The SC GOP Blew It

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the supernova explosion Joe Wilson ignited at the intersection of politics and technology. Let's start this note with the same request, "everyone sheath your partisan saifs." What's below isn't partisan, but is about the power at the intersection of politics and technology, or in this case the lack of it.

Joe Wilson's outburst on the floor during the President's speech set off an explosion felt throughout the Internet. Wilson and his upcoming opponent for his Congressional seat, Rob Miller, have both raised over $1 million for their campaigns in a few weeks since the incident.

Last Thursday. a debate was held between the five GOP candidates running for Governor in 2010. With a recent demonstration of the power at the intersection of politics and technology, the debate could have served to stimulate a discussion during the debate by people all across the state or even beyond. It didn't really.

One of the most interesting online experiences I have had recently was during the last State of the State address by Governor Sanford. I watched the speech live on ETV, while at the same time having on line conversations with people across the state on Twitter and in the WSPA chat room moderated by Amy Wood. Participants in the discussion included Legislators on the floor of the statehouse. There were strong opinions both ways, but the conversation was civil.

I was really looking forward to a similar experience with the gubernatorial debate. Problems started with the live Internet video stream from WIS-TV which didn't work for many people, including me. The GOP lost lots of their audience at home, and thus much of the impact of the debate, as a result. There was a twitter conversation I followed, but because I couldn't see the debate, it wasn't the same because it was hard for me to contribute to the discussion.

When I complained about the problems with the video stream, someone from WIS told me a recording would be available online that I could watch later. That was good. but it missed the point of having the experience of conversing with others across the state during the debate. What he was offering was passive, like broadcast TV which is his world, and what I wanted was an active engagement with others.

That is really at the heart of the issue here. Neither the SC GOP nor WIS grasped that the Internet has fundamentally changed our experience with politics. Those who responded to Joe Wilson's outburst became active players, many to the point of pulling out their credit and debit cards. They will never settle for being passive again. Politics is no longer so much about what parties and politicians broadcast to us, but about conversations we have with each other about them and the actions we are then motivated to take.

It's a new world. There is impressive power at the intersection of politics and technology. Parties, politicians, the media and others will either figure out how to tap into it, or they will become obsolete and get left behind.

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