Thursday, September 19, 2002




Political Activism:

The Impact of the Internet

& Digital Communications

on the

Political Activities of American Citizens,

as of Summer 2002.

By Halperin

August 25, 2002

e-mail :



Chapter One

Definition of Terms.


Chapter Two

Digital Age Good or Digital Age Bad?


Chapter Three

An Overview of The Political Activities of Americans in Cyberspace as of Summer 2002.


Chapter Four
Cyber-Lobbying on the National Level

in the USA as of 2002.


Chapter Five
Rally Organizing Online.


Chapter 6

Political Information Portals. [PIPs]


Chapter 7



Chapter 8


Chapter 9

The Impeachment of Bill Clinton on the Web.


Chapter 10:

Why Electronic-Democracy Won’t Fly in the USA.


Chapter 11:



*121 ENDNOTES (most with URL Links)*



A Definition of Terms

The use of the Internet and other Digital Communication Devices[1] in the spheres government, political communication and political activism is so new that a clear definition of terms and lingo has yet to fully emerge. Techno-Politics, Electronic-Democracy, E-Government, E-Governance, Cyber-Politics, Cyber-Activism, Cyber-Citizen (or Net-izen), Hacktivist [2] (for politically active hackers) and several other terms are all in use. Including Cyber-Terrorism. All these phrases come with and without hyphens. To be consistent I choose hyphens. There has also arisen the use of the letters ICT for Information and Communication Technology [3] ICT being all digital media devices and services through the Internet, PDA's, cellphones, e-mail pagers, etc.

To this writers knowledge this is the first attempt to define this lexicon, while also highlighting the current use in governmental, academic and activist lingo. In addition to the above-mentioned terms, I found for this project the need to create and formalize a few of my own. Most notably creating PIPs for Political Information Portals. And formally breaking Techno-Politics into Techno-Electioneering and Techno-Lobbying for when any variety of digital and analog media is in use to influence a citizen vote or to further a legislative cause. And it of course follows that we divide Cyber-Politics into Cyber-Electioneering and Cyber-Lobbying in order to describe political activities exclusively within the Internet medium.[4]

I will offer these and some other general definitions here in this chapter to get us started and as more techno-cyber-terms surface during the course of later chapters I believe their definitions will be clear from the context in which they are used.

Techno-Politics is the study of how the evolution of technology— and especially communication technology--- has impacted politics and government from global to local. [5]

Electronic-Democracy (E-democracy) is when citizens would directly decide on public policy via live Internet voting, after cyber-public debate.

Cyber-Politics is what citizens, organizations and political campaigns are doing on the Internet to influence electoral, legislative and administrative political decisions. How are citizens being activated by the Internet medium; and who is doing the activating.

As noted we further divide cyber-politics into cyber-electioneering, which would concern how election campaigns are using the Internet; and cyber-lobbying is how special interest groups use cyber-space to aid their causes.

E-government and E-governance. There is some disagreement as to the definition of terms E-government and E-governance. I am not going to expound on this dispute in this paper [6] as this project is about citizen activism on the Internet, while E-governing is about how government uses the Internet. However the terms are relevant to our topic and will get some incidental use so I have resolved the dispute over the definitions as follows:

Electronic-Government is how a government sets up any Internet infrastructure and then uses that infrastructure to provide services and information[7] to citizens, alien residents and even tourists.

Electronic-Governance is how a government uses the Internet in expressing political power over its citizens and other people within its borders. Cyber-Law-Enforcement [8], anti-terrorist measures and the regulation of Internet access in public libraries, are the current E-Governance issues under debate in many if not all democracies. In most dictatorships, E-governance is how a government may censor or restrict the dissemination of political viewpoints, news and organizing information over the Internet and other communication technologies.


Techno-Politics ( Technopolitics).

Techno-Politics encompasses the broadest spectrum of political activity and public policy making that is a product of interaction between the Technological and Political spheres. Roger Williams, a professor of Political Science at the University of Vermont, attributes the first use of the word “Techno-Politics” to the author (of “Future Shock”) Alvin Tofler in 1984.[9] Williams provides the following quote from Tofler:

"Western Europe, like America and Japan, is entering the age

of technopolitics….. every major issue facing government today - from nuclear strategy to unemployment, from environment to human rights, from energy policy to equality - is deeply affected by technological change.” [10]

In 2002 Tofler has proven right. The Internet and other digital communication media in addition to being political tools of action; are also prevalent issues of debate in the governments of most nations. Techno-Political issues of national security, personal privacy, ---(both in cyber-space and public space[11] ) -- cyber-pornography, cyber-gambling, cyber-terrorism, hacking, deep-linking° censorship, and the regulation of junk commercial e-mail (better known as spam) , have all moved to the forefront of public policy decision making.

° Deep –Linking

Deep-Linking is what we are doing in many of the endnote embedded hot-links ----(or " hot-linked URLs" in techno-lingo)--- of this paper.[12] These links usually by-pass the front homepage of Internet News websites and other informational web domains. The front page of a website is often a prime advertising space. So it follows that many commercial news-sites and portals [13] want to prevent deep-linking and to instead redirect any traffic linked to their web domain first to their advertisement filled homepage.

Cyber-activists believe the right to deep-link is essential for the World Wide Web to be a truly free place for the exchange of information. Commercial Internet portals believe their copyrights give them the right to control access to their deep-linked information.[14] The issue of deep-linking is a very hot topic now in Europe and is being closely watched by concerned parties in the USA. In the endnote of this sentence there is a brief excerpt from a Associated Press news article (via on an important July 2002 Danish court case ruling against commercial to commercial deep-linking; with the deep-link citation directly to the article at the end of the quote. [15] But who knows maybe you will get the MSNBC homepage.

(To be fair to both sides of this dispute, in the endnotes here ----when containing a reference from a commercial website------ I have (usually) included both the homepage link and the deep-linked reference page.[16] I hope these endnote deep-links ---[about 100 of them, out of a total 121 endnotes of this project]---- serve a as helpful portal the those who want to research the broad and dynamic sphere of Techno-Politics and any or all of its sub-disciplines mentioned in this work. There have arisen several free (!) services to aide in finding articles on the Internet when the deep-linked URL reference is no longer active. [17] @ , is an incredibly useful site. And of course there is also , where they are working hard to permanently cache every web-page that has ever existed during the brief history of the Internet. All kudos these truly great web portals for their deep-linking and caching resources.)


The Techno-Political-Digital-Age at barely a decade old is still very much in its early infancy. Like first time parents, global and national political policy makers are cautiously raising this baby and formulating their policies without the benefit similar experience. In the United States the depth of both the cultural impact and the massive financial scope of the ongoing Microsoft anti-trust case highlights how powerfully and deeply ingrained Techno-Political affairs have become in government, corporate, academic and personal operations, and how difficult the "correct" public policy can be to create. Since September 11, 2001 the Techno-Political issue of personal privacy has become the newest test of constitutional civil liberties in the United States and Europe.[18] How much privacy should one be expected give up for the right to enter cyber-space in now a major issue of E-Governance policy. For the Internet to be a democratizing tool, access to it and the information on it must be unfettered. Already in American workplaces and college libraries use of the Internet is closely monitored and regulated. The issue of Internet use in American public libraries made major news this past May 2002 when a federal court struck down the Children's Internet Protection Act.[19] The three branches of the American government have just started sorting out exactly what rights to privacy citizens retain in cyberspace ----(and public space too in light of new surveillance technologies)---- during use in work, school and home. The E-Governance topic of cyber-privacy is sure to be a focus of public and legal debate for generations to come, much in the same way other privacy issues have been throughout American History. Just as the American Courts have had to continually re-address search & seizure and privacy laws as new technologies arise, so too will the issue of Cyber-Privacy will become a major discipline of law, both in America and around the globe.

In China, Cuba, Vietnam and other dictatorships, E-Governance control of the Internet is at the forefront, with totalitarian governments expending much time and energy in seeking to contain the potential subversive effects of the digital communication and Internet age.[20] [21] To ban the Internet completely is impractical for dictatorships if they want their oppressed citizenship to be able to compete in the globalized world economy. So for dictatorships the only authoritarian option is to attempt control and stifle political cyber-dialogues the best they can without curtailing economic activity. Or in other words to use their powers of E-Governance in order to constrain the citizen use of Cyber-Activism.

It is anybody’s guess as to whether the Globalized Digital Age of Techno-Politics will be a blessing or a curse, and for whom. Will democracies grow stronger and dictatorships weaker? Or will democracies --- especially in the light of terrorist threats---- grow more oppressive, using the technological tools of the political digital age to monitor citizen activity with greater precision than ever before possible.[22] Or maybe the Techno-Political Digital Age will just be a big sum zero impact with the global political and economic status quo unfazed. (In the next chapter of this paper we will explore these questions within the sphere of American politics.)

An excellent overview of the academic side of Techno-Politics is posted on the homepage of UCLA Professor Douglas Kellner in an essay entitled Intellectuals, the New Public Spheres, and Techno-Politics. [23] (Yes, I know that is a very long definition of Techno-Politics, but it is a very big, basic and omnipresent topic in the industrialized world and its overview serves as a good introduction to our paper here on the topic Cyber-Political Actives of American citizens.)

