Power to the People

Not sure if you’ve seen the kerfuffle over this Anti-Target ad.

If you haven’t seen the short video clip, it’s worth a watch. I got quite a chuckle out of it.

Now before I start a flame war on the internet, let me preface this by saying I am not a political blog. In fact, I try hard to keep politics out of 20 Prospect, not just because there’s a million and one other places you can go to get hyperbole, and wild accusations, but frankly, because it bores me. There, disclaimer complete.

What I will say is that I 100% whole heartedly agree with the sentiment that Corporations should not be given the same rights as people. The fact that they are is nothing new. It’s been a fact of life for over 100 years in America. And despite a century of populist rhetoric, political parties of all stripes have yet to turn down the gravy train of coorporate giving.

As bloggers go, I’m not a big technology guy. In fact, I’m a bit of a Luddite. Albeit the worlds laziest Luddite. Some cases in point. My calculator died about 2 and a half years ago. It wasn’t anything fancy, just a freebie Texas Instruments calculator that I got while attending a training class. Until last week though, I have not replaced it. Instead for the past year I have scrabbled by using long division & multiplication. Let me tell you, after 20+ years of relying on a calculator, it took me a while to remember how to do it. I didn’t do this out of any moral, or political stand, or to make a statement. I just couldn’t see spending money on a device that I use less than 2 – 3 times a week. Plus, with computer spreadsheets, who really needs one? What eventually changed? In shopping for school supplies with the kids, I saw a $1 calculator in a bin at the store. So after almost 3 years, I have finally replaced it.

Pretty pathetic huh?

Wait till I tell you that my watch battery ran out last month. So far, I have yet to miss it. Laziness can sometimes be wonderfully enlightening if you let it.

So, what does any of that have to do with the above clip? Well, no, I didn’t buy the calculator at Target. (Although we buy lot’s of other stuff there.) What I am getting at is the role of technology in our life. In this case, our political life.

There’s no shortage of overheated hyperbole about technology freeing us, and transforming the way we live. I tend to think it’s a bit overstated for the most part, as my experiences with watches and calculators have shown, life goes on even without the most basic of technical contrivances. However, one area that I am a little fascinated with is the use of info technology like flip camera’s, and youtube, to influence political debate.

Like the Target case, these sort of grass roots guerilla tactics can give regular schmoes the potential to have a voice in the political debate. Something sorely lacking in our oligarchy. Let’s face it, no matter what you think of Target contributing $ to the campaign of an anti-gay marriage candidate, you can’t deny that Target’s voice and influence in the election is far stronger than your own voice. So maybe, just maybe, these technologies can offer a way to steal a little power back in this supposed democracy in which we live.

Of course, as this other local kerfuffle highlights, political parties themselves have coopted these same technolgies for their own purposes. In this case constantly monitoring opposing candidates looking for “gotcha moments”. I wasn’t aware of the extent of this activity, but I can’t say it surprises me. Such is the life of the Borg, it assimilates everything to it’s own purposes.

Now, full disclosure, the Anti-Target ad is not the work of a group of concerned individuals but a highly orchestrated media campaign by Moveon.org. As political an organization as you can find. And one that doesn’t seem to have a problem with corporations contributing to the campaigns of candidates that they support. (I know, hypocrisy among political action organizations. Amazing. Who’da thunk?)

Anyway, those were my thoughts on the subject. I’d like to say I had some grandiose solution to our current oligarchy, but I don’t. Money = Power. Always has, and always will. I know, those are just the kind of shocking insights that keep you coming back to 20 Prospect. 😉


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