Just as the Internet is fundamentally disrupting retail and service economics and is re-shaping every facet of our social media relationships and interactions, so to is it beginning to address our broken political system.
I’ve long been a proponent of leveraging the engagement and organizing power of online communications to offer the American people a louder voice and more choices in national elections. The stranglehold the two majority parties have placed on the political process is sapping our political souls and taking our country to the brink of financial disaster — and the Republicans and Democrats seem more interested in playing politics and seeking narrow partisan advantage instead of figuring out how to find common-ground solutions to the big problems facing America. With so many big issues to address, with so much angst and anger at the system and so clear a need and desire for shaking the foundations of elections it seems we’re at an inflection point where some core element of the body politic is about to be altered.
In 2012, there will be a third, centrist candidate on the ballot in all 50 states who will have won the nomination via a secure, verifiable online voting selection process conducted by an organization called Americans Elect (full disclosure: I’m on the Americans Elect national advisory board).
The American people will be given a viable third option for president and vice-president that can force the two majority parties to appeal to the vast majority center of the American electorate — or risk failing miserably. This process will also showcase just how far and how fast the internet has come in a short amount of time in weaving its way into the fabric of modern communications.
I was struck by the increasing collisions of politics, voting and the internet this week by this article in Politico discussing the use of the iPad for disabled voters in Oregon’s elections this past Tuesday (“Oregon’s Voters iHappy with iPads“). As technology and security catch up to each other and more and more elections happen online, the ramifications are potentially huge for how candidates and public affairs communicators run their campaigns. The shift from physical polling places towards elections by mail will eventually give way to vote by iPad. And it’s not altogether clear what that will mean for strategic and tactical campaigning in the future. Effective social media, SEO, inbound marketing strategies will soon supercede direct mail, paid television advertising and phone banking as viable tactics for the modern campaigner.
Anyone thinking of running for office or pushing a ballot measure or public affairs-oriented education campaign had better start thinking long and hard about how to compete and win on the digital political battlefield — starting with having an effective digital dialogue with their constituents.