Cyber-Politics (or Cyberpolitics).

Cyber-Politics covers the realm of the Internet as an issue lobbying, electoral campaigning or political fundraising tool, making it a sub-discipline of Techno-Politics.

From major corporations to local community groups and from left-wing anti-globalization anarchists to right wing neo-nazis, the Internet is being used as a part of an overall organizing and information dissemination strategy. A Cyber-citizen (or Netizen /Net-izen) is anyone who goes online. A Cyber-Activist (or e-activist / net-activist [24]) is someone who takes political action via the Internet either through cyber-lobbying or cyber-electioneering.[25] The Techno-Cyber-Political activities of American citizens as of 2002 is the main topic for the remainder of this paper.


Chapter Two

Is the Digital Age Good

or is the Digital Age Bad

for American Democracy?

Part A: Overview and statistics.

The Internet explosion began in 1995 with the introduction of Microsoft Corporation’s Windows 95, and its Internet Explorer. Before this historical watershed the Internet was a sparsely populated domain composed mainly of academics, technophiles and even some political activists.[26] World-wide in December 1995 there were about 16 million users of the Internet [27] out of a global population of over 4.5 billion (~.0036 %). Just 7 years later in December 2001 a Neilson/NetRatings survey of the largest 22 industrial nations shows at least 422.4 million Earthlings to be online,[28] (nearly 10% of the world population). About 140 million of these users are in the United States, with 54% of the total American population connecting to the web [29] at home, work or school.

The rapid diffusion of the Internet and other digital communication devices compared to the technological advances of other eras is staggering. Telegraph, telephones, radio, television and faxing, all spread into the masses at much slower paces. In 1930, United States census figures found the telephone was in only 40% of American households[30], this more than four decades after its invention.[31]

The Digital Age has brought us the Internet, cell-phones, personal digital assistants [PDA’s] and an array of other wireless communication devices, which together have fundamentally changed the way much of the human race communicates. Today it is common to see a people fully hooked-up ---with cellphone, e-mail pager, and wireless laptop computer--- communicating away while on an Amtrak train or in a local Starbucks. [32] It all makes (comic-book detective) Dick Tracy’s telephone-wristwatch look primitive by comparison. We may not have closed the last millennium with colonies on the moon (as many predicted during the space race of the 1960’s), but with the new century the Digital Age allows people instant communication to someone (or some group), through any various means portable media, at will, anytime, anywhere. (Of course as long as the person/people on the other end has a compatible device.[33]) And all this communicating can be accomplished in volume at an affordable cost. Has this not always been the “holy grail” of the techno-communications industry since early human history? [34]

Armed simply with laptop computer a person can simultaneously surf the web, talk on the phone ---(as many modern computers have a telephone built in)--- send hundreds of faxes, e-mail thousands (--if not millions--) and do it all without leaving the bed of a hotel room. E-mail has become the cheapest and easiest way ever to send mass communication with the lowest going rate for executing one million e-mails at only $200,[35] making e-mail the first tool of mass communication that is readily and cheaply accessible to the masses. Clearly the media of the Internet and Digital Communications has enormous potential as both a means of political communication and a source of political power and influence. The question is: How will this potential be realized?


PART B: Modern American Politics and Communication Technology.

Communication is at the core of all political activity and the history of modern communication technology closely parallels the history of modern American politics. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s national radio broadcasts (---the “fireside chats”---) during the depths of the depression, and the televised Kennedy-Nixon debates during the 1960 presidential election, are mileposts in Techno-Political Communication history. The technological advances in the media of communication –--in this case radio and television— enabled the American populace to experience a more intimate experience with a politician than ever before possible. During the 1980’s President Reagan became dubbed “The Great Communicator” for his administration’s masterful use of the television medium, both get him elected and keep him in office. (Despite the serious crimes of the Iran-Contra affair I might add.)

Successful politicians rely very heavily on their communication infrastructure. An elected official (or aspiring candidate) is in constant communication with constituents, staff, colleagues and the news media. Often all a politician does produce is communication; using his office as a soapbox more than to produce substantial legislation and policy. With the Internet a politician does not have to rely on the third-party media of television or radio, which are incurred at great expense and also contain time limits. So one would think elected officials and hopefuls would jump at the chance to use this new Internet medium, but as we will see in chapter 7 on Cyber-Electioneering, Internet use by both Congress-members seeking re-election and aspiring candidates working to unseat them, is not as wide-spread as one might expect.


Fifty years from now will the discussions in political science classes be: Why has the Digital Age and the Internet failed to produce any great change in Democracy?

Or: Why was it watershed for better Democracy in the United States (and/or other nations)? [36]

There are also those who assert that Democracy will loose out ---and is loosing out--- to the Globalization of the Government and Corporate Techno-Powers.[37] Seeing the distribution of academic and political information, news and views on the Web as dominated by a few mega-corporations[38] some believe the question political-science students will be asked on exams is: “Why and how has the Internet changed democracy for the worst?”

Richard Davis, a Professor of Political Science at Brigham Young University, in his book The Web of Politics rightly points out that “each innovation in mass communications” instead of creating new power centers, has simply reinforced the existing Government and media power structures.[39] Davis highlights how the hope of television as a positive force of democratization was torpedoed by the enactment of the of the Equal Time Provision (ETP) by Congress during the 1950’s.[40] Because the ETP required broadcasters to give “equal access” for free time, but not equal access for paid time, broadcasters limited the amount of free time they allowed to be accessed. With their money Republican and Democratic campaigns could easily buy political advertisements, but smaller third-parties who generally lack substantial funds became all but locked out of television till today.[41] Even high profile third-party candidates such as Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader could not directly debate with Democrat Al Gore and Republican George Bush during the 2000 presidential election, nor could they get their campaigns the broadcast publicity needed to make a serious run. The ETP instead of adding to the diversity of public discourse has just galvanized the status quo with American television politics becoming dominated by Democrats and Republicans.

A similar situation is developing with the Internet. Democrats and Republicans are co-opting the Internet into an overall political strategy and are doing with the Web as they did with television in dominating the election campaign dialogue of the medium. Cyber-space has of yet to cause a mushrooming of alternative political parties and candidates in the United States. (As we shall see later in chapter 7 on Cyber-Electioneering, Jesse Ventura’s election as Governor of Minnesota in 1998 is the first and only major Internet influenced electoral victory by a "third party." However, Jesse turned out to be a governing flop. Coincidence? Probably not. Stay tuned.)

Nor have the sources of mass news consumption been changed by the Internet age. The most trafficked Internet news sites are dominated by the same broadcast and print media giants that have ruled the airwaves and news-stands for the past generation. According to Jupiter Media Metrix [42] a website ratings group, the September 2001 ratings of Internet news sites showed the top 10 to be:





5] New York

6] Washington

7] USA

8] (which is a division MSNBC)


10] Los Angles

So as of 2002 the Digital Internet Age has not produced any major change in the sources of news and views nor a diversification of electoral and political issue discourse in the Untied States, and as we shall see in subsequent chapters, it does not at all seem poised to do so anytime in the near future. So as to our question as to whether the Digital Age is good or bad for American democracy; it as of now seems to be a big sum zero impact and may be even leaning towards the negative.

The remainder of this paper will deal with the particulars of the political activities of Americans via the Internet and digital communications and (hopefully) we will shed some light on why the status quo of political power has not changed because of the Digital Age.



An Overview of The Political Activities of

Americans in Cyberspace as of Summer 2002


How has the rise of the Internet and Digital Communications devices [43] impacted or even fundamentally changed the political activities of American citizens on the eve of the Fall 2002 congressional elections? And how have they not? In the remaining chapters we will be exploring to what degree the Internet & Digital media has become a tactical resource of special interest lobbies and election campaigns, and whether a Techno-Cyber-advantage translates into legislative and electoral victories. We will also be looking for any new or fundamentally reshaped political activities that are occurring because of Digital & Internet Communications (i.e. activities that could only be facilitated through these media).

Professors Hill and Hughes in their book Cyberpolitics correctly argue that the Internet is “merely an extension of the fax machine, the telephone, the postal system and cable television in being a medium of political communications.” [44] For nearly a decade Internet and Digital technologies have been the hot new toy in the world of electioneering and issue lobbying. Whether they will ever become a serious and indispensable tool of election and issue campaigning is our topic here.

No aspiring President, Senator or Congressman can hope to run a successful campaign without incorporating traditional advertising strategies within television, radio, direct-mail and newsprint media. As well, special interest groups who fail to incorporate these non-digital traditional means into their campaigns will find their cause crippled. While the use of Internet and other digital-technologies for election campaigning and issue lobbying is growing, as we will see through out this paper, to say it has become an indispensable tool in 2002 would be a serious overstatement.

