Thursday, September 16, 2010

Dumbing Down the Democracy Dialog

As the election season heats up the Tea Party has now cleverly taken a page from the online media playbook of and started their own propaganda garbage "network". Called "TeaPartyHD", it's filled with the same kind of stuff we see from MoveOn - irrational pieces designed to sway the gullible and ignorant (that would be ... many of us) using scare tactics and distortions rather than reasoned discourse.

There's nothing really new in that approach to politics, but I'm quickly coming to the conclusion that the internet has diminished rather than enhanced the political dialog. The medium isn't really to blame here - if we were an enlighted bunch we could have spirited discussions with candidates going on 24/7, with transcripts and summaries and a huge level of interaction with real people.

But, alas, we're not that kind of creature. So the most effective use of media dollars is to create online networks to spread negativity and distortions about your opponents, yet keep an arms length from the candidates so they can deny involvement in the junk.

Free speech is a wonderful benefit but by paying attention to the garbage we really diminish ourselves and the process. I don't expect that to change, but if you pay attention to this nonsense OR help spread it, you should at least recognize that we are degrading our democracy with this approach. Strategically it works, so I can't suggest either side would be wise not to continue the distortions and negative campaigning, but there may be compromises where we can start to address real issues somewhere in the mix.