Posted on | May 30, 2010 | No Comments
Barack Obama’s success in harnessing the power of the World Wide Web in order to finance his presidential campaign opened many eyes on the key role played by the Internet and information technology in politics. More than an advantage for savvy candidates, these technologies hold the potential of becoming fundamental and essential constituents of healthy democracies.
Let’s start by fundraising – isn’t it the sinews of war? Canadians on the whole have been disillusioned with successive financing scandals. Using current technology it would be easy to build databases on donations to political parties, databases which could be proactively monitored and linked with infrastructures contracts, for example. Do you fear a drop in donations? It will be up to each party to be creative and get the cash necessary to its operations from a wider array of voters.
How? Maybe, has Obama has done, by suggesting a real social contracts and new values, instead of hiding behind the usual list of preconceived lukewarm leftovers from previous campaigns. They could go further still and use all the available resources on the web in order to maximize the impact of fundraising campaigns. Using online social networks and the information they have gathered on users, it is possible for anyone to send a targeted advertisement to each voter according to their behaviour, values and financial means.
This would shift the focus of modern politics on its most important participant: the citizen. Optimistically we could see this as a way to reintegrate, to enliven him or her and to dispel the ambient cynicism. It could also have a major impact on current lobbying practices, gearing them towards citizens as well. We can easily imagine an iPhone app that allows NPO to send you information on any given subject (say, abortion, gun control, environment, etc.) and then allow you to forward your thoughts on the matter instantaneously to your elected representative, according to your place of residence.
These are only ideas that of course would not guarantee a perfectly efficient democracy, but could at least insure increased involvement from all citizens.