Weblogs ARE a tool in Politics

Dave Winer writes in his weblog about how political campaigns are not taking advantage of weblogging because they tend to only present points from one point of view – that of the campaign. He advocates inclusiveness and linking to all points of view. I think Dave is confusing politicking with running a political discussion site.

surprising to me, in a way, that weblogs have become such an important part of the early 2004 presidential campaign. I expect this campaign will take place more on the Web than it does on TV networks. That’s why I think candidates who use the Web to raise money for TV ads aren’t making enough of a bet on the Web, and are leaving the door open for those who do. But it must be hard to let go of a way of life. Politics has “always” worked that way, right? Anyway, it’s surprising when a vision comes true, no matter how strongly you felt it would.

In this piece I outline advice for people running campaigns in a world with weblogs. In the spirit of the Web, the advice is available to all. These are just my opinions. Your mileage may vary, and the advice may change as the campaign goes forward.

It seems to me that the key focus of any candidate’s website will naturally be to further their own point of view and to spread the message. I think discussion is a poor example for a political campaign, evangelizing or marketing would seem to be much closer in terms of aims. While I agree candidates should address their critics, if I were running a campaign site, I would want to ensure that a clear distinction was being made by the views of the candidate and the views of everyone else.

In many ways weblogging seems perfect for such a use specifically because it enables you to have one “prime” viewpoint (that of the weblog author) and clearly distinguishes that other people’s viewpoints (comments, trackbacks, etc.) are just that, the viewpoints of other individuals. It allows you to encourage discussion and community without losing control of your message, or creating confusion about the party line.