Okay, so technically I think that this is in fact a re-vlog. For that whole ugly and convoluted explanation you can check the first few grafs of this diary that I wrote recently. The following is a reprinting with minor video mods from the vlog I posted about the Edwards appearance at the Gnomedex 6.0 - A Higher Resolution Conference in Seattle, WA last June.
The main themes of the conference were access and engagement in the political dialogue of this country and specifically how emerging media can provide it or enhance it. Most of the attendees agreed that the machinery of our national political discourse is irreparably broken. They discussed how new media can and should step into that void, but curiously their discussion kept getting back to the need for transparency and authenticity to get anything off the ground.
The questions are in bold. The Senator's statements are in blockquotes unless otherwise noted.
This clip sets the tone of the event, it was all q & a. The techies were welcoming in an interloper, a politician in a world of bits, bytes and chomps. Chris Pirillo may have been criticized widely for inviting Edwards, but the discussion revealed that Edwards was a superb choice.
Q: Have you read The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki?
No, Edwards hasn't.
Q: How do we change the perception, that he sees, of Democrats today in this country? "What we see out here are a bunch of wimpy xxxxxxxx Democrats that don't take it to the mat." "Are you gonna take it to the mat?" Red diaper baby Marc Canter really gets the "ball" rolling and sets the candid tone for the event with his question.
From Canter, "I love you don't get me wrong." Edwards retorts, "yeah I know what's coming now." This was a gift served up a silver platter to Edwards. Although Canter framed the question around the fight to preserve Net Neutrality, Edwards quickly draws the parallel to Universal health care. By last June, Edwards had some very strong language challenging the Democratic Party on it's penchant for incrementalism. At the tech conference he said this about UHC:
If the Democratic party wants to lead this country, we're going to have to show a little backbone and courage. We have to stop with this mealy-mouthed, ya know, being careful and being cautious.
Why in the world our party can't say that we are for Universal Health Care, that we're gonna fight for UHC and to anybody that stands in the way of it that we're going to do everything we can to drive through them? ...
Instead of, "well we're going to make healthcare more affordable," or "we're going to provide better access to health care."... Weasel words ... That's what our party has to get away from.
Edwards agrees with Canter that Net Neutrality would have been another good issue for Dems to take head on.
Q: "When people speak with a human voice, I think other people recognize it... At your level, do you know? Can you hear it in your own voice when you're like kinda slipping into the non-human polished speech?" direct quote.
I told you it was candid and the question ends with the whole room laughing. Edwards rips the cover of the ball with his candid response, in part:
Here's the problem, the problem is that we're so trained and so conditioned over a long period of time and being "normal" and "real" and "authentic" requires you to shed that conditioning...
Most politicians don't even try. They try to stay in their safe zone and their safe zone is to be plastic... and never to be normal or never to be real.
The answer is yes. I can feel it.
The next President or certainly the one after will be the single candidate that doesn't sound like a politician. But let me tell you, on a personal level, I'm trying everything I know how to not do it.
We've been trained to do the wrong thing. That's the problem.
Elizabeth has also been working the problem through their podcasting at OAC. Looks like it's working Mrs. E.
Q: As a Democrat, do you think that we're capable of doing what it takes to win?
I think that there is a battle going on for the soul of the Democratic Party just to be blunt. I think that battle is between those that think that, not the camp I'm in, triangulation and moderation and careful political maneuvering and half-steps is where our party needs to go because it gets us to the political center. And that's where we need to be.
My view is that you exhibit strength and the ability to lead by big ideas, I don't mean crazy ideas, but big ideas that you're willing to stand behind with some backbone. I believe that is where our Party needs to go and that is how we will win. We won't win any other way.
Q: R's are using language well. How do D's counter their success? This question on language is one of my favorites from the conference. It comes from Alex Williams of Podcast Hotel. The war with language. Terrorism to spy on people. Death tax to guarantee the rich a lifetime without taxation. The Patriot act. Don't Think of an Elephant by George Lakoff.
Presidential elections ... are not driven by that kind of language... because there's such a clear choice between one candidate and another ... I don't think that the elections are decided by the issues. I mean, of course the issues matter but, ... I think they're [the elections] largely about integrity, character and leadership.
Now I can't honestly say that it's [the election] not impacted on the edges by the language issues, but ... I think that language drives national substantive debates events, if that makes sense, as opposed to a presidential election.
Q: "Bloggers and others who use social media to live their lives at least partly on the record are setting a completely different type of agenda for conversation in United States and I'd like to urge you, as a candidate, ... to do the same thing. Mitch Ratcliffe, the first journalist to take a web cam on AirForce One with Clinton, discusses a problem with Edwards. He wants access and he doesn't see that forthcoming in American politicians today.
This is an excellent exchange and not really a question.
Edwards: How would I? What's the best thing. I want to do it, tell me what's the best way.
Ratcliffe: Give a free seat on your campaign bus, the one you're on, to someone who's going to ride along and report about everything that you're doing every single day.
Pirillo: Yeah and get the other side to do it too.
Ratcliffe: It will encourage dialog ... between you and whatever opponent you may be currently debating because the citizens will always be able to inject a forceful reality into those discussions and the crap and BS and all the language just cuts away.
Q: "From your perspective, what are some of the challenges that you face bridging the gap between constituents and political action."
The questioner wants to know how media can foster engagement, educate voters and why people are making such bad choices, in his opinion. Edwards tells him that people are cynical and apathetic for good reason. Top down political communication is no longer enough to get people invested in anything.
Top down just kills engagement...
Everybody believes, because it's largely true, that politicians spoon feed information to the public, they only give them the information that is useful to them, personally, and it's all this plastic veneer...
There is a reason that people are cynical and distrusting. It's because they have great reason to be distrusting. Anything we can do to give real access to reality [would be good. ]
If you're still reading, that last we includes you. Too.
Q: What do we do about the domestic spying problem in this country today?
The Swift network, total information awareness, etc. Edwards agrees and says that in times like this, are freedoms are the most vulnerable and we cannot give them up in the name of war.
Q: Internet Taxes and Monitoring? from the cove. These two questions are presented out of order, this is the first time the monitoring question is asked at the conference. It was asked a total of two times.
Q: Last time we found out about blogs, "what's next?"
This question is open to the whole room. What do you think will be next?
Q: The "sign this pledge" type of internet political campaign is very top down, how can we move to a bottom up model with citizens generating the ideas? This is another great top down question focusing on engagement.
This question is open to the whole room. What do you think will be next?
Q: I'd like to be able to get into voting machines and change stuff, but I don't have the time ...
Q: Poverty, thank you for bringing it back to the national agenda.
I'll leave it for a surprise. In this clip, Edwards reveals something to us about being a trial lawyer and politician. Charisma don't cut it. By which I mean that if someone can't establish enough credibility with their audience then MLK, JFK and FDR combined couldn't parlay a speech into support when it comes time to vote.
If the jury thinks you have credibility, then they'll follow that.
and they followed and followed and followed him because they wanted to go where he led them.
Elizabeth to Newsweek in 2004: "he wears well." I bet you there was an empirical relationship between the length of the trial and the amount of the award, the longer the trial the larger the judgment for the plaintiff.