Make up Your Mind
Chapters 5 and 6 were perhaps the most interesting chapters that I have read in any book thus far in the course. It is no surprise due to my major and love for politics, but the concepts were very interesting.
While I was reading the chapters, I was watching the Cleveland mayoral debate between Frank Jackson and Jane Campbell. I do not vote in Cleveland, but I like to watch debates to see the way candidates answer certain questions and interact with one another. As I took a break between chapters I checked my email and found that I had an email from www.tedstrickland.com. He is my friend and Congressman who is running for Ohio governor. The email announced the creation of a blog on his site, so I immediately went to it and made a comment. After that, I went back to reading my book and then realized that I had just done what Manuel Castell discussed in his book. I had utilized technology to actively participate and engage in politics (via watching a televised debate and commenting on a blog). Castells talks about the way that technology opens the door to increased political activity and engagement and within an hour I had already done so in two different forms. My actions were proof of the increased availability of political information in today’s society.
This brings me to another point. This year and last year, I voted in the general election via absentee ballot. There were many names on the ballot that I didn’t recognize or know much about. The internet allowed me to search the candidate’s name to see their platform which I could base my vote upon. Without the internet, I would probably have asked my parents if they knew about the candidates, but I was able to find the information for myself.
There was a point made in the book that, “rather than strengthening democracy by fostering the knowledge and participation of the citizens, use of the internet tends to deepen the crisis of political legitimacy by providing a broader launching platform for the politics of scandal.” I do not agree with this statement and would like to hear some further support for this claim by the author. I do not understand how on one hand he can say that, “the internet offers extraordinary potential for the expression of citizen’s rights, and for the communication of human values” and “by broadening the sources of communication, it does contribute to democratization” and say completely the opposite on the other (quotes can be found on page 158 and 164.)
It is just very difficult for me to understand where he is coming from with these two very different statements which I feel contradict one another. Does anyone make sense of this? I wish he could explain, but maybe someone else can. Comments are appreciated.