will. For most of those in power, they have good reason to fear it.

Kind of the whole purpose of the media (2, Insightful)

fatdaveinthesky (783750) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887294)

is to hold the government accountable through criticism, investigation, etc. This is the same complaint people in power have had throughout history. If you've taken a public position, you can expect a great deal of scrutiny, fair or unfair.

Unfortunately, in the US, a relatively recent effort by politicians to organize and fight media oversignt was highly successful. Most people still do believe in an inherent liberal bias in mainstream media, since it was the conservative party that was the promoter of this thinking at the time. (The exact same arguments can and have been raised by liberal interests at various points, but not with as much success. Studies on bias in the media are completely inconclusive, either proving or disproving it, largely depending on who is funding the study. I tend to believe that the media is just inherently anti-government, regardless of party, because of its duties as the fourth estate.)

Nowadays if the media isn't sacrificing objectivity or factual information to provide a "more balanced" product, it is either completely asleep at the wheel, or purposefully distorting information in the other direction...yeah Fox News, I'm looking at you disapprovingly right now. Is it any wonder that there has been a migration of the press to the internet, since there are so many legitimate complaints against the mainstream media these days? This is nothing more than a deliberate (and smart) strategy by government to further shield itself from scrutiny.

Re:Kind of the whole purpose of the media (1)

eglamkowski (631706) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887436)

Why limit yourself to Fox? Remember the New York Times' Jayson Blair? Outright fabricating stories. Or CBS and Dan Rather, "Fake but accurate!"

You can't trust the politicians, but you also can't trust the media. ANY of the media.

Re:Kind of the whole purpose of the media (1)

fatdaveinthesky (783750) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887676)

/concur

There's a real problem as well as a perception problem in the media. Fox News is just an easily recognized example. But while errors in editorial oversight due to laziness or bad judgement are extremely bad, purposeful spinning, skewing, and propagandizing are much worse.

'Propagandizing' may not be a word...

Now That's What You Call Ironic (2, Interesting)

segedunum (883035) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887302)

But he said more needed to be done by the web community in general to encourage people to use the internet to "solve problems" rather than simply abuse politicians or make "incommensurate" demands on them.' 'But rather than work out these dilemmas in partnership with their elected leaders, they were encouraged to regard all politicians as corrupt or mendacious by the media, which he described as 'a conspiracy to maintain the population in a perpetual state of self-righteous rage'.
The reason why people bitch on the internet and in the media about corrupt politicians is because they simply are corrupt liers. When you can't get a single straight answer out of any politician in any debate, and when politicians lie through their teeth about things like the country backing national ID cards (which by every poll and survey, they most certainly don't), what the hell do they expect?! Politicians have this inbuilt idea that if you lie often and consistently enough then people will simply believe it. Looking at the reactions of various media, and people blogging on the internet, people simply won't accept that.

The so-called 'Iraq War', where no one in Britain wanted our soldiers there, no one saw the need to have our soldiers fight and die 'for their country' there and where politicians repeatedly lie bare-faced to not just the country but the families of those who've given their lives. And they wonder why there's rage? Wow. What a closed world those Downing Street thinktanks are.

The rage has absolutely nothing to do with a conspiracy by the media or people on the internet. It has everything to do with politics and democracy simply being less and less relevant to getting anything done or sorted out these days. If they want a right-wing party like the BNP or someone else to come to power then they're going the right way about it.

It's basically blogs which are, generally speaking, hostile and, generally speaking, basically see their job as every day exposing how venal, stupid, mendacious politicians are.
Errrr. Well what are people supposed to do? Paint over the wrongdoing, corruption and utterly silly ideas flowing out of government? Pretend that none of this stuff ever happens? This just sounds like someone who's frustrated that there isn't a controlled media and where they can't control what people write and what they see.

Might I suggest that the government, heaven forbid, does something good that people can blog about?

Whether media was left wing or right wing, the message was always that "leaders are out there to shaft you".
Never was anything truer said. It also matches up to reality as well.

How that is a bad thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16887308)

The high turnout is consistent with the points made in the article.

It is arguable that most voters are voting against politicians rather than for any. It is an old political trick to imply that every vote for a certain politician automatically translates to support for all his policies. How many Americans thought that voting against smarty-pants sigher Al Gore would be interpreted as a desire for a wholesale give-away to the super wealthy and an endless religious war?

