The last one hundred years of political communication in America has had two watershed moments. The first was the coming of television into the process. Those that heard Nixon debate Kennedy on the radio thought that Nixon had won easily.
Those that saw the event on television made Kennedy President.
We are living through the second moment as the two worlds of modern politics collide. And it's come as a shock to legacy operatives who were born, and raised and lived and won elections in a world that is flat out gone.
Not just altered, or different, but gone gone.
The ultimate impact of new media, blogs and YouTube, instant messaging and BlogTalkRadio, is a complete destruction of traditional roles and functions of the political process - not to mention the removal of media barriers that once shielded politicians.
Five years ago, Chuck Hagel votes against his own resolution, no one knows. Now, the world knows, in real time as the vote is cast. And his credibility as a 'maverick' is gone.
Citizen journalists and citizen broadcasters have different rules, ethics and ways of fucking talking. Just ask John Edwards who is discovering that his bloggers blogged like bloggers. He should celebrate it, not condone their dismissal. He wanted a blogger, he got a blogger. End of story.
And you know what? I l like our ethics, and our work relationships and our boundaries better. A lot better. In DC, you lie to someone's face as a matter of course. You actually will catch an old DC political operative in a direct lie and they don't care. I do. We do. We fire forth with our opinions. Online, I laugh as Jerome and Markos go at each other. It's open. It's honest. It's real.
Watch the barriers continue to fall.
Watch newspapers fold. And websites rise.
Watch good content, good writing and good thinking get rewarded, whether it's from a editorial desk of a newspaper or laptop on a beach. I am much more interested in Christy Hardin Smith's opinion of the Libby trial than I am some 'legal reporter' who never has tried a case.
Watch the 24 minute news cycle evolve into the 24 second world.
It's crumbling around us every day, every second. It's messy and ugly and it will change our world.
Then we will watch a new generation of politicians emerge who have a different reality - a reality that says I must be true to myself at all times because my true self will always ultimately be exposed. These are men and women who grasp a new reality and are part of it - not part of a crew that wants to try and co-opt it.
This is not an evolution, or a slight change on best practices, it is a complete revolution in how policy is created, how people are elected and held accountable.
The fact that the 2008 Campaign has started now is because the online community is here to sustain the debate. It's as simple as that. And ultimately, this new reality will be to all of our great benefit.
No more racists to be exposed in the halls of the Senate because racists can no longer get there.
No more pedophiles in the halls of the Congress because pedophiles can no longer get there.
No more hypocrites.
But buckle up. Just as radio and newspaper didn't hand the baton over to television without a fight, so too will the legacy world hold tight - but they can't hold on forever.
I guarantee it.