LIVEBLOGGING: Civic Engagement and the Youth Vote in the 2008 Elections

We’re at the Civic Engagement and the Youth Vote in the 2008 Elections cohosted by Kennedy School of Government Institute for Politics and Berkman Center.

Our own John Palfrey is moderating the discussion with,

Jesse Dylan, HopeActChange.org and Director/Producer of the will.i.am “Yes We Can” video

Wes Hill, co-Founder of HopeActChange.org

Ari Melber, The Nation Magazine

Jeff Frazee, National Youth Coordinator, Ron Paul 2008

Jesse Dylan: “Yes We Can” video went viral because people saw the power of Obama’s words and connected to the desire of change expressed

Ari Melber: With Internet, we have a completely new metrics of measuring political participation. Videos and social networking are like the “gateway drug” to getting politically involved.

Jeff Frazee: Facebook’s big limitation – inability to message mass users. Using Facebook to directly communicate with campus leaders on the Ron Paul campaign. Logged on to Facebook to get latest news on the campaign.

AM: Ron Paul’s campaign used creative ways of involving people in the campaign – “a collective, bottom-up project” – beyond just donating funds. McCain has failed to use SNS to engage people. But, successful in engaging conservative blogosphere (weekly bloggers conference call, talks through differences).

John Palfrey: What’s the story going to be like in campaign 2012? And what is the thing we should each to as an intervention to make a positive story happen?

JD: It doesn’t take money to reach the people you want to

JP: Is it real or a myth that young people are more able to take advantage of this medium?

JD: I don’t think young people are particularly set to benefit more. Young people are voting more because they need change.

JP: So each of us has more power to do something because we’re connected to the net?

Wes Hill: That’s the message with HOPEACTCHANGE.org Message of the week::action of the week

JP: Video has taken a more important aspect here. Is there something beyond video?

JD: It’s about telling stories – video is easier to watch than reading – the web is an opportunity to tell stories in a non-linear way. By 2012, will be more ways to tell stories, not just through narrative video.

JF: Some of the most powerful media was not initiatied by campaign, but by individuals who rose to the top. Advice for next time: “See what’s out there, listen to the people, allow people to have some ownership of the campagain”

JP: Continued youth involvement in politics and civic engagement?

AM: The counter culture is the culture. The media has failed – this has created real receptivity to counter narratives. With the platforms set up, it’s game on.

JP: Game on – opening questions up to the floor.

Diane Tucker: Is there anything to be learned from Huckabee experience? Bulk of his work came from youth from outside his campaign?

JF: Ron Paul and Obama groups the biggest on college campuses.

AM: From data, huge fissure among democrats: youth for Obama, older voters for Clinton. Didn’t see same split for republicans.

Q: While Internet is powerful, real-space networks more powerful. How has f2f network changed?

JP: Is this an internet story? How much is this change really due to technologies?

JD: Real story is change. People want to see change in the country.

AM:  Moveon.org is a largely online network. Facebook is totally different – grounded in real-space identification. Real people, real network – very potent for political action.

Q: Is Obama campaing not just getting youth involved based on exciting soundbites? Is this not just superficial?

JD: Obama has said more than soundbites.

AM: If we are heading towards video, which focuses more on mode of saying rather than content of saying, this is problematic for democracy. This may lead to the beautiful people having to much power. BUT, what we are seeing on YouTube is not just soundbites – lots of people, especially young people are watching beyond the soundbite.

Vicki Nash: Youth vote may be happening in the US, what about the rest of the world? How much is this about American Exceptionalism?

JF: Technology is culturally neutral just like it’s politically neutral. Just a vehicle. [MS: what about the cultural bias inherent in technologies, largely coming out of Silicon Valley?]

VN: Can’t imagine Obama Girl in the UK

JD: Necessity to use the web is where the web will come in to play.

Q: Presidential campaign is the only time the whole nation comes together. What do you do with a national base and this energy of virtual community in our political system? (what happens in the down time)

JF: We need to localize politics. Identify city, state, congressional races to mobilize people for. Where can we effect change?

AM: Pick good fights with deadlines, villifiable opponents, and concrete goals. This is why climate change is hard to organize people for. Something more specific that people can get their head around.

JD: People connect to stories. There needs to be vision for people to respond.

Charles Nesson: How can I get a presidential candidate poker game to happen? The connection between real and virtual in terms of storytelling is so strong. You program something virtual and it becomes real. For eg, in the democratic party there needs to be a story of reconciliation. How do we make this story real?

JD: Hillary is Chagall (same picture every day), Obama is Picasso (different picture every day). Obama hasn’t been a great frontrunner.

CN: Would love to see my youtube video go viral. If Obama stand for change, he has the opportunity

Q: Is the openess of the internet really bring us further for democracy, or are the rules of the game just going to change, and the same players will learn to take advantage and manipulate the process?

Q: What about the participation gap? Disenfranchising those with out access?

Q: Young people get that online action has to mirror real space action, while older people are missing out on the interconnection of online and real space. Will this continue? What are implications?

AM: upsurge of youth vote is limited to educated youth. non-college educated youth does not enjoy this upsurge. Presidential campaigns are not incentives to spend money on this demographic.

JF: internet is breaking down bottleneck. free market of ideas will further democracy.

JD: outsider being able to be heard will just improve on the net.