Monday, July 23, 2007
You Tube + Politics
To say that I was skeptical of tonight's debate format would be an understatement. My concerns were twofold. On one hand I was anxious that the debate would be an excuse for indignant, arrogant, and inarticulate citizens to get involved in the political world simply because they could rather than because they should (elitism much?). On the other, I wasn't convinced the debate would be all that different. Sure, the questions were coming from YouTube but the debate was still being run by the mainstream media. CNN was picking the questions they would air. They were doing the follow up questions. The candidates were still running for office. The American people were still only half listening. I believe in the power of the internet. I believe it is starting to change politics. I believe YouTube is starting to change politics. But I more believe it is changing accountability. Changing the theatre of campaigning. I don't necessarily believe it is changing the process of politics. Not yet anyway. It contributes to the overall change we are seeing (raising more money, newer demographics paying attention and maybe voting) but YouTube has not revolutionized the process. It is still controlled by special interest. It is still a game. It is still played only by certain people.

But to say that I enjoyed tonight's debate would be an understatement. I. LOVED. IT. Sure, there were a few uncomfortable questions by people who made me shake my head. Anderson Cooper had some rough moments. But overall, I did see a difference in this debate. First, more domestic questions. THANK GOD. I think at this point we get the candidates' Iraq position. We get they want more diplomacy and less war. We get they think we are the embarrassment in the international community. WE GET IT. What we don't get a lot of is a conversation about education. We don't get conversations middle America. And we don't get clash. Tonight was a start on all of those things. I enjoy the united we stand front. But I also like to see Edwards and Clinton battle out the specifics of their ideas. [SIDENOTE] How great was Clinton's correct assertion that it is a good day when politicians are addressing women's issues?! Right on. I don't agree with how everyone is addressing them but at least they know they're there.

A few specific thoughts:

Who did the best? Clinton. For sure. She was smart, articulate, gracious and even a little likable. I think she has shown a large improvement. I guess it is easy to win, however, when you are already winning. I am not a Clinton supporter. I walked away liking her a little bit more tonight.

Worst? Goes without saying--Gravel. GET HIM OFF THE STAGE. The only thing he does is make the other candidates look less crazy to Republican voters. He is not a democrat (take your flat tax and shove it...). He is polarizing. He is embarrassing. He does not want a Democratic victory in 08. I was angry tonight. If he wants to start a conversation, he should start a blog. Maybe he would get more questions if he stopped shouting his answers. He looked like a madman.

Most Improved? Richardson. He started to trail off at the end and gets a little long-winded but I loved his answer on gay marriage. Great talking points in that answer..."I'll go after what we can get..." His strength lies in selling the optimism and pragmatism of policies. But he has a long, long way to go.

Best video? Edwards. Loved it. It was playful yet poignant. WHAT. THE. HELL. WERE DODD'S PEOPLE THINKING?!

What I wish they would keep up even when the format goes back to the old way? The humor. Sure, at times it was forced. But by far, this was the most enjoyable debate for viewers. The candidates all seemed confident and proud. Confident and proud.

My unsolicited advice? If I see another "show of hands" question in another debate, I will kick the television. STOP IT. We are not engaged in some elementary school election. Not only that but Kucinich looked especially ridiculous and it just isn't fair to him.

Obama needs to get rid of the word "look" from his debate vocabulary. We don't need a lecture, Obama. We need a concise message.

Never. Ever. Pull out a cell phone during a debate. NEVER.

The whole 'I'm poorer than you' bit? Offensive.

If you'd like some really interesting and complete commentary on the YouTube debates and public dialogue, head over to

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Blogger binerman said...

Thanks for the post, I was working durring the debate and haven't seen it yet, but I think you hit on some of the same concerns I had and I appreciate your thoughts here. One question though on your first paragraph, isn't accountability a process? And more specifically, isn't accountability part of the "process of politics"? Not sure if I'm just playing semantics here, but I think a change in accountability does necessitate a change of more broad range than you seem to say.

Oh, and hi, hope all is well, miss you and all that ;o)

Blogger kristen said...

HI! I miss you, too!

Good points...I recognize there is tension there. It is hard to articulate my love and doubt of the internet's power. I think that accountablity and raising money are part of the entire political process. For sure. But I think that may be happening for other reasons as well. So while I think there are changes that can be linked to the internet and youtube, I don't think these are proof that youtube is revolutionazing politics.

Does that make sense. Surely blogs and youtube to a lesser extent are playing a part in the political change we are seeing but i'm not sure to go as far as to say they are changing the process.

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