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Too bad there aren't any.



You could run for office. Would you appoint cronies?


You could run, but how to get the funding to be an actual contender?


Oh, c'mon, that's just an excuse. In fact, it's the same excuse people use to avoid entrepreneurship.

Money helps you run a campaign, just like it helps you run a business. But sometimes the scrappy, bootstrapped startup still beats the big entrenched enterprise. That's why we're on HN, right?


Kind of ironic that you're making this statement on this thread. The Net was indeed supposed to democratize the world, including, presumably, politics. A candidate would then be able to run a bootstrapped, grassroots campaign.

But, that didn't happen, and for reasons very similar to the subject: entrenched interests use their money to continue advancing their own agenda through the media, other corporate gatekeepers, and regulatory capture.

It will soon take $1B to run for the presidency, and about as much to pay ISPs in order to launch a competitive streaming company.

So, you might just have it backwards: the current rules have to change in order to allow for a viable bootstrapped candidate. This, instead of such a candidate miraculously making her way to success, then changing the rules.


Who says it costs $1B to run for President? Obama didn't exactly win the 2008 primary by being the rich establishment candidate. He wasn't personally wealthy. He did have a very internet savvy campaign staff, though...

Why don't you ask Linda McMahon how much it costs to buy a Senate seat? Not only did she spend tens of millions, she lost to a guy who is still paying back his student loans.

There's nothing stopping a candidate today from using the Net to spread their political message and, as odious as the alleged FCC changes are, they won't really change that.


>Obama didn't exactly win the 2008 primary by being the rich establishment candidate.

You may be confusing personal wealth with campaign wealth.

Obama raised nearly a quarter billion during the primaries and 3/4 billion overall in 2008. Sure, he used the Net to raise a significant amount, but the extent to which small donors fueled his fundraising was greatly exaggerated [0].

In any case, Obama was certainly rich as a candidate, and wildly so.

>Not only did she spend tens of millions, she lost to a guy who is still paying back his student loans.

Certainly, no one is saying that the candidate who raises the most money always wins. On average, however, money matters--big time, and has an outsized impact on our electoral process. This is why so many incumbents confess that they spend an inordinate amount of their time on fundraising.

>There's nothing stopping a candidate today from using the Net to spread their political message

Well, there's nothing stopping them from trying any moreso than a startup can try to market online without a budget. In practice, it is insanely difficult to be heard and/or gain momentum in the political world without a ton of cash to spend on exposure. And, rulings like Citizens United exacerbate that problem.

Yes, there will be outlier underdogs who miraculously scratch out a win from time to time. But, the Net is nowhere near the democratizing force it could be. It is trumped handily by plain ol' cash. And, it shouldn't take a miracle for an otherwise better-qualified candidate to win an election simply because of a financial disadvantage.

>as odious as the alleged FCC changes are, they won't really change that.

Apologies for the miscommunication. I am not saying that the FCC changes will prevent candidates from trying to use the Net. I was simply noting that both our political process and the FCC have been co-opted by entrenched interests.

[0] http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/24/study-obamas-s...


> So, you might just have it backwards

Not really. It's a chicken-and-egg problem, not causality. This is a problem that predates the concept of America. Monarchies addressed it by having a three-way tug-of-war between the monarch, the entrenched interests, and the masses, and American politics have tried very hard to ape that with a very powerful central executive.

With, you know. Predictable results.

Changing the rules won't actually make a difference, much respect as I have for Lessig's Rootstrikers' efforts. That is, as Colbert put it, rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenberg. The fundamental problem isn't that no one gets elected without spending oodles of cash; the fundamental problem is that oodles of cash have to be spent at all.

We live in an age where democracy requires marketing. That's the rule you need to change.

Not coincidentally, that's also the rule that makes free markets impossible.


Well, what I was trying to do was point out a bit of irony in the GP comment. Judging by your and eli's responses, obviously I wasn't successful. I'll give it another shot.

At a time when our political process is broken, full of cronyism, regulatory capture, and co-opting by moneyed interests, we get this new position from the FCC. The position itself is about giving those with money (e.g. Netflix) advantages on the Net. The Net, of all things, which was supposed to be a democratizing, equalizing force.

So, what did the GP say in response? "Hey, money doesn't matter. Scrappy bootstrapped campaigns can overcome!"

This, even while the very topic of this thread is moneyed interests' de-democratization of the single greatest potential tool for making scrappy, bootstrapped campaigns an actual possibility.

I mean, at what point do we consider that democracy is losing and money is winning?

>Changing the rules won't actually make a difference

>We live in an age where democracy requires marketing. That's the rule you need to change.

You're not going to change the need for candidates to communicate with the electorate, nor should we want that. Instead, you change the rules such that candidates simply do not have the money to spend, then you watch as the media, parties, candidates, and entire political process re-structure themselves to allow for viable candidates to be identified and subsequently engaged with the electorate.

Here's where the Net can truly be a democratizing force, and even moreso when combined with other media. There's no need for candidates to spend money on marketing. They are the story, and the media clamors endlessly to get their messages out.


> The Net, of all things, which was supposed to be a democratizing, equalizing force.

No, it wasn't. You were made promises, not by politicians, but by a powerless counterculture who spoke loudly and had no clout. There is nothing democratizing or equalizing about the Internet.

> I mean, at what point do we consider that democracy is losing and money is winning?

Well, I would have put it somewhere in the 19th century, but that's just me.

