A Voice of Reason: Sane Views for a Crazy World

March 21, 2007

YouTube Politics More Democracy or Demagoguery

As all are aware the famous Apple 1984 odd has been touched up to show Sen. Clinton addressing an audience, and a woman hurling the hammer against the image of totalitarianism.  The “O” shows up afterwards.  Over one million have already viewed this clip.  This is truly an impressive work, and may have an impact upon the electoral process.  We also know  that YouTube may have impacted on the defeat of George Allen in the Virginia Senatorial race.  The ability of YouTube to strike suddenly and with profound impact into the voting process without regulation and with the implicit ability of operatives of poliltical candidates as well as John and Jane Q. Citizen to have an unfettered voice adds a dynamic to this an to every political campaign which will be run in the future.  Although Congress passed campaign finance reform, which was targetted to curtail some of the fringe activity and advertisement, other groups worked within the poorly constructed legislation, which may have had dubious policy advantage.  Here, two conflicting interests free speech and regulation of PAC money in elections – which was seen as an undemocratic principle – may have been at odds.  However, the creativity of special interest groups and of free speech knows few bounds.

While there is a host of theories as to “who is behind this ad”, the question that remains is this phenomenon good for the process of elections.  While the part of me that wants to see as many views out there as possible, does it serve society well when views which are fictitious, which currently has some restrictions placed upon them by CFR legislation, are promoted wholesale.  Certainly this does give voice to some ideas which may be repugnant.

Perhaps the bottom line is that the holders of a democracy are accountable for the leadership of a democracy.  If people are ignorant enough to buy into propaganda which distorts focus from serious issues, perhaps as a nation, we deserve what we get.  Al Smith, a great reformer in American politics, and the real author of the New Deal, often said, “The cure for the ills of democracy is more democracy”.  This process, with all of its potential for abuse does represent that philosophy.  It is up to the citizens to be good consumers, and to choose whether they buy into what is being sold.

Then again, whoever said that intelligence and discretion were part and parcel of good citizenship.


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