Civility and substance (4, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887366)

Abusive politics is, I am afraid, the wave of the future. The folks in the UK just aren't accustomed to it yet.

I remember reading one UK analysis of the midterm US elections in which the commentator remarked on the difference in the level of civility in the US election. He said something to the effect that, "If elections in Britain are a walk in the park, in the US a candidate must carry the One Ring to the Land of Mordor".

It has been long said that freedom of the press belongs to the man who owns one. With the blogosphere, any knuckle scraping blockhead can set himself up as a news source. This pretty much means that whispering campaigns have become shouting campaigns.

There is good and bad in this, but trying to contain the bad is worse than returning to the status quo. And wishing the situation would be other than it is is pointless.

Instead, we should try to make the most of the developments in communication, by giving people something worthwhile to talk about. Let's really make our government transparent.

I'll give you an example of non-transparency. Recently, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction was secretly abolished. The way this was done was that the provisions extending the office were secretly stripped from the authorization bill at the last minute. Thus the Senators who voted for the bill had no idea that it was changed.

When word of this got out, the senate reversed itself on a voice vote. But it raises questions: how many other things are put in and taken out this way? Do we really want anonymous committee staff have ths power?

Why not make a legislation tracking system where every addtion or deletion from a bill is digitally signed by the person doing it. A Senator voting for a bill could call up a list of differences between the bill he is voting on and the bill as it was last week. Then make the entire history of every bill available on the Internet.

The principle I am working from here is this: it is a good thing that people want to talk about politics. What is bad is that they are not talking about substantive things. So: given them something real to talk about. Let them scream and holler, but at least give them the information they need to do so usefullly.

Ridiculous (3, Interesting)

travdaddy (527149) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887380)

Whether media was left wing or right wing, the message was always that 'leaders are out there to shaft you'."

And this is a crisis? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure everyone was thinking this WAY before the internet. The idea that the average person thinks "Politicians are crooked" only since the internet came about is ridiculous! The only difference is that the internet makes that more visible. The same thing with the "incommensurate" demands of Joe Sixpack. Of course we all want to pay no taxes and receive a ton of money in Social Security when we retires, but a lot of people don't understand that it's impossible! But now because of the internet the average person gets heard. It should be obvious that what is on the mind of the average voter is actually a very good thing for a politician to know, even if it is ridiculous demands and distrust of leaders.

internet voters (1)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887390)

Some credit was given to the internet for high voter turnout in this month's election/em

Actually, the credit should go to both sides for their scare-mongering... which somewhat counteracted the negative campaigning by both sides which tends to keep people away from elections. It's a fine balance, but this time around *both* sides managed to convince their base that the fate of modern civilization rested on the voter.

Pot calling kettle? (1)

isotope23 (210590) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887402)

"Whether media was left wing or right wing, the message was always that 'leaders are out there to shaft you'."

Could it be because its true?

Implications: (1)

cultrhetor (961872) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887420)

I recently finished writing an essay about political weblogs for a collection about genre theory and the web, and one of the most important exigencies (reasons for writing) that I found after exhaustive narrative and discourse analysis was the need to be involved. The MSM frustrates political bloggers because it acts as a culturally accepted regulator of public discourse: an editorial board (controlled by a corporation) can deny access to opinions or questions it finds unacceptable. This conflicts with a socially ingrained belief - instilled in citizens of any democratic or republican form of government from early grade school through young adulthood - that each citizen has the right and the privilege to enter into a public debate. Thus, those denied access who feel a need to participate in public life will blog, which they know offers them a chance - however slim - that someone, somewhere, will read their opinion.

They're right to do so. Politicians have, for too long, been shielded by a mainstream media that is unwilling to go too far because the corporations controlling them don't want to be denied access to any future "behind the scenes" interviews or juicy bits of gossip. This has given pols the sense that everyone with a criticism must have a suggestion for an alternative, and must state it in carefully controlled language. Blair's statement is a case in point: you can't criticize us unless you're polite about it and can suggest a reasoned alternative.

