YouTube debate brings politics to the people?By Iquo B. Essien, The AFRican Blogger

YouTube debate brings politics to the people?
By Iquo B. Essien, The AFRican Blogger

Published on Tue, Jul 24 2007 by Iquo Essien

Last night, CNN and YouTube teamed up for an online presidential debate featuring questions from folks around the globe, in what is being hailed as a milestone in American politics. CNN aired selected questions from over 3000 YouTube submissions from Americans worldwide. I missed the whole thing, but the entire debate is available online complete with highlights and analysis. (I hate analysts, by the way. As if I can't make up my own mind on the matter.)

Barack almost died when he got a question about reparations! LOL. But he got some laughs too, saying he had to "show his credentials" when hailing a cab, re: whether or not he is "black" enough. A group of aid workers in Darfur, artfully featured with an armful of darling children, submitted a question as well.

You know, the critics are saying this thing is all hype, but I think it's absolutely BRILLIANT. Bravo to folks really beginning to harness the true popular power of the Internet. I think it's great that politicians got to listen to real people asking about what matters to them, like same sex marriage.

However, I will note that the problem isn't as much about the listening as the responsiveness. The American government has become a lumbering machine with a million moving parts that have rusted over with decay. I'm not sure what is needed to grease the wheels, or if it should be declared unusable and tossed away.

Unfortunately, given that CNN chose the questions, there is an inherent bias (and a pretty bad one). But, hey, it's better than a few grannies from Pensacola in a 200-seat town hall meeting asking about school taxes. I hate watching debates for that very reason. On the other hand, this one featured a melting snowman asking about global warming. Heheh...wait a minute, that's not funny.

Practically speaking, though, this brings up the very real issue of the digital divide. If blacks and other minorities don't have access to computers, they are at a disadvantage in this type of debate or in the electoral process at large. In this day and age we can't count on the media to tell us what we need to know -- we have to seek it out. And until we address this divide, the interests of the privileged win out. Most of our elected officials, institutions, and corporations are out of touch with that reality. I remember a couple of years ago when Rupert Murdoch wanted to give 100-dollar laptops to every child in the developing world. Uh, yeah, there are just too many problems with that whole scenario...


The AFRican Blogger

P.S. The whole world is watching this race, y'all. I still haven't decided who I'm voting for. I want to say Barack, really I do, but I have a long relationship with Hil (voted her in as NYS Senator...singlehandedly, I might add ;) that I'm still tryna reconcile. We shall see...

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