With 54% of the total American population connecting to the web at home or at work [45] there are still 44% who are not reachable via the Internet. Though the Internet has proven to be a cheap way to inform a small or large number of people in a compressed time, the overall effectiveness of long-term Cyber-Lobbying and Cyber-Electioneering has yet to be proven as valuable as the traditional means of political organizing. Telephone banks, direct mail, going door-to-door and the canvassing of highly trafficked public places still rule as the fundamental tools of electioneering and lobbying in 2002 [46] because the Internet has yet to deeply penetrate the lower income and less educated sectors of American society. Until the Internet is as ubiquitous as the mailbox, telephone and television, it’s power as a political weapon is severely limited.

While there has evolved in the past decade a segment of the American population who will use their Internet connections for political means, it is by no means a major movement. A survey by the Democracy Online Project [47] showed 35% of Americans gathered or exchanged political information on the Internet during the 2000 election season, up from 25 % who did so in 1998.[48] However, much of this activity was causal, like sending jokes about candidates by e-mail.[49]

Maybe the most important fact about the cyber-citizen-activist is that they tend to be wealthier, white and Republican according to a study by Pew Internet and American Life. [50] A post-2000 election study by Pew found that 29% of Republicans sent or received e-mail about a political candidate during the election season. Meanwhile Democrats were significantly less active with only 20% exchanging candidate e-mail. As far as giving political money online, Republicans again outscored Democrats; 6% to 3%. [51]

Of course, a whole Techno-Political industry has arisen in the past decade, and there are now companies that will integrate the Internet and digital technologies into your run for office, issue lobby, or fundraising quota campaign.[52] In California, the Oakland based Ruckus Society [53] organized a “Tech ToolBox Action Camp” [54] during the summer of 2002 to train activists for the Techno-Political age,[55] and the AFL-CIO organized an Online Labour Day Festival in September of 2001. [56]

So clearly there are people and organizations in the USA that see the Internet having the potential to increase both their political power and political bank accounts. Or at the very least as a necessary tool to be utilized to prevent the loss of power, because if you don't, the other guys will use the Internet to trump you. In other words, there is in the Untied States a Techno-Cyber-Political arms race developing among various power centers to maintain a balance of power. It is not so much that the Internet is changing politics, but that the Internet is becoming part of American Politics, just as radio and then television did before.

The Five Main Categories of Cyber-Political Activities in the USA

As of 2002, election campaigns and activist organizations of all sizes and political persuasions are making the Internet and Wireless Communication Devices a part of their organizing and lobbying arsenals in five primary ways. I briefly summarize them here, and they will be explored more in following chapters.

1. Cyber-Lobbying: E-Letter, E-petition and E-mail Lobby Campaigns.[57] The dynamics of congressional politics, citizen activism, and interest lobbying has undergone some (but not significant) change due to the growth of the Internet. Grass-root e-mail campaigns are now augmenting the mass pre-written letters and postcards, which emerged as the lobbying campaign staples of the past generation. But as we will see, lobbying campaigns based on hand-written letters still have the greatest impact.

2. Rally Organizing Online. The Internet, cellphones and other wireless communication devices have completely changed the traditional logistics of organizing people for rallies, marches and other demonstrations. We shall see later in chapter 5 how event organizing in the digital age is almost reads like political science fiction, with the logistics so fully reshaped ---(forever)--- that it qualifies a semi-pure Internet activity. (It is not pure as people did organize before the Internet.)

3. Political Information Portals (PIPS). The web site, operated by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) will be our focus in Chapter 6. This relatively small nonprofit organization was at the epicenter of this year’s $185 billion 2002 Farm Bill debate. EWG was highlighted in several major news articles [58] as the first such website to carry serious political muscle in becoming the information clearing house concerning a weighty piece of legislation. PIPS are an example a pure Internet medium as the Internet provided the only forum for doing what EWG accomplished. Through the EWG website, politicians, special interest groups, citizen activists, and journalists following the Farm Bill were all able to access information, research issues, and then repackage and redistribute information to suit their needs. (Hundreds --if not thousands-- of PIPs are currently on the World Wide Web covering most any issue one can think of or invent.)

4. Cyber-Electioneering: As we will see in the 2000 American congressional elections, candidate websites were a factor in some races. As mentioned above a Techno-Political “arms race” is playing out in the upcoming 2002 congressional elections. However, it is not as widespread as one might expect.

5. Cyber-Fundraising : Most every electoral and issue lobby web site and e-mail asks for money. But they do not seem to be getting it. During the course or the 2000 election season the Democracy Online Project [59] found only 1% of Americans gave money via the Internet to a political cause.[60] (We will not be exploring this topic in depth, because as we see from the previous statistic, cyber-fundraising is not really a significant political activity. Though there have been a few exceptions and they will get some incidental mention as part of other topics.)



Cyber- Lobbying on the

National Level as of 2002

The Congress Online Project [61] (COP) has been compiling statistics on the cyber side of congressional lobbying since 1998 documenting a steep rise in e-mails sent to Capital Hill. COP found that 117 million e-mails where send to Congress in 2001.[62] Up from 48 million in 2000 and 20 million in 1998.[63] Have advocacy groups found greater results because of "e-mail your elected representative" campaigns? It is clear that the impact of e-mail based Cyber-Lobbying is open to debate. Many activist organizations claim major victories because of the cyber-campaigns they have organized, but as we shall see here, many experts in the field and even the organizing organizations themselves admit to a limited if even negligible impact of e-mail lobby campaigns. And some even argue (including this writer), that Cyber-Lobbying has a negative impact on a cause.

First an example of victory claims via an e-mail I received as a 2001 year-end-review from the Environmental Defense Action Network,[64] a leading national environmental organization.


AND UPDATES: Environmental Defense Action Network

activists like you were very active in 2001. In a year marked by the tragic events of September 11, we also can share some notable successes in our efforts to take action online to protect the environment. Together, we now reach nearly 150,000 e-mail activists who sent nearly 1 million pro-environment messages last year.

[Other] highlights in 2001 include:

Arctic Refuge Wins Reprieve...For Now ! Last year, 200,000 messages from e-mail activists helped ensure that the Bush Administration and special interests were unsuccessful in pushing a bad energy bill…”[65]

Another cyber-battle happened in 2001 with John Ashcroft’s nomination to be U.S. Attorney General, and was marked by an anti-Ashcroft website developed by People For the American Way [PFAW].[66] During the Ashcroft nomination debate one million people visited the PFAW website with 130,000 of them signing an online petition against the Ashcroft nomination.[67] Of the campaign, cyber-political journalist Jim Buie writes:

While the rapid-fire mobilization wasn't enough to defeat Ashcroft, it did focus attention on the intense expression of opposition among progressive activists and may have helped convince or reinforce some of the 43 Democratic Senators who voted to oppose the nomination.”[68]

But the point of a political campaign is to win, and not to just “convince or reinforce” your loosing Senate supporters. Here is a core problem of cyber-lobbying. If the PFAW organized a campaign that generated 130,000 personalized handwritten letters instead of a mass-signed e-petition, it almost certainly would have produced better results or even victory for their cause to defeat the Ashcroft nomination.

Larry Neal, deputy chief of staff for Senator Phil Gramm (Republican-Texas), in response to a New York Times reporter on the impact of e-mail lobby campaigns stated:

"The communication that Sen. Gramm values most certainly does not arrive by wire. It is the one where someone sat down at a kitchen table, got a sheet of lined paper and a No. 2 pencil, and poured their heart into a letter." [69]

It is axiomatic in the lobbying game that a hand-written letter by a concerned constituent has by far the strongest impact on an elected representative. As well, the more personal and relevant to the voter’s life the communication is, the more likely the letter will elicit a genuinely interested response from the representative's office. When a family without health insurance and mounting medical bills writes to their elected representative about Health Care Legislation, they will most surely get a personalized response. Other personalized contacts from the home district[70] like impassioned telephone calls and even hand written postcards also carry some weight. Mass snail-mail-letters and postcards, where people just sign at the bottom of a form are weighed much less by elected officials. E-mails as we shall see are practically "mass-less", carrying almost no political weight.

Unfortunately, the American population in general does not like taking the time to compose hand-written letters to their elected officials. During my years of grassroots organizing, [71] I found that people would gladly sign petitions, and even give money, but to get them to sit down for twenty minutes to write, proofread and maybe re-write a letter is much tougher request. Recently I received an e-mail from the Environmental Defense Action Network demonstrating that my experience still holds true in the digital age of Cyber-Lobbying. The e-mail contained the following plea:

We STRONGLY encourage you to make edits directly

to our sample letter below, and put the alert talking points

into your own words. An individualized letter is worth

ten computer generated letters. Of course, hundreds

of unedited letters will still create a large impact [72] so please reply even if you don't have time to personalize the letter.” [73]

Our elected representatives know that a voter passion about an issue --–passion that may affect their vote in the next election-- is in direct proportion to the time and energy the voter puts into their communication, and a hand-written letter takes the most time and energy. Other venues of contact, like hand-signed petitions, form letters and form postcards ---(in that order)-- get attention to a lesser degree because they take less time and energy to produce. E-mailing your representative is lowest on the totem pole as they are just too easy to send, and legislators clearly do not take them as seriously.