This belief is illogical, and stems from the increasing phenomenon of the "punditocracy," that group of reporters who feel that they're experts about everything: public debate involves give and take, and the job of a critic is to examine and report, whether the report is positive or negative is determined by the potentials and effects of the policy. The public does not create policy, it hires politicians (think of the root words) to do so; however, like any employer, the public does have the responsibility to ensure that its employees (politicians) are doing their jobs according to company (public, national) standards. If the employee does poorly, he or she receives criticism: "do your job or we'll find someone else."

Somewhere along the line, though, this idea of politicians as public employees was lost. Again, the corporate media, with its fear that it might lose a scoop, panders to the concept of the powerful (congressman, senator, president, governor, legislator) individual who determines a course of action. Longtime politicians, or even worse, those who were born into political families, often forget that their first responsibility is to those they represent because of this pandering. For too long, there were no alternatives, and this alternative just happens to allow any nutcase with computer access to enter the public sphere, an idea that is completely contrary to long-held political beliefs developed through centuries of one-to-many (newspapers, television, etc.) media technology.

Governments cannot survive the spead of truth (1)

pla (258480) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887458)

the government was making good progress in using the internet to become more open and accountable.

No. Governments have used the internet to make it easier to pay my taxes; to report my neighbors as potential terrorists; to avoid printing costs for things that really should get mailed out.

Governments have conspicuously not used the internet for anything even remotely resembling making themselves more "open and accountable". Simple example - After seeing what happened to Clinton, Bush publically declared that he would not use email as president (Too easy to audit).



the internet could be fueling a crisis in the relationship between politicians and voters.

The internet comes the closest we've ever had to attaining the ideal of truly "free speech", and semi-anonymous at that. Politicians thrive in an environment of public disinformation and fear; The internet basically allows hundreds of millions of fact-checkers to criticize every falsehood uttered by the parasites that "lead" us. Of course that doesn't help the "relationship" between politicians and voters - Because it exposes that relationship as identical to that between predators and their prey.

The Main Problem with the Web and Politics... (2, Insightful)

eno2001 (527078) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887514)

...is that the web makes EVERYONE who buys in feel like they are "informed voters" no matter how misleading and self-serving the web resources they access may be. Higher voter response is NOT a good thing when the majority of the mobilized voters are voting simply based on emotional reactions rather than looking at the real issues and analyzing the impact of a vote for a candidate or issue. On the left you have people reacting to information stating that voting for issue or candidate X is a vote against the environment. On the right you have people reacting to the "OMG teh gheys want to get married and it will make my marriage worthless" propaganda without thinking about how it really affects real people (yes gays are real people). For the third parties, they all have their echo chambers telling them that "this is the year that the third party candidates will take the world by storm"!!! So everyone votes for or against things without really understanding the implications.

Re:The Main Problem with the Web and Politics... (1)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16888032)

"...is that the web makes EVERYONE who buys in feel like they are "informed voters"...

....whether or not you agree with their opinions and conclusions? Perhaps they have the opinion that you aren't an "informed voter."

Welcome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16887548)

I, for one, welcome are new political...
Oh..
Nevermind..

Consensus Opinion without Guidance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16887566)

The very idea that the population (any population) could arrive at a consensus opinion without the involvement and influence of their 'leadership', whether political, corporate, or religious, scares the hierarchy to death.

After all, they would be even more useless than they are now and no longer 'entitled' to their privileges.

Dear Rabble (1)

MojoRilla (591502) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887594)

Dear Rabble,

All you do is attack the [government|crown]! Instead of working with officials, you use [the internet|pamphlets [wikipedia.org] ] to anonymously attack the government. By [blogging|writing anonymous pamphlets] you are acting like teenagers. [Blogging|Anonymous pamphles] are not mature discourse!

Signed,

Your patronizing British Government

We shouldn't let the jerks off the hook, but... (2, Insightful)

udamahan (468338) | more than 7 years ago | (#16887596)

...I think there is something to learn from Mr. Taylor's comments. Squeaky wheel syndrome: its easy to focus on what's not working and forget about the things that do.

Roads get paved, mail magically shows up, and this mysterious place called the library buys books so we don't have to. If something unjust happens to us, there is generally a method of recourse.

How much of these services we need can be debated, but its pretty great in general.

Elected officials definitely seem like the worst offenders, and something needs to change, I agree. But there's a whole underbelly of people in government who take their job fairly seriously and do a lot of really beneficial things, all to our benefit.

If the glove fits! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16887716)

Does this pass the duck test?

rgds
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