It seems nowadays that everyone and their dog has a blog (oh dear, I just rhymed). Perhaps originally an outlet for the mundane details of life, blogs are increasingly outlets for a range of more serious topics: political declarations and acusations of unfair governance, explanation of medical treatments and pharmaceuticals, and widespread discussion of crime, corruption, violence, and other ills of the world.
It is not necessarily a strange shift, then, to see Malaysian politicians reversing their policy on blogging. While in the past many incumbents have seen bloggers as ‘the enemy’ who called their decisions into question, a drop in public support has the ruling party singing a different tune. Now all candidates for youth positions MUST have a blog before running for national posts. It seems like a reasonable shift – if you want to work with youth, you have to be able to set up a blog, manage a Facebook profile, and speak their language. With the current speed of technology, you have to be able to adapt almost as quickly as their malleable little brains are doing. While it seems that someone in the National Front coalition should’ve figured out early on that they could use the same tools to gain public approval as rivals used to gain it for themselves, I guess it took losses in a general election to really drive the point home.
The next obvious question for me is how our own politicians are keeping up with the fads. Obama, Clinton, and McCain all have their own websites aimed at getting their platforms out there, spreading news about what they have been doing, and generally keeping in good contact with their supporters. I think that’s great – keep the information highway going. All three also include blogs as a part of those websites. Of course, while I would like to get the occasional post from the candidates themselves to get a sense of their personal voice, all that I saw in my quick scan were written by other members of their campaign. Alas. Perhaps someday we’ll have a White House blog with actual words from the actual President. McCain also has a social networking site on his website called McCainSpace, which I thought was a little cheesy, but also kinda cool. It’s definitely a step in the right direction as far as connecting with younger voters.
So, where do I see this whole thing going? More direct pressure of the public on politicians. More open communication and information passing on candidates and elected officials. Widespread discussion and observation of every detail of political life. While I think most of this is for the good, I also don’t always trust my fellow voter/citizen/blogger. If we swing too far the wrong way, it’s mob rule. Don’t really think I’m up for that.