April 29, 2007
Mike Gravel struck a chord with bloggers because he stands for everything that politics in the United States today is not. For example, during the debate he made this comment about getting the nomination:
What will make a difference in this campaign is not money, it's not celebrity,it is a person who is prepared to tell the American people the truth. The people are fed up and as president I will do a 180 and move this country in the opposite direction.
My experiences with politics would normally tell me that this is ridiculous, money and fame are just about the only things that matter in elections today. Nobody from California should be able to keep a straight face when they say that Arnold Schwarzenegger was the most qualified candidate for the governors office, for example. Nevertheless, the 2008 election will be the first presidential race since the advent of Web 2.0. Ten years ago a candidate like Gravel wouldn't have had a prayer of making it past the Iowa Caucus; sure the internet existed, but information moved slowly and too many people didn't understand the subtleties of the web.
CNN, who is scheduled to host the next Democratic primary debate, has not invited Mike Gravel to join in the fun. Petitions demanding that CNN let Gravel speak are making their way to the top of digg and reddit and links to email CNN are posted everywhere. Whether or not Gravel gets invited to the CNN debate in June is going to be the first real litmus test in determining how powerful Web 2.0 is in determining political outcomes. Howard Dean exploited the pre-web 2.0 internet in 2003 and 2004 and barring the noise he made, almost got the nomination. The internet is the only way to bring real democracy back to this country, so that we can start to elect candidates not because of their celebrity status or bank account, but because of what they stand for.