Saturday, February 16, 2008

Technology vs. Machines 2008

Is it me or is our electoral process getting tighter and tighter as technology continues to imbue the process? First, we had 2000 - the first online presidential election, and that went down to Florida. Next, we had 2004, with the Dean phenomena and a result that went down to Ohio. And now we have Clinton v. Obama.

Obama's candidacy is nothing if not unique. Have we had a candidate with less federal or executive experience be the nominee of a major party? Even Kennedy had 6 years in the House, and 8 in the Senate before 1960. Yet, Obama continues to succeed, much in part to his innovative use of technology.

I don't necessarily see this as a counterpoint to his candidacy. I am a big believer that direct experience is NOT necessarily a predictor of future success. It comes down to how successful is the candidate in the environments they have been in before. Context can be learned.

What I do see is that technology is enabling a new kind of politics, one where the traditional political machine is no longer as powerful. Issues, ideas and vision are rising to the top, past the traditional trajectory the hierarchical machine spews out.

In the 2000 and 2004 elections, the machine won. The Republican army was amazing if not exquisite in their execution. Despite some of the worst approval ratings in modern times, the Bush machine was able to secure re-election.

Are we at the tipping point, where technology propels the non-traditional past the machine? We shall see...

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