"As someone seeking to influence public policy, you need to have a tangible impact, and by its very nature, e-mail has no weight, it has no mass, it doesn't pile up on staffer's desk, Generating e-mail to [Capital] Hill doesn't have that tangible impact that a stack of letters or the phone ringing off the hook has." [74]

~~ Jonah Seiger, a co-founder of

Mindshare Internet Campaigns [75]

And there are even those who argue that e-mail will work against you and your issue.

“In March [2001], a study by the Congress Online Project found that e-mail, instead of promoting democracy, may be having the opposite effect. The ease with which e-mail can be sent and the push by advocacy groups for supporters to send e-mail to Congress have raised the public's expectation of being heard, the study said. Instead, the report concluded, the "conflicting practices and expectations of all the parties are fostering cynicism and eroding trust.” [76]

All in all, as of 2002 Cyber-Lobbying is clearly the least effective way to organize a legislative issue campaign and I find no reason to predict any change in this situation. My favorite saying in American politics is from the late U.S. House Speaker Mr. Tip O'Neil, who correctly asserted that "All Politics are Local". Cyber-Lobbying just is too border-less to ever become local and personal enough to supplant the power of a hand-written letter from the home district.




How the Digital Age has Totally Changed the Logistics of Organizing

People for Rallies, Marches and Protests.

The pro-Israel rally of April 15, 2002 in Washington DC, could not have been pulled off---- 100,000 (or so) attendees with just six days notice--- without the Internet.

“[The] pro-Israel rally... displayed extraordinary planning.... The massive demonstration was put together in a week, aided by the Internet and e-mail. ‘Our communities are very close-knit organizations. When someone has an idea, it spreads.” [77]

In the pre-Internet days, a rally such as April 15 would have taken thousands of activist hours to publicize and organize and never could have been done in six days. Telephone banking, envelope stuffing and postering, are all volunteer and/or staff intensive activities, and involve great amounts of time and financial expenditure. The organizing group not only has to activate a core to get involved just to spread the word and organize the pre-logistics, but also had to provide the infrastructure – (i.e. the phone lines, letters, posters, envelopes and stamps)--- to get this organizing activity done.[78]

The Internet and other wireless communication technologies have streamlined this organizing process immensely, by moving a significant portion of activist infrastructure to home desktops, portable laptops, cell phones, and e-mail pagers. Thus making it possible to mobilize thousands of people for demonstrations with a fraction of the time, money (and stress) previously needed.

(The anti-globalization protests and anarchist riots staged in Seattle and other cities around the globe in the recent past used cyber-organizing extensively and has been well documented by others.[79] )

The rapid organization of the pro-Israel rally on April 15 2002, was made possible because the core base of supporters were just waiting to be activated, and very willing to use their Internet and Wireless connections to spread the word for organizing a demonstration. Once you have a solid and ripe base--- and I argue here that the Internet could never create --- (augment yes, create no!)--- this type of ripe base [80] ---the Internet and wireless communications has proven to be a very effective organizing tool for turning out people to rallies, demonstration and marches. While this is not a pure medium --as people can and did organize rallies before cyber-space--- digital technologies have so greatly affected how people communicate for the sake of organizing rallies, that it can be defined as a semi-pure Techno-Political medium.

However rallies and demonstrations in of themselves do not change public policy or enact legislation, and just because it is easier to organize a rally turnout digitally does not mean that the cause it was organized around will any differently impacted. A march or rally organized using the latest Techno-Cyber-Tools is no more (or less) results effective that one that was organized the old-fashioned way.




The Internet as an Information Portal

for an Activist Base.


"Over the years, I have also had the opportunity to learn about how people throughout the nation are building new communities through cyberspace. I hope that you find this site and our research useful in your efforts to build a society that is more fair and just. Please let me know if you learn of something that should be included here."


The technology of the Internet greatly impacted the shaping of the debate on this year’s 2002 Farm Bill, by way of a single organization called the Environmental Working Group (EWG).[81] Using the power of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the EWG compiled comprehensive statistics on exactly to whom and to where the farm subsidies from the previous 1996 Farm Bill went from 1996-2001 and posted them on their website for all to see.

The data posted on the EWG website became embedded into the debate on the 2002 Farm Bill’s formation, and provided Congress, interest groups and reporters covering the bill, with volumes of useful statistical information. Most every major news article on the Farm Bill of 2002 mentioned the role and/or contained statistics from EWG.[82] A New York Times article published a week after February's Senate vote passing (their first pre-joint congressional conference committee version of) the 2002 Farm Bill summed up the impact of the EWG website:

“Throughout the angry Senate debate about whether to limit subsidies to wealthy farmers, lawmakers kept referring to ‘the Web site’ to make their points. ‘You can see on the Web site — 10 percent of the farmers get most of the money,’ said Senator Don Nickles, Republican of Oklahoma. ‘I looked up Indiana on the Web site,’ said Senator Richard G. Lugar, Republican of Indiana, ‘and very few Indiana farmers would be affected by a modest limit.” [83]

EWG revealed that 75% of farm subsidies from 1996-2001 went to only 15 states. As well, EWG showed that many of the largest recipients of payments via the 1996 Farm Bill were Fortune 500 Corporations who own major farming concerns. This cyber-revealed fact prompted Senator Patrick Leahy (Democrat-Vermont) put together what was dubbed the “Eggplant Caucus," a bi-partisan coalition of mostly northeastern senators whose goal was to bring regional equity to federal farm subsidies. [84]

In the end though the Farm Bill of 2002 became the most expensive and internationally controversial American Farm Bill ever passed. [85] (Internationally controversial because American price supports drive up global food prices and may violate international trade agreements. [See endnote to previous sentence.])

The efforts of EWG to produce a fairer, leaner and more environmentally sound Farm Bill for 2002 completely backfired. What appears to have happened is that by the EWG highlighting -----through their website's informational clearing house -----how the 1996 Farm Bill was unfair to many farmers, is that those farmers and their congressional supporters rose up to grip a bigger piece of the 2002 Farm Bill money pie. Instead of reducing funding to the big winners of the 1996 bill, Congress felt compelled to just pump more money into the Farm Bill of 2002 to appease those disgruntled farmers. And there was as well in the 2002 Farm Bill a serious weakening various agricultural environmental regulations that many large and small farming concerns felt were too costly. All going to show that all to often in American politics the road to hell is indeed paved with good intentions. (In this case, the good intentions of the EWG.)

I believe a big part of the blame here is that most major citizen-based special interest groups and their membership/activist bases have gone Cyber-Happy and think that large volume of cyber-lobby e-mails & etc. are enough to carry the torch for their cause. As we saw in or previous chapter on Cyber-Lobbying this strategy is doomed to failure, especially when these citizen lobbys are up against the economic interests of Fortune 500 corporations.

Despite this turn of events, I still believe PIPs to have the strongest potential of truly becoming a valuable tool in democratic discourse (globally to locally) out of all the Cyber-Political Activities outlined in this paper--- though I may be wrong. It is just that I find hard to believe that free, ready, and complete access to information –on any issue-- can negatively impact better Democracy.[86] If the American citizenship can learn to follow up on the information they get via PIPs with hand-written letters and heartfelt telephoned pleas to their elected representatives, then maybe PIPs can become a catalyst for positive social change. (Don't hold your breath on this one.)



( We will include this topic here , because Internet journalism tends to be overtly partisan and is often directly related to a ideological

viewpoint and/or cause. )

Published anonymously under the pseudonym of one “Enos Throp” as editor, has taken the New York political scene by storm. These very professional journalists have created a vibrant and no-holds-bared political news forum and information-clearing house that would be impossible to produce except via the Internet. (There are sister sites in other states as well.[87] ) Here we quote in full their purpose from the “about us” blurb on the site.

“Our site is being maintained as a resource for observers of the New York political scene. We hope, you will find as an easy and fun way to find key Internet sites pertaining to campaigns and elections in the Empire State. We’re also using this website as a means to inject our views into the political arena. With all due respect to New York's print and electronic journalists, there is some interesting inside political news that doesn’t make it in print or on the air. Maybe this Internet site will allow that to happen. We readily admit that some of us here at aren’t totally unbiased. We have favorites just like you, and there are some New York pols we really dislike. You’ll probably be able

to figure out whom on your own.”

What makes this site ---that is scoring a million hits a month by their own claim --- important and influential is that it caters to political professionals, political activists and hardcore political junkies, (and the many people who are all three).

Political Information Portals (or PIPs) whether journalistic or advocacy based –--and as we see it is a very blurry line between the two----are a new and exciting type of political information dissemination that is a pure Internet forum. For it would be impossible to do these activities within the confines of print or broadcast media. Whether they really have impact, as we have seen, solely depends on what citizens and organizations do politically- activist-wise with the information. If they write letters by hand the their elected officials great, if they just e-mail, (as we saw in Chapter 4 on Cyber-Lobbying) it will not mean a thing.




