I have a theory, and, as we beging to line up speakers for YKC 07, I’d like your feedback.
I believe that technology will both reward and demand authenticity from candidates, and what people want are candidates brave enough to convey their values as a vision. I also believe that our YearlyKos Convention both rides and perpetuates this wave of authenticity, so understanding how it works will be a powerful advantage for the netroots.
First, though, two disclaimers:
- YearlyKos Convention does not endorse candidates, so just because I link to a clip or we invite someone to speak, don’t mistake that for an endorsement. We are a forum bringing together motivated people with ideas. Sometimes those people are politicians or candidates.
- I’m not personally going to decide on who to support until the last possible moment. I want to give all candidates as much time as possible to impress me...or not. So, don’t even bother to accuse me or YKC of bias. You will be met with much eyerollong.
Onward to three examples (Gore, Edwards, Clark)...
A few weeks ago CNN noted a change in the way Al Gore has been presenting himself. Check out this CNN clip with Al Gore the non-politician.
We see the passionate Al Gore, authentically addressing an issue dear to his heart, the environment
There's much discussion about whether the blogosphere is ideology driven, but that conversation based on what I believe is a false assumption of the blogosphere as a new kind of constituency, when, more simply, it is a collection of people who use online tools to educate themselves about important political and government matters. Individual ideas are important, but with so much information threatening to overload thoughtful voters, what is more important is having a big idea, a vision, and the authenticity to rise above the noise and clearly communicate it.
Now watch this video of Wes Clark.
Not only does his rhetoric communicate dissatisfaction with the status quo, but also, being able to view the entire video, we see that he has a vision about the way things should be. With more than a sound bite, we see his determined passion, and we understand what he means beyond mere words.
People vote for people, not issues, and so consultants advise candidates to talk about values. Religion is a familiar framework for values, and sound bite politics has rewarded Conservatives who cynically use religious overtures as a substitute for discussing values. Meanwhile, Progressives don't have such a convenient catchall to hide behind and so are accused of not standing for anything.
But look at this video of John Edwards in New Orleans.
This time, we see a passionate John Edwards honestly moved by the tragedy of New Orleans. And is there any doubt about the values he is communicating here?
Progressive candidates can better express their values through authenticity. The growth of Internet technologies is turning information into an unlimited, instant resource and facilitating the complex dialogue required for an authentic communication of values. The election of candidates like Jon Tester and Jim Webb, and the defeat of incumbents like Rick Santorum and George Allen suggest that authenticity is already being rewarded while stripping away the thin veneer of false piety and self-righteousness that for too long has enabled the worst characters in Washington to exploit their positions and the American people.
While there will always be a place for well rehearsed talking points, youtube and similar technologies will surely catch more and more candidates off script, and the ability to convey authenticity will not only make candidates more attractive to voters, but will also make it easier to forgive gaffs.
This is good. People vote for people, and when given the chance, they will vote for who they believe has values most like their own. The inevitable requirement of authenticity will help voters understand each candidate's values and, in the end, give voters real choices in deciding whose vision is best for moving our country forward.
What other examples of authenticity can you cite? Who would you like to see at our convention? Please link to video below.
Of course, none of this can happen without your support. We are a community netroots project, and what we are able to accomplish depends on you.
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