by Jim Naureckas
You’ve probably noticed that we live in a society where some people have a great deal of power, and most people have very little. And that this works out well for the few and not so well for the many.
This plays out in the political realm with the few using their power to support candidates who would maintain that power. In the past, we knew very little about these transactions, because the powerful also owned and/or funded almost all the outlets we got our information from. As a result, those outlets told us very little about which candidates were beholden to whose interests. When they did talk about candidates’ funding, such reports were inconspicuously placed and seldom amplified via commentary—thereby ensuring that few people outside the donor class were aware of who was doing the donating.
A funny thing happened in the 21st century: The development of digital technologies made it much cheaper to create and distribute information, via email, blogs, podcasts and social media. Though these technologies were largely developed by for-profit corporations for their own profit-seeking ends, they also enabled horizontal communication on a scale never before possible.
And this ability allows us to have conversations about politics that we’ve always needed and never have had until now. Part of the point of these conversations is that we can talk about the candidates we want to talk about, rather than the candidates corporate media have decided we should talk about. And another benefit of these conversations is that we can talk about the hitherto hidden transactions that would determine which candidates were “viable” and “electable.”
These discussions of candidates’ financial and policy histories can look like negativity—because it’s seldom good news when a line can be drawn between where politicians gets their resources and how they do their jobs. But the possibility of picking nominees based on who can best serve the interests of voters rather than donors is really one of the most positive developments in modern politics.