The history of the Cyber-Electioneering began in 1992 when the Democratic Presidential ticket of Governor Bill Clinton and Senator Al Gore posted a website with "full texts of speeches, advertisements and position papers, as well as biographical information." [88] Being a minuscule amount of the American population had Internet access at the time [89] the website was more a novelty than anything else.

Four years latter though in 1996 --- after Window 95 and Internet Explorer was introduced—an election day exit poll by the Voter News Service[90] showed 26% of American voters to be regular Internet users.[91] Realizing this growing trend earlier that year, 1996 Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole felt compelled to announce his campaign's website address at the end of his first nationally televised debate with President Bill Clinton.[92] It did not help, and he lost the race anyway.

Another four years latter during the 2000 Presidential primary season, Senator John McCain's campaign scored a fund-raising coup online in the wake of his victory in the New Hampshire Republican primary. Team McCain raised about 2 million via his campaign website in the week after his NH primary win. [93] [94] But Senator McCain still lost the nomination to now President George W. Bush.

Among Democrats and Republicans the web has simply been added to the arsenal of their electioneering tools without really changing the way elections are won and lost.

Nor has the Internet aided the sprouting of serious and electable alternative third-party candidates as many predicted early in the digital age. Richard Davis in his book The Web of Politics points out that "voters are not going to gravitate to [the web-] sites of parties and candidates they have never heard of, do not agree with and assume will not win. Why should they do so?"[95] However, there has been one (and only one) major exception in one Mr. Jesse Ventura.

Jesse Ventura’s 1998 election as governor of Minnesota will go down as the first (and so far only) successful major electoral campaign victory where the Internet is documented to have played an important role.[96] [97] Word spread and activists were enlisted though Cyber-Space and Jesse Ventura squeaked into office with just 37% of the vote in a tight 3-way race.[98] However is must be pointed out that Jesse Ventura was already a minor celebrity before his run to be the governor of Minnesota (---major celebrity if professional wrestling is your thing)---- and even served as Mayor of his very small Minnesota hometown. Surely that celebrity status, propelled by other mediums like radio ,TV and print, must have first given his campaign the initial boost needed to get people interested in learning more about Mr. Ventura's candidacy via their internet connection. Once something gets going on the Internet ---as we saw in our chapter 5 about Rally Organizing--- it can spread like wild-fire.

As well it should be pointed out the that the state Minnesota, of all the United States, has the longest "tradition" of cyber-politics. Many of the activist who helped Jesse Ventura win, where a product of the Minnesota E-Democracy Project which "was established in 1994 and created the world's first election-oriented web site...[to] sponsor election year online partnerships [and] to promote citizen access to election information and interaction,.. [the] primary focus [of this site]is the use of the Internet to improve citizen participation and real world governance."

(Quote from their "about us" blub @ )

As glorious and stunning as his election victory was (to some), Governor Jesse Ventura has turned out to be even a more glorious and stunning governing bomb; controversial, even ill-mannered, and all-in-all by most all accounts a really bad governor. In February 2002 only 29 percent of Minnesota voters surveyed said that they thought Gov. Ventura "deserves to be reelected”.[99] And this past summer 2002 Jesse bowed out of a re-election campaign. The first “Internet Generated Candidate”, is also the first political flop the digital generation.

Jesse Ventura's political fate parallels the often-time disastrous public policy effects of many statewide Initiative & Referendum votes ---(which will be explored below in Chapter 10)--- and bodes negatively for the future of Internet fueled candidates and voter referendums.

In American politics both candidates and issue referendums that sprout and succeed quickly, more often than not, turn out to be failures in practice. As Jesse Ventura learned, being a political Internet novelty may help you win an election to an executive office, but it will not help you to govern, nor to win re-election.


In the 2000 Congressional races the Internet played a debatable role in overall election strategies. E-Advocates [100] (a firm that manages online campaigns) and Juno Online Services (hosts of many campaign websites @ ) ---- and who are by no means unbiased observers---- did a post-2000 election study of Congressional candidates and their websites. I want to quote from their finding summary first and then highlight what I see to be the holes in their arguments.

“In Campaign 2000, challengers who won tight congressional races against incumbents also won the battle of the Web, according to a post-election review of congressional candidate Web sites by and Juno Online Services, Inc. The study found that in the 8 toss-up U.S. House and Senate races where a challenger won, an overwhelming majority – 75 percent – employed a superior Web strategy, as defined by online voters in a February 2000 e-advocates/Juno survey and candidate rankings on top search engines. Additionally, in seven out of the eight races, the winning challenger raised less money than the losing incumbent – an anomaly in the results of all congressional races nationwide”.[101]

As I touched upon in an endnote in our chapter on PIPs, it is my firm believe and experience as a political professional, that core organization of any campaign's staffing and activist base is the most important factor –--even over money--- in any successful election run or lobby-issue crusade. The fact that the less-funded challengers with effective websites fared better than those without effective websites, more than likely means that these campaigns were simply more energetic and better organized to turn out their voting supporters. It is not so much that their website helped them win, but that producing a solid website was reflective of good core organization. Richard Davis correctly asserts that "the Web plainly is less useful than, say, direct mail or newsletters" [102] in getting out information about a campaign and/or candidate. And until the digital divide is closed in the USA it will most certainly remain that way. (See our above introduction to Chapter 3 where the point about the digital divide is more fully expounded.)

The message that the Internet can only play a small supporting role in winning election campaigns seems to have registered with Congressional candidates in the upcoming 2002 elections. A study by the Bivings Group shows that as of March 2002 “only 29 percent of Senators and Representatives up for election in 2002, have clearly marked campaign websites.” [103] The same study put Republicans as better equipped in using the Internet to energize their bases, and for adding to those numbers. So as of now the GOP is winning this Cyber-Electioneering arms race and only a post-mortum of the 2002 race will tell if it will also translate into electoral victories.

I do plan to do a follow up when that scorecard is in. For there are on the horizon in this year's 2002 elections several trials of voter-peer-to-peer Cyber-Electioneering [sort of like phone-tress but in cyber-space], and the experimentation with techno-real-time monitoring of voter turnout on election day, possibly enabling elections campaigns to better target election day voter pulls as the day progresses. As we have seen in the 2000 American Presidential elections every vote can count (---unless the Supreme Court says no---) so any cyber-tools that may get you additional votes will eventually find their way into the permanent arsenals of election campaigns. (We will see if any of the above mentioned cyber-electioneering "experiments" become worth writing about after the 2002 election.)




Internet Voting in General and Primary Elections

Internet voting had it’s first major test run in the 2000 Arizona Democratic Presidential primary and was the subject of a study titled Internet Voting: Bringing Elections to the Desktop by Robert Done [104], an assistant research professor of management and policy at the University of Arizona. The research funded by Price-Waterhouse-Coopers Endowment for the Business of Government showed a significant increase in voter participation compared to the 1996 Arizona Democratic presidential primary due to the introduction of Internet voting. Voter participation tripled in the 2000 primary compared to 1996, with more votes cast on the Internet than by any other means in 2000.[105] Professor Done also cites a survey by the University of Arizona predicting that 62% of the unregistered voters from among the total eligible voting age population were likely to register to vote on the Internet if they could.[106] Based on this finding Done writes:

"[I]f just half of the 24 percent of the unregistered voting age population [in America] did register on the Internet, there would be an additional 25 million registered voters. The Internet presents an opportunity for improving democracy and the process by which it is achieved. Registration and participation of voters, essential to a healthy democracy, could be increased with Internet technology." [107]

But not all see it this way, with many proclaiming Cyber-Voting to be a process that harbors too many perils and pitfalls, as trust in the Internet as a perfectly secure and accurate medium is not –and may never be--fully established.

“Trust in the election process is at the very heart of the world's democracies. Internet voting is perhaps the perfect example of an application where rushing into deployment could have severe negative repercussions of enormous importance”.

~~ Lauren Weinstein Co-Founder

of People For Internet Responsibility.[108]

I do not see any reason to believe that the Internet will be able to overcome the fundamental issue of trust for election voting (or credit card use for that matter) anytime in the near future. Paper ballots and their "hanging chads" [109] while time consuming to count and not at all perfect, are still physically tangible. And it does not take an advanced degree in micro-processor technologies to re-count the votes if there is a challenge by the losing side in a close race. If the Florida votes in dispute during the 2000 Bush-Gore Presidential race had been Internet-Cast-Votes, history may have been different.[110] Maybe not, but I would not choose to risk it. To have the core of the American democratic process become an activity of cyber-space is something I find spooky. Hackers have proven to be some of the most talented minds of our time and there has yet to be a cyber-system that has been made impregnable to attack. When it come to voting for President or anything else, I would rather take my chances with the hanging chads.



A Brief Look at the Internet

and the

Impeachment of Bill Clinton

The effect of the Internet on the Presidency of Bill Clinton cannot be underestimated. Clinton haters and muckrakers were among the first to use the Web to spread their wares, with Matt Druge becoming the first Internet news superstar by breaking the Monica Lewinisky story. (Though, where is Matt today in 2002?) As well the final report by the office of Special Prosecutor Richard Starr on the Whitewater ---(which grew into the Lewinsky mess)--- shook the world wide web in a way that no event had no event had done so before.

