Here's a thought: everyone can tell you that JFK was the first TV-elected president. Without those debates and Nixon looking like shit while Kennedy shone like a god-child, it would have been a very different election. That was back when television was our symbol of progress. Today, the use of TV trickery has been mastered to its utmost by the Bush administration, but there's a new thing brewing. The TV is on it's way out, and the net is on it's way in.
The growing adoption of personal publishing via the internet is leading to a substantial shift in how people make decisions. Bullshit it harder to pass off, whether you're a corporation trying to cook the books or a politician trying to pull a fast one. Too many people are watching, pointing out the man behind the curtain. Mark my words, the net is going to have as much impact on American politics as TV did, and it should be a very good thing. I don't know how this election will go -- though since my man Howard Dean is the internet candidate, I hope this is the year the net breaks through -- but when today's teenage bloggers and community-makers are taking up the reins of state, the political landscape will be vastly different than it is today.
Hopefully the bi-directional and participatory nature of the internet will have an invigorating effect on civic life. Hopefully the core tennants of transparency, open-source and best-practice standards will penetrate the collective consciousness, replacing the current paradigm of stagecraft, chicanery and celebrity-worship. Hopefully we're going to see a positive, global, people-centric information revolution and not a feudal, big brother info-lockdown in the future. A lot of that depends on which direction this country is led over the next decade. Total information awareness or total information freedom. It's also about the soul of the political process: when you've consistantly got less than 60% voter turnout, democracy is ailing as a viable system.
There's a strong sense of purpose about these things.
Serindipity! As I post this, I find my original internet role-model Justin Hall is also piqued by Dean. Something big is going to happen. Radiohead says it in the best song on their new album, so at some point the kids are going to believe. "We don't want a monster taking over." Indeed.