> You're not going to change the need for candidates to communicate with the electorate

Why not? Why does this need exist? We have the Internet now. There is no such need anymore.

Let me ask you a different question: why do we need to have any candidates whatsoever? What are they for? Or the more important question: what is a public office for? What is the purpose of that concept?

> Instead, you change the rules such that candidates simply do not have the money to spend, then you watch as the media, parties, candidates, and entire political process re-structure themselves to allow for viable candidates to be identified and subsequently engaged with the electorate.

If you don't subscribe to Rootstrikers, you are seriously out of touch. Unlike you, Lessig has actually been doing things along this line, and unlike you, he has some notion of how to build political capital.


>You were made promises, not by politicians, but by a powerless counterculture

No. The promises were made by the technology and its potential. But, you're reading my statement out of context anyway.

>We have the Internet now. There is no such need anymore.

Wait. So, you're now a representative of the powerless counterculture? You just said "there is nothing democratizing about the Internet. Now, you're hailing it as the solution to what is arguably the single biggest threat to democracy in U.S. politics today: money.

Make up your mind, man.

>what is a public office for?

Direct democracy has its place, but you're not seriously suggesting rule by referendum, right? I mean, I'm having trouble seeing any implied alternatives in your question that don't lead to utter silliness, so please feel free to make your point.

>If you don't subscribe to Rootstrikers, you are seriously out of touch

Says who? But, hey, color me seriously out of touch. If you put any stock in third party traffic analysis, I'm in good company (unfortunately). But, thanks for the pointer.

>Unlike you, Lessig has actually been doing things along this line, and unlike you, he has some notion of how to build political capital.

Awesome that you know me so well. I feel like we're old pals from way back. But, of course, your opinions of my capabilities in this area--even if accurate--have nothing to do with the merit of the statements to which you are responding. In fact, I'm trying to name all of the fallacies there: Appeal to authority? Red herring? False dilemma? Am I missing any?


> The promises were made by the technology and its potential.

Still bullshit. By this measure, the machine gun and the IED are also democratizing and equalizing forces. An armed society is a polite society, yeah? Technology amplifies. A pen makes it possible to communicate with someone you cannot be face-to-face with, but it still comes down to the way you formulate and express your ideas. A sword makes it possible to cut and stab in ways that your hand can't, but it's still your hand being raised against another.

If you want to invoke technology, then all technology is a "democratizing and equalizing force". And, while we're at it, all technology becomes a tool for elitism and oppression when it fails to be equally distributed. And is it ever, really equally distributed to begin with? You have to pay people a profit to receive internet. There is no possibility of equality there while wealth and income inequality remain significant.

> So, you're now a representative of the powerless counterculture?

"Representative" is going too far. How about we stick to calling me powerless, rather than give me credit for participating in an actual culture?

> Now, you're hailing it as the solution to what is arguably the single biggest threat to democracy in U.S. politics today: money.

Hahaha. No. But it's funny that you can't read. I'd certainly take advantage of the Internet as part of the solution, but I would also take advantage of the fact that we have bookbinding technology.

And money is not the biggest threat. Democracy? Doesn't exist in America. Not really. The media is right: we are a country ruled by elites. Those elites might be liberal or conservative, but they're not us. There is no government by the people, because the people don't give a shit. That's why Dubya went up and thought that getting some elections happening in Iraq would make democracy happen.

I repeat: The fundamental problem isn't that no one gets elected without spending oodles of cash; the fundamental problem is that oodles of cash have to be spent at all.

> Direct democracy has its place, but you're not seriously suggesting rule by referendum, right? I mean, I'm having trouble seeing any implied alternatives in your question that don't lead to utter silliness, so please feel free to make your point.

No, if you can't answer the question one way or another, then I have no point worth making. My ideas aren't coherent enough for people who don't already have the solid grounding in what democracy actually is. Which you demonstrably don't, because you keep saying that the Net will save democracy or something. Indeed, you can't seem to get your mind off it.

> But, of course, your opinions of my capabilities in this area--even if accurate--have nothing to do with the merit of the statements to which you are responding.

It's pretty convenient, then, that I wasn't responding to any of the statements you were making there, right? It's almost as if I was responding specifically to the section I quoted. I mean, it's great that you feel we're in high school debate club or something, but I graduated from high school a while back. I assume you did, too?

Here's a fallacy you missed: the fallacy fallacy.


>Still bullshit.

Really? Because immediately after you dismissed hopes that the Internet might be a force for democratization, you said the following in reference to candidates' corrupting (and incompatible with democracy) need for money:

"We have the Internet now. There is no such need anymore."

Were you thinking of something more democratizing than that?

The rest of that paragraph and the next are ridiculous strawmen.

>If you want to invoke technology, then all technology is a "democratizing and equalizing force".

That argument is just plain stupid. Are you being deliberately obtuse? Trolling? Or are you really that prone to committing such gaping logical fallacies?

FWIW, I didn't just "invoke technology". I referenced the Net.

>And money is not the biggest threat. Democracy? Doesn't exist in America. Not really. The media is right: we are a country ruled by elites

And who are the elites? The poor?

You know, this is pointless. Your entire comment is void of any introspection and is not even internally consistent. It just argues with itself. Worse, you sincerely can't seem to follow a thread. It's so bad that I really do hope that you are just trolling. But, in any case, I'll leave you to your "self-stimulation".




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