“The release of the Starr report over the World Wide Web in the fall of 1998 increased overall Internet traffic by as much as 80 percent, and sparked a deluge of heated discussions on and off the Internet.” [111]

President Clinton had the mixed blessing of the Cyber-Activism and Political Information Portals (PIPs) taking root during his term. The Internet certainly was a contributing factor in his impeachment by the House as documented in these quotes from cyber-political journalist Jim Buie:

“Alerting and mobilizing people entirely over the Internet, Jim Robinson, the publisher of the conservative Free Republic web site, sponsored an "Impeach Clinton" rally at the Washington Monument on Halloween [1998]. It attracted more than 4,000 people, and set a new standard for grassroots organizing by Internet,” [112]

However the Internet may have played an even larger (but still minor in my opinion) role in Clinton's subsequent acquittal by the Senate.

“… more than 500,000 Internet users, fed up with the impeachment process, signed a petition and pledged more than $10 million through the web site www.Move to defeat the politicians they believe ignored voters' wishes to censure President Clinton and move on tother business. ultimately collected more than $2 million[113] and donated it to progressive candidates in Campaign 2000.” [114]



Why E-Democracy Won’t Ever Fly in the USA

A decade ago many pundits envisioned the Information Super Highway as heralding a new age of direct democracy in America. In an Electronic-Democracy (e-democracy), citizens would directly decide on public policy and legislation via live Internet voting, after cyber-public debate. Or at the very least, non-binding national cyber-debates would guide elected leaders to follow the American peoples will. In theory the rise of the Internet and other Digital Technologies would facilitate more informed thus more involved citizens bringing about fairer and more just social policy.

“I would create an electronic town hall where, say, every week or so we would take a single major issue to the people. We would explain it in great detail and then we would get a response from the owners of the country - the people - that could be analyzed by congressional district so that the Congress - no if's, and's and but's - would know what the people want.”

------ Ross Perot during his 1992 Presidential campaign.[115]

As we have seen, today in 2002, while the Internet has somewhat impacted the activities of the American citizens in several areas, the vision of Ross Perot’s “e-town hall” is very, very, very far off. (Did I say "very?" I cannot emphasize this point enough.) The evolution of a formal (--and even informal--) and direct “E-Democracy” in the USA is completely stymied on the national level by the fact that America is not a pure Democracy. The American citizen body has no formal constitutional role in the formation of federal law and policy. Rather the United States of America is a Democratic Republic, where the American body politic elects our legislatures and executives to enact laws and make national policy decisions in a slow (and hopefully) deliberative fashion. [116]

Unlike several European countries ---(This past March 2002 in Switzerland for example, voters approved a national referendum to join the United Nations.[117])---- there is no process for direct voter involvement beyond the election of public officials on the national level. On the state and local level, however, there does exist initiative and referendum (I & R), with 27 states having such provision.[118]

I & R takes on several forms with each state determining its particulars of procedure, but they can be broken down into the following basic categories: [119]

“Voter Initiative”: By petition citizens place a question on the ballot for a straight up or down vote, creating legislation by completely bypassing their state government.

“Popular Referendum”: Voters are asked to approve or reject legislation already approved by the state legislature.

“Legislative Initiative”: Voters can place a question onto to their State legislature’s agenda, forcing them to vote on it.

Of these, the process of “Voter Initiative” has proved to be the most volatile, producing a series contradictory citizen desires. Voters in several states have used referendums to both cut taxes and increase services, leaving their state legislators frustrated on how to meet these conflicting citizen enactments. For example Washington State citizens voted in 1999 to cut taxes and then one year later voted to spend $800 million to give teachers annual raises and reduce class size, without allowing for their state legislature to raise taxes to meet their confused demands. [120]

What is happening in the area of I & R is that conservative anti-tax groups are using the process to cut taxes, while more liberal coalitions in the same states are using I & R to increase services, with the debates remaining short-sighted and emotionally based.

One of the main questions being dealt with as the Internet evolves in the political sphere, is whether cyber-space will help voters act more responsibly, by enabling initiatives and their consequences to be more thoroughly debated and examined. But as we have seen throughout this work, the Internet is not a domain of slow deliberation –nor trustworthiness--in any way, shape of form.

When you combine the volatility of I & R with the issue of security and trust on the Internet one gets a very powerful argument against America ever moving towards any type Electronic –Democracy (formal or informal) at the national, state or even local level.




Hill and Hughes write at the end of their book Cyber-Politics “that the Internet is not going to radically change politics” in America.[121] This writer could not agree more. As we have seen in Chapter 4 on Cyber-Lobbying, hand written letters are still the best way for voters to get an elected representatives attention. While activist groups have generated millions of issue lobby e-mails, the impact of these campaigns are of very questionable value and may even have negative impact. And while political activities like the modern logistics of Rally Organizing Online and Political Information Portals (or PIPs) are fundamental products of the Digital Age, these activities by themselves are not enough to cause a greater Democratization of the American body politic. As of now in 2002, the prospect of basic change in the process and participation of American citizens in the formation of public policy and legislation due to the Digital Age is not on the foreseeable horizon.

Maybe if and/or when broadband Internet access is as common as the telephone and television, there will greater potential for democratization via the Internet. But as we discussed earlier in Chapter 2, Republican & Democrats and the Techno-Global-Corporate-Media-Powers have a history of co-opting any new communication medium to their own devices. Today the main Internet war is not Left vs. Right or even Democrat vs. Republican; but rather the economic net-ratings battle of vs. (With various Yahoos, Amazons, and E-Bayers skirmishing around them.)


If and how Cyber-Electioneering will impact the electoral process in the USA will get a big test in Fall 2002 Congressional elections, but it does not appear that there will be and dramatic change in how Americans decide who to vote for. Democrats and Republicans still dominate electoral politics and as of yet the Digital Age has given us no reason to predict any change in that fact. Unless your third-party candidate got big bucks, don't count on the Internet helping you to win an election. And as we have seen the traditional means of getting out the vote—door-knocking, direct mail, and telephone banks seemed poised to push aside any established or emerging Techno-Medium in this years American elections.[122]

The prospect of E-Democracy taking root in the United States is a total non-issue, as the American constitution does not allow citizens to directly vote on law and policy on the national level. And as we have seen on the state and local level Initiative and Referendum is much too volatile a political process predict that E-Democracy will ever take a firm root.

Democracy in the United States tends to be a slow and deliberative process. Legislation and public policy formations go through committee hearings, commission investigations (etc.) and quite often judicial review. As well Americans and their politicians and mass media seem to prefer –(and even enjoy--) a slow and drawn out primary and general election process, as they feel that is the best way to test to fortitude of prospective elected officials. Meanwhile the Internet and Digital Communications are can be rash and spontaneous. It does not seem to be a good match.

And as we have seen with Cyber-Lobbying (Chapter 4) and even PIPs (during 2002 Farm Bill debate and highlighted in Chapter 6) is any it may even be negative.

So all in all for now, in 2002, the Techno-Political Internet & Digital Age in the United States has had limited –and again even negative impact on elections and public policy formation.

END ~~~~~ END ~~~~ END

(Endnotes start on next page)


[1] Digital Communication Devices are cellphones, personal digital assistants [PDA’s], email pagers, and other wireless communication devices.

[2] The Hacktivist: . Last accessed September 4, 2002. A quote from their “about us” blurb:

“The Hacktivist is dedicated to examining the theory and practice of hacktivism and electronic civil disobedience while contributing to the evolution of hacktivism by promoting constructive debate, effective direct action, and creative solutions to complex problems in order to facilitate positive change.”

[3] Swain, Paul, (New Zealand Minister for Information Technology and Communications.) PRESS REALEASE 6 May 2002 “ICT Taskforce Announced

Last Accessed September 3, 2002 @

“A group of New Zealand’s top technology entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and business leaders have been named as members of the Government’s new Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Taskforce. “

[4] Some would argue E-Electioneering or E-lobbying. I believe “Cyber” to be more accurate than “e” / “electronic” in talking about Internet activity. Telephones and fax machines are also electronic. Cyber-Space is the Internet. A Cyber-Activist may never use any other medium.

[5] Kotok, Alan. U.S. Techno-Politics [an Online Journal] @

Last accessed September 15, 2002 @ .The author of this paper would like to thank Alan Kotok for turning me on to the term Techno-Politics in this sense. ("Techno-politics" was also the tile of a PBS series during the 1990's.) A quote from the front page of Alan's Techno-Political Journal:

"Welcome to the U.S. Techno-Politics community. This page will give you an up-to-date report on the interactions between information technology and the world of politics, where each side is still learning how to deal with the other. We will report on activities in Executive agencies and Congress, often giving news that may not reach the radar screens of the mainstream media."

[6] There one day soon will be an appendix piece to this paper on this, but for now it takes us too beyond the scope of our topic.

[7] West, Darrell M.; Assessing E-Government: The Internet, Democracy, and Service Delivery by State and Federal Governments. September, 2000. Brown University Providence, RI 02912. Last accessed September 6, 2002 via @ .

