Perhaps you were one of the 76 million people who viewed, in one week, the documentary/infomercial produced by the NGO, “Invisible Children,’” regarding Joseph Kony and the atrocities he has committed in Uganda and South Sudan. As I watched the number of “hits” on YouTube grow, I realized I was not just learning about Joseph Kony, I was witnessing the growing power of the Internet to spread a message. It was not only that more than 76 million people now know who Joseph Kony is, but that the costs of reaching all those viewers was negligible. The implications are mind blowing.
There are three groups of people who must now realize that their world is changing very rapidly:
Politicians—I have commented before on the weakness of our democracy, the two-party system, the “professional politicians,” the power of incumbency, the obstacles to voting, and the influence of money. Never has a politician produced an ad, given a speech, or written an essay that has been read or viewed by 76 million people in one week. Politicians spend tens of millions of dollars on advertising hoping someone will watch. It’s the only game they know, and they owe their soul to those providing the money to support their advertising campaign. Going forward we may actually see independent candidates with “new ideas,” “leadership qualities,” and “character” getting their message across to voters without having to raise hundreds of millions of dollars.
Those Who Buy Politicians—It is ironic that the Super PACs came along at this time, enabling the rich and powerful to increase their influence over the outcome of elections. They are pouring millions of dollars into a medium that is outdated. Being a perpetual optimist, I believe this may be the beginning of the end for those buying votes and politicians. Maybe they will just be “rich,” not “rich and powerful.”
The Media—All that money being spent on advertising is a huge source of revenue that will dry up. The profit driven media’s influence over the electoral process will be greatly diminished. The Internet has demonstrated that you can reach a vast audience without spending a lot of money.
The future looks very bright thanks to the Internet which is providing a path back to a democracy, and a government “by the people and for the people.”