Thursday, March 19, 2009

The "Obama-TechnoPolitical Impact" : When the POTUS has a Blackberry --that won't leave his hands--- we are now in a whole new TechnoPolitical world.

The tools of politics have been greatly  changed by technology during the last decade. How people communicate has changed dramatically as well, with email and cell phones, Blackberrys, iPhones and all else.

But even with the election of Barack Obama as POTUS -- a moderate-center-liberal Democrat -- the power centers of politics in the USA has not really been changed by the Internet. It is still Democrats and Republicans.

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.

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 -- which as you see are basically unchanged now in 2009--- 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 today in 2009 -- and as in 2002 when this just above was first posted ---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 you  shall read throughout this blog , in my humble opinion,  the Internet does not at all seem poised to facilitate the forming of  any major new political parties  in the USA 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. 

 For while the Political Spheres that make up the  USA's body politic have incorperated the Internet & Digital Technologies into them,  they are still basically the same political ball they  were  ten or twenty or even thirty years ago.

 Now, though , if President Barak Obama can use the internet to harness the power of the people, to help forward his agenda, then we will see what will be the "Obama-TechonoPolitical Impact" on politics in the USA.

Because when the POTUS has a Blackberry --that won't leave his hands--- we are now in a whole new TechnoPolitical world.