[8] Arthur, Charles. How Police Search for Clues in Cyberspace , 10 August 2002

[9] Williams, Roger. Technopolitics: Giving Advice and Taking Decisions. Michael Zeltzerman Lecture at the University of Vermont Wednesday, 14 October 1998. Full text of the lecture was available at , and was last accessed on June 9, 2002. (Page no longer available)

[10] ibid. Unfortunately Prof. Williams does not reference where the quote is from, just that Tofler used the term.

[11] ASSOCIATED PRESS. You’re Not Paranoid, You are Being Watched. As tracking tools improve,true privacy may be lost . September 1, 2002.. Via . Last accessed date of publication @ .

[12] For example; my personally owned URL is hosted by the Internment portal @ (As soon as I figure out how to do it --- and do it correctly and professionally--- this paper will be posted there.)

[13] Portals are the major homepages that have become part of our Internet lives: ; ; ; . etc.

[14] For further reading on this important matter, the American Library Association's

website has a page dedicated to Deep-Link issues @ .

[15] COPENHAGEN, Denmark, July 5 — Challenging the World Wide Web’s fundamental premise of linking, a Danish court ordered an Internet news service to stop linking to Web sites of Danish newspapers. Copenhagen’s lower bailiff’s court ruled Friday that was in direct competition with the newspapers and that the links it provided to specific news articles damaged the value of the newspapers’ advertisements.” FROM: Associated Press. Danish Court Bars Web Site’s Links. News service told to stop linking to Danish newspapers. Last accessed July 5 2002. Available via @

[16] I am not a constitutional lawyer, but I play one at home, and I believe from an academic standpoint ----where one is expected to provide the most complete references and citations possible--- deep linking is an essential right. It is the same as me cutting out a newspaper article and posting on the home refrigerator or workplace bulletin board. No one would expect to me to post any of the advertising that was also on that same page of the newspaper or magazine article. Why should I have to do it in cyber-space? Only time will tell what the American court system says.

[17] A quote from their homepage: " is a vast archive of published articles that you can search for free. Constantly updated, it contains articles dating back to 1998 from more than 300 magazines and journals.

[18] ASSOCIATED PRESS. One effect of 9/11: Less privacy : New surveillance laws passed worldwide, report says. September 3, 2002. Accessed date of publication via @

[19] ALA News Release. American Library Association applauds federal court ruling on the Children's Internet Protection Act. The American Library Association (ALA) . : May 31, 2002 The deep-links are active as of August 25, 2002.

The American Library Association (ALA) applauds the decision of the federal

court in Philadelphia today, which ruled unanimously that the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) is unconstitutional. The opinion was written by Chief Judge Edward R. Becker of the Third Circuit and joined by U.S. District Judges John P. Fullam and Harvey Bartle III.”

[20] Ruwitch, John. China Appears to Block Web Search Engine Google. Reuters

Sep 2, 2002. Accessed via news on date of publication @

[21] Reuters: Vietnam Cracks Down on 'Harmful' Internet Use. August 7, 2002.

Accessed on date of publication via news @

“Communist-ruled Vietnam has ordered local authorities to inspect Internet usage in its two biggest cities in a crackdown on "harmful information" from cyberspace, officials said on Tuesday. A spokesman at the Directorate General of Posts and Telecommunications (DGPT) told Reuters the scrutiny, which started last week, would be nationwide after initially targeting the capital city Hanoi and commercial hub Ho Chi Minh City.”

[22] McCullagh, Declan. Will Canada's ISPs Become Spies? CNET August 27, 2002, Accessed on date of publication @

[23] Kellner, Douglas. “Intellectuals, the New Public Spheres, and Techno-Politics”, Available at

[24] See note 4 on why I choose "cyber".

[25] There is also commonly used; e-advocate, e-activist and e-lobbying but as noted before endnote 4, I believe cyber to be more accurate when talking about purely Internet activity.

[26] During the second half of the 1980’s, I was on staff at the global environmental organization Greenpeace’s New York City office (www.greenpeace). The organization then had it’s own early Internet portal called GREENLINK. Every day after punching in several dozen DOS keyboard commands ---(back then a mouse was only a rodent)-- we printed out Greenpeace’s issue briefings and news releases from around the globe using a dot-matrix printer. Seems like ancient history now.

[27] Gromov , Gregory R. History of Internet and WWW: The Roads and Crossroads of Internet History

Available @: and last accessed July 3, 2002.

[28] Mariano, Gwendolyn: Web Usage Grows Across Globe, CNET, June 10, 2002.
June 11 2002 @

[29] Dreazen, Yochi J. : U.S. Web Usage Hits 54 Percent Report: For first time, more than half of population on Net. THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, Feb. 4 2002. Via .

Accessed Feb 5 2002 @

(Link not currently active)

[30] United States Census Bureau @ Last accessed June 15, 2002

[31] Though television's invention was in 1929 it remained commercially dormant for nearly twenty years; until it exploded with an equally astounding place from 1948-1954. Windows and Internet Explorer exploded in use shortly after their invention.

[32] Wireless Web comes to Starbucks. August 21, 2002

Last accessed August 21, 2002@

[33] It is possible today for different Digital media to be in use by the communicating parties. For example: I can use my computer to send a e-mail to someone’s e-mail pager. I can also use my email portal to send and receive faxes and I can get e-mail verbally read to me by an electronically generated voice on my cellphone.

[34] Davis, Richard: The Web Of Politics: The Internet’s Impact on the American Political System. Oxford University Press. Copyright 1999. ISBN: 0-19-511485-X

See pages 28-29 for a brief overview this topic from a political-historical prospective.

[35] Orr, Andrea: Innocent 'Hello' Sells Hot Sex on the Internet.

April 27 2002 , Reuters. Accessed April 28 2002 @ [Link not currently active]

[36] The issues of Techno-Politics, Electronic-Government and Cyber-Politics are as diverse as the countries they occur in. Each government and people on this planet use the Internet for political means. As the laws of government differ from country to country, the sphere of Techno-Cyber-Politics is unique to each. Please do bear in mind that how Americans use the Internet is by no means a clear indicator of how the Internet is being use politically in other Democracies and Dictatorships.

[37] Clarke, Roger: Freedom of Information? The Internet as Harbinger of the New Dark Ages Peer-Reviewed Journal of the Internet,

volume 4, number 11 (November 1999),
Available @

Last accessed June 25 2002

A quote from the article:

“ There's a common presumption that the Internet has brought with it the promise of openness, democracy, the end of inequities in the distribution of information, and human self-fulfillment. Any such conclusion would be premature. The digital era has amused and beguiled us all. Its first-order impacts are being assimilated, but its second-order implications are not. Powerful institutions perceive their interests to be severely threatened by the last decade of technological change and by the shape of the emergent 'information economy'. Elements of their fight back are identified, particularly extensions to legal protectionism, and the active development and application of technologies that protect data from prying eyes. Many of the features that have ensured a progressive balance between data protection and freedom of access to data have already been seriously eroded. The new balance that emerges from the current period of turmoil may be far less friendly to public access and more like a New Dark Ages.”

[38] Jesdanun, Anick . ASSOCIATED PRESS: BOOK REVIEW, “The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World,” by Lawrence Lessig, (Published by Random House.) The next threat to the Internet : Legal scholar warns of challenges to innovation. January 8, 2002.

[Accessed Jan 7 2002 @ Link inactive].

Last Accessed August 19, 2002 @

”In his new book, Lawrence Lessig warns of threats to innovation as the Internet becomes increasingly controlled by businesses, the technology they develop and the laws they push. In his 1999 book, “Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace,” Lessig warns of threats to free speech and privacy as the Internet becomes increasingly controlled by businesses, the technology they develop and the laws they push. “The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World,” published by Random House, is in many respects a sequel: Lessig argues that innovation is under threat by those same efforts. One tendency Lessig worries about is the development of software techniques that would let Internet service providers prioritize — and perhaps charge more for — certain traffic over others.”

[39] Davis , Richard.. Page 29.

[40] ibid. Page 32.

[41] Excepting Ross Perot and other wealthy power mongers


[43] Digital communication media are cellphones, personal digital assistants [PDA’s], email pagers, and other wireless devices.

[44] Hill, Kevin and Hughes, John. Cyberpolitics: Citizen Activism in the Age of the Internet. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Inc. Copyright 1998. Page 179

[45] Dreazen, Yochi J. : U.S. Web Usage Hits 54 Percent Report: For first time, more than half of population on Net. THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, Feb. 4 2002. Via .

Accessed Feb 5 2002 @

(Link not currently active)

[46] NAGOURNEY, ADAM. Politicians Turn to Alternatives to TV Advertising. New York Times September 4 2002. Accessed on date of publication at the New York Times website. It is now only available for $2.95 via the Times site. But is available at Lexis-Nexis. (Or maybe it is still one you coffee table.)

