How will blogging, podcasting etc impact future elections?

Given the growing prevalence, especially among >25 year-olds, of amateur media/journalism in the form of blogs, podcasts, myspace, video webcasts (You Tube, iTunes etc), Live Journal etc etc etc it seems likely that many of our future political power-brokers currently maintain blogs (or something akin).

The political climate is inarguably contentious with every nook of public servants’ lives open for analysis and ridicule. Consider all the mileage that Rove, Moore, Novak, Stewart, Coulter, Carville etc reap from an errant sound bite or ancient article. Now consider our future Moore/Coulters armed with an insensitive blog post written by Candidate X about, say, the Holocaust. Or a Democrat who appeared anti-affirmative action in a podcast. Or a Supreme Court nominee appearing in a lurid webcast.

Certainly our current cast of characters have acknowledged skeletons in their closets (Byrd, Pres. Bush to name a few) but it seems to me something altogether different to have an actual [potentially offensive] article written by someone, or video of them involved in some embarrassing act.

Will we be forced to lower our [totally unrealistic] standards? Will it engender greater harmony in the form of showing the public that, yes, Yalies are knuckleheads when they’re 18, too? Or will it just fuel the acrimony?

That’s actually an intriguing question. I fear that the answer is that it will shift us towards candidates who are even more dull. One hundred years ago, Chesterton wrote: “For fear of the newspapers, politicians are boring, and eventually they are too boring for the newspapers.” His point was that the more carefullly the press scrutinizes every minor detail of politicians’ statements, the more politicians will respond by retreating to rote, predictable statements that leave no grounds for controversy. Our politicians are boring enough already, and the usual crowd of chatterers savagely attack any leader who refuses to conform to the standards. For instance, they’re rabid in going after Howard Dean. Yet the only unique point about Dean is that he’s willing to speak without first running his words past fifteen advisors and ten focus groups.

By the time these people are running for office, the people their age will be used to the idea that everyone has skeletons in their…well, not even their closets if it’s all on the internet. And who’s going to be the influential press by then? It might still be the mainstream media, or it might be whatever evolves out of the blogosphere.

One arena that blogging will impact is the National Convention. In the network anchor era, conventions were criticized as being basically a PR stunt, a political spectacle. It’s not just about the speeches and the platform anymore.

Bloggers will probably be given as much if not more priority as the press. I can see them given blogger credentials in future national conventions. Think about it. How much will the political parties benefit by having them writing from their experiences on the convention floor, their impression of the speech, and the other things you can only get by being there. It will greatly impact elections.

It’s already happened.

37 people were given press credentials as bloggers (independent…that number doesn’t include those blogging for news organizations) at the last Democratic National Convention in 2004. (cite)