Friday, June 29, 2007

Gotcha! Continued

Via e-mail, Josh Levy of techPresident expresses reservations about my proposal (which I submitted to tP) that politicians use the Internet to catch their opponents in gotcha moments, like reversing or whitewashing their positions.

Josh likens this to “a version of politics that we’re hoping the Web—by giving the voters more control of the political process—will help undo.” He adds, “[W]ithout sacrificing the open Web[,] there appears little we can do to stop it.”

Not wanting to promote “gotcha-ism” is perfectly understandable—and I wholeheartedly share Josh’s hope for less politics-as-usual—but I think the idea that the Internet will “undo” opposition research is like asking rain not to fall.

In his latest column, Tom Friedman observes that the Web’s empowerment of every individual to self-publish puts us all ill at ease, constantly on a possible stage. Unfortunately, the “good” empowerment (say, making government spending more transparent, a la last year’s Coburn-Obama bill) cannot be separated from the “bad.”

Furthermore, while my proposal is admittedly akin to bottom-feeding, I don’t think it constitutes gaming the system. In fact, it behooves candidates today to take advantage of every opportunity the Internet provides—whether it’s bringing together one’s supporters (a la Ron Paul), introducing politics to the apolitical (Obama), or compiling oppo (Richardson’s rival).