Author's note to end note # 46: While I wrote the sentence this is end-noted to months ago, I was struck by the similar conclusion where the subject was television rather than the Internet. Either way it is clear that the Techno-Political age has not supplanted the traditional grass-root tools of politics that have been around for generations. The opening words of the article are as follows:

"WASHINGTON, Sept. 4 — The once-overwhelming influence of television advertising on political campaigns is declining, Democratic and Republican leaders say, leading them to embrace aggressively old-fashioned campaign tools like telephone calls and door-knocking in this year's Congressional elections."

[48] Democracy Online: Digital Democracy Databank. ( )

Post-Election 2000 Survey on Internet Use for Civics and Politics. December 4, 2000.

Last accessed August 22, 2002 @

[49] ibid.

[51] Buie, Jim. Internet Proves to be Powerful in Political, Legislative Battles.

Last accessed August 22, 2002 @

[54] See for coverage of the event.

[55] Konrad, Rachel, Got a cause? Here's How to Get Online.
July 3, 2002, 4:00 PM PT

[56] U.S. Newswire. AFL-CIO Hosts Online Labor Day Festival Aug. 29 2001.

[57] Yes I know I said I prefer the term "cyber" to be more accurate than "e"/electronic; but the terms e-mail .etc. .have become so accepted that I feel I have no choice but to use them.

[58] The Facts and the Farm Bill @

[60] Democracy Online: Digital Democracy Databank.

Post-Election 2000 Survey on Internet Use for Civics and Politics. December 4, 2000.

Last accessed August 22, 2002 @

[62] Congress Online Project : Congress Online Special Report
E-mail Overload In Congress
- Update
August 7, 2002


[63] Totty, Michael. Get Out the Vote : The Web has become a must tool for most political lobbyists. Some do it better than others. The Wall Street Journal Online. . April 15 2002. Last accessed August 18, 2002 @.,,SB1018650866755190720,00.html


[67] Buie, Jim. Internet Proves to be Powerful in Political, Legislative Battles. Copyright 2001

[68] ibid.

[69] Raney, New York Times . E-Mail Gets the Cold Shoulder in Congress, December 13, 200I

Accessed on date of publication @

Available via Lexis –Nexis (Or you could pay the $2.95)

[70] I cannot emphasize this point strongly enough as a major flaw of e-mail campaigns is that they often come from outside a legislators district rendering them as meaningless.

[71] This author worked at the New York Public Interest Research Group ( from 1983-1986 & '92-'95, and for Greenpeace USA ( ) from 1986-1991.

[72] A point I question as to its truth, as we see throughout this chapter.

[74] Totty, Michael. Get Out the Vote:The Web has become a must tool for most political lobbyists. Some do it better than others. The Wall Street Journal Online. . April 15 2002. Last accessed August 18, 2002 @.,,SB1018650866755190720,00.html

[76] Raney, New York Times , E-Mail Gets the Cold Shoulder in Congress, December 13, 2001. Available via Lexis-Nexis (or by paying the New York $2.95.)

[77] Sheridan, Mary Beth. Different Causes, Similar Tactics. Internet Used by Organizers of Israeli, Palestinian Rallies. Washington Post Wednesday, April 17, 2002; Page B08

Accessed date of publication @ ,

And last accessed September 4, 2002 @

[78] I know from personal experience as a veteran of many electoral campaigns and issue causes that “organizing organizers” is a miracle each time it happens. Many well-funded electoral campaigns and issue-lobbies fail to win or produce serious impact because of poor core organization. (The American humorist Will Rogers [circa 1930’s] used to say: “I am not a member of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat ! )

[79] The Pew Foundation American Life Project (

“Lee Rainie, the [Pew’s] project's director, said [that] groups -- globally and locally -- use the Internet as an organizing tool. A classic example on the global scale, he said, is how the protests against the World Trade Organization were organized.”

[note 79 continued] Quote from: Federal Computer Week @ .Study defines 'local groupies' by Dibya Sarkar. Nov. 2, 2001.

Last accessed September 1, 2002 @

[80] See Hill & Hughes; Cyber-Politics page 60-61 for a perspective on this point. How these activist bases are formed is way beyond the scope of our topic, though Hill and Hughes do touch on this point quite frequently with statistics in their work.

[82] The Facts and the Farm Bill @

[83] Becker, Elizabeth. “Web Site Helped Change Farm Policy” The New York Times. February 24, 2002 Obtained via the New York Times on the Internet;, February 24 2002.

(Available via Lexis-Nexis or by paying the New York Times.)

[84] Zremski, Jerry Farm Bill Aims for Level Playing Field; Congress is Poised to Correct A Disparity in Federal Aid That Has Overwhelmingly Favored the South and Midwest.” The Buffalo News. 19 February 2002. Sec: Local, p. B1 Available via Lexis-Nexis and was accessed on 21 March 2002

[85] KRISTOF,NICHOLAS D. Farm Subsidies That Kill. NEW YORK TIMES , OP-ED page. July 5, 2002. Accessed date of publication @ (Available by paying the Times $2.95 or through Lexis-Nexis. )

[86] This sort of opens up the issue of what is exactly meant by better democratization. Majority rule is not necessarily fairer rule. Either way this topic is way beyond the scope of the subject matter of this paper. Please see Robert A. Dahl, Democracy and Its Critics, (Copyright 1989 by Yale University Press), and especially Chapter 10 therein, for what is considered the premiere treatment of this topic.

[87] PoliticsNH; PoliticsNJ; PoliticsPA; PoliticsVT : (Links Active as of September 1, 2002)

[88] Davis, Richard. The Web Of Politics. Page 86-87.

[89] See Chapter 2, part A of this paper for the statistics and souces.

[90] Their website does not seem to be active as of this writing. Try

[91] Davis. page 87

[92] Ibid. page 86


[93] Thompson, Nicholas. Machined Politics. How the Internet is really, truly-seriously-going to change elections. Washington Monthly Online. May 2002. Last accessed Sept. 1 2002 @

[94] As mentioned elsewhere in this paper, cyber-donating is not a major activity by Americans. This is one of the very few notable exceptions. If the Senator has raised this money before his victory in New Hampshire instead of after, this event would really be meaningful. But he didn't, so it ain't.

[95] Davis. Page 95.

[96] The Jesse Ventura official website has a page documenting their use of the Internet in the 1998 race @ .

[97] Napoli, Lisa. A Ventura Campaign Video Game? May 30, 2002

Last accessed @ , August 5, 2002

“Phil Madsen, the mastermind behind Ventura’s 1998 campaign strategy. History books will point to Madsen’s use of the Web as one of the very first — and certainly the most successful — examples of the fusion of politics and the Net”.

[98] Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State @

[99] Smith, Dane. Star Tribune Minnesota Poll: Ventura's Approval Dips Below 50 Percent for First Time.

Last accessed on August 21, 2002 @

[101] PR Newswire: "E-advocates/Juno Post-Election Review Finds Net Savvy Challengers Defeat Incumbents .In Toss-Up Races, Congressional Challengers Used the Web to Advantage" Nov 20, 2000. The full report is no longer available on it original page , but can be accessed through @

[102] Davis , The Web of Politics page 97

[103] Nua Internet Surveys,

“Nua Newsbytes: US candidates not using the Net” Mar 25 2002:

Last accessed at on August 4, 2002.

[104] The full report in PDF format is accessible @

[105] Mark, Roy. New Report Explores Internet Voting , , April 12, 2002 Last accessed August 18, 2002 @

[106] ibid.

[107] ibid.

[108] People For Internet Responsibility:

[109] Which were the focus of the disputed votes in the 200 American Presidential election.

[110] As I am proof-reading this work the McBride- Reno primary in Florida Sept 10 2002, is high-lighting this point as many vote were electronically cast and/or discarded.~~RAH

[111] Buie , Jim . Internet Proves to be Powerful in Political, Legislative Battles. Copyright 2001 Available @

[112] ibid.

[113] As noted before , Internet fund-raising is not very effective, and a 20% return on pledges is a very poor rate.

[114] Buie, Jim. (See note 60).

[115] London, Scott . Electronic Democracy ; A Literature Survey. March 1994. A Paper Prepared for the Kettering Foundation

Available @

Last accessed on June 18, 2002.

[116] Yes , I know this is "Politics 101" so to speak, but many people –who should know better--miss this basic point. Like Ross Perot for one, and former Bill Clinton political guru Dick Morris for another--- whose book and website ---- [ © 1999 by Renaissance Books]---merit mention in this paper only in this footnote.

[117] BBC News. Swiss welcomed into United Nations. March 4, 2002.

Last accessed August 21, 2002 @

[118] The Initiative & Referendum Institute. Last accessed August 24, 2002 @

[119] The Initiative & Referendum Institute. Last accessed August 24, 2002 @

[120] Egan. Timothy. They Give, but They Also Take: Voters Muddle States' Finances. The New York Times. March 2, 2002. Available via Lexi-Nexis (or again by paying the Times $2.95.)

[121] Hill and Hughes. page 182.

[122] NAGOURNEY, ADAM. Politicians Turn to Alternatives to TV Advertising. New York Times September 4 2002. (see note 46 for details)

END of Project!