2008.11.11: November 11, 2008: Headlines: Figures: COS - Cameroon: Journalism: Speaking Out: Obama: Election 2008 - Obama: The Capital Times: Margaret Krome writes: Obama win shows power of idealism, technology

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Cameroon: Special Reports: Cameroon RPCV and Columnist Margaret Krome: 2008.11.11: November 11, 2008: Headlines: Figures: COS - Cameroon: Journalism: Speaking Out: Obama: Election 2008 - Obama: The Capital Times: Margaret Krome writes: Obama win shows power of idealism, technology

By Admin1 (admin) (151.196.12.195) on Saturday, December 13, 2008 - 12:30 pm: Edit Post

Margaret Krome writes: Obama win shows power of idealism, technology

Margaret Krome writes: Obama win shows power of idealism, technology

"I spent years feeling powerless at unethical spokespeople for the right, who somehow had convinced the world to believe their relentless line that the American media were liberal, despite endless evidence to the contrary. Despite the media's complete capitulation before the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Despite the pass so many newspapers and news channels gave to the Bush tax cuts. Despite their unquestioning acceptance of the nation's presumed conservative views in 2000 and 2004. Somehow, conservatives painted the timid media as the liberal tiger it wasn't, and corporate advertisers scared newspaper owners into submission. But just as progressives began to flex their organizing muscles on the Internet, they also found there a new voice. Blogs like Dailykos and Politico became a primary source of reliable information, fact-checking sites became an antidote to the Republican smear campaign tactics, videographers documented race-baiting and intolerance at Palin rallies, and young statisticians like Nate Silver turned Fivethirtyeight into a must-read source of reliable information." Journalist Margaret Krome served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cameroon.

Margaret Krome writes: Obama win shows power of idealism, technology

Margaret Krome: Obama win shows power of idealism, technology

Margaret Krome 11/11/2008 5:35 am

Last week my son and I visited a small liberal arts college to which he might be interested in applying. I relished conversations with students, staff and other parents, overhearing student discussions, and feeling the pre-election excitement of a campus of idealists. My undergraduate experiences in the post-Watergate, post-Vietnam mid-'70s were marked by a far more cynical student body, and we were the worse for it.

It's easy to dismiss youthful idealists as inexperienced and undeserving participants, but last week's election illustrated the power of that idealism as well as of astute strategies and tactics, accurate communication and technological prowess. In fact, youth and idealism were at the very core of this year's Democratic strategy, tactics, communication and technological advantage.

Much has been written about the powerful role that the Internet played in electing Barack Obama and reconfiguring the electoral map. The sophisticated fundraising and organizing strategies with which Howard Dean amazed the nation just five years ago took full flower since then. The energetic Netroots Nation community outmaneuvered more centrist Democrats to vote Dean into his role as chair of the Democratic National Committee, which enabled him to push forward the successful 50-state strategy. The grass-roots fundraising that enabled that strategy to work depended on creative viral videos, informed bloggers and passionate idealists, many of them young. Together, they raised over $650 million for Obama from online and more conventional means, which funded new Obama offices and get-out-the-vote efforts unmatched in history.

But technology's role in this election goes beyond fundraising and grass-roots strategies, powerful as they were. Technology finally enabled Democrats to provide a potent source of information and debate equal to the conservative media that had bamboozled the world into thinking our nation had a right-wing majority worldview.

I sat in the Minneapolis airport three weeks before the election, with no control over the channels on the TV towering above my head, as Lou Dobbs on CNN fulminated against ACORN, Bill Ayers and other right-wing conspiracy theories. He made no attempt at balance. No word on voter suppression concerns. Far from fact-checking that day's smear against Obama, he furthered every rumor on the horizon and then smirked that he was glad to be an independent, nonpartisan member of the media.

I spent years feeling powerless at unethical spokespeople for the right, who somehow had convinced the world to believe their relentless line that the American media were liberal, despite endless evidence to the contrary. Despite the media's complete capitulation before the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Despite the pass so many newspapers and news channels gave to the Bush tax cuts. Despite their unquestioning acceptance of the nation's presumed conservative views in 2000 and 2004. Somehow, conservatives painted the timid media as the liberal tiger it wasn't, and corporate advertisers scared newspaper owners into submission.

But just as progressives began to flex their organizing muscles on the Internet, they also found there a new voice. Blogs like Dailykos and Politico became a primary source of reliable information, fact-checking sites became an antidote to the Republican smear campaign tactics, videographers documented race-baiting and intolerance at Palin rallies, and young statisticians like Nate Silver turned Fivethirtyeight into a must-read source of reliable information.

A key word is reliable. While many of the giants in the progressive blogosphere make no pretense of impartiality in their agenda, their popularity depends on their wealth of facts and information as well as their colorful commentary. The blogosphere has finally given voice to a far more pluralistic progressive movement than the nation previously knew existed.

What will the Republicans do now? Certainly, they will seek technological parity in Internet organizing. Possibly they will continue their strategy of campaign scare and smear tactics that failed to win the results they sought this year. But their party's future depends on whether it can inspire young people -- or whether conservative idealism remains an oxymoron. In the absence of a clear unifying philosophy, will Republicans simply hunker down as naysayers, or can young Republican idealists redefine their own agenda to respond to more than their party's extreme right wing? One lesson from this election is that no technology, no strategy and no fear tactics can overcome the power of youthful idealists; without them, the Republican Party's future is bleak.

Margaret Krome of Madison writes a semimonthly column for The Capital Times.




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Story Source: The Capital Times

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Figures; COS - Cameroon; Journalism; Speaking Out; Obama; Election 2008 - Obama

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