The First Election of the Digital Age

An interesting thought struck me today as I was reading my twitter feed:

This is the first New Zealand general Election where the internet is a major player.

Sure, Obama famously engaged with Twitter in 2008 and 2012, but it’s the internet, online activists, and the revelations contained in emails between Government ministers and hate filled attack bloggers that are making this election truly interesting.

Much as National will despise it, this election campaign for them will be remembered as the one where toxic Whale Oil corroded their comfortable laid back image and derailed their #BrandKey strategy.

The rise of the Internet party seemingly out of nowhere, potentially to engage a new demographic of people previously less likely to vote, could probably not have happened even one election cycle ago, as millennials are now reaching voting age, and are seeing how government policy affects their lives directly.

Other bloggers pointed out that Waiheke’s last Local Board election was the Facebook election.

The internet allows anyone with a connection and an opinion to be a publisher, and provides the space for time poor people who may not be able to attend many public meetings to discuss policies and ideas. Of course, that openness allows for ugliness to spread as well, such as Cameron Slater’s Whale oil and its local Waiheke counterpart, but now Kiwis, traditionally shy about expressing opinions, are becoming more engaged and vocal, and this is a good thing for democracy.

I think that the internet as a major player in democracy is here to stay. And I for one welcome that.

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