We need a new kind of political web site, independently maintained, that crosses party lines.
This web site would be apart from, and independent of, individual candidate pages...a place where candidates and voters would be urged to ask and answer questions directed at the candidates; where candidates would debate one another, their cross-aisle opponents, and the voters.
During the election cycle of 1996 The Arizona Daily Star’s StarNet launched a web site called “Election 96.” It was basically the work of seven volunteers working with the blessing of StarNet’s Robert Cauthorn.
The volunteers were Democrats, Republicans, A Libertarian and Independents. We were all starry-eyed about the capacity of the internet to transform politics. “Election ‘96” would be a place where local candidates would have their own sites, where letters and comments could be publicly posted to candidates and where the candidates’ answers would appear.
We were not just ahead of the curve…there was no curve. We either failed to convince candidates of the usefulness of this sort of public presence, or we convinced them and they were very uncomfortable with the notion of too much uncontrolled contact with constituents or their opponents
No one wanted to enter into a public debate with their opponents or the voters. And no one wanted these exchanges to be part of a public record. (The one exception was Barbara LaWall, who was then locked into a tough primary contest.) The few candidates who did come on board had merely a passive presence…stating a position, asking for donations, urging support. In other words they had the beginnings of what we have today: One way web sites.
You can send today's candidates an e-mail, or make a donation, but there is no way to post a public complaint, criticism, or compliment and read the candidate’s public answer. There is no place for a public debate between candidates.
I understand that no candidate wants to loft his or her own web site and then find s/he is giving time to the other guy. That’s why we need a new kind of political web site, on the model of “Election ‘96” and we have to tell all candidates that the voters want to hear from them, and hear them debate one another.
Look at the sites for Giffords, Graf, and Latas