Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Online Town Forum Recap

Last night, we tried something new.  Over about an hour, approximately 60 signed logged onto the CoverItLive chat room and either watched (vast majority) or asked me about state issues that were of concern to them.  I had very low expectations for this first Forum, but they were surely exceeded.  We had substantive conversation regarding detailed policy issues, which is an unfortunate rarity in the modern day campaign.

You can review the questions, my answers, and a few polls that we presented to the participants here.

Here are some observations:

In my attempts to reach and engage the "busy parent" (an archetype for those most alienated from participation by work/life/school obligations), I think 7:00 pm may have missed.  I think I may need to go about two hours later or try lunchtime. 

I was amazed that this attempt was not highjacked by opponents and/or those who want to make a farce out of the process.  Admittedly, I moderated the questions, but I never had to filter out a single question.

One thing I most appreciated about last night was the alternating focus of the hyper-specific (Delegate Scholarships) and the macro-scope (Small Business).  In my profession as an attorney, I need to be able to "think on my feet", but last night was a challenge.  It was important that I respond with complete honesty and conviction, but not be so brash that I provide an incomplete answer.  Every question made me want to ask that person out for coffee (particularly the question about paperless campaigns, which I have been thinking about ever since).

As the forum went on, I thought about how much I would like to engage currently serving officials in a platform like this.  It is one thing to have ideas for how you would like to see things done, but it is a much more informative experience to engage those doing it. 

Technology presents a set of tools.  It takes a motivated craftsman to create.  I know I'm not the only one who feels like politics and technology are about to converge in ways more substantive than electioneering and campaign data.  The problem is that running for office, and serving once elected, is a risk-averse pursuit.  If you want to see this kind of engagement, you need to help show that while it comes with risk, the ultimate outcome (a better engaged and informed base) is worth that risk.  Ultimately, I see all of the ills of politics (partisanship, political machines, uninformed electorate, etc.) wilting in the face of this new way of doing things.

That's all for today.  Have a great Wednesday doing what you love!