Monday, July 23, 2007

Everyone Doesn't Have YouTube, Didja Know?

The Democrats usually have my sympathies, and I am very hopeful that the political philosophy that embraces public service, and that quaint concept "of the people, by the people, and for the people" will be returned to power in time to keep this country from disaster. Therefore, I am sorry to say that tonight's debates leave me cold not just because CNN is playing god in them, but because they assume anyone, anywhere, can watch them.

There is a growing segment of households in this country that cannot have all the goodies. The expenses of having a place to live, getting to work, clothing the kids, feeding the family, and the occasional emergency are the total load they can afford. Our luxuries of iPhones, instant internet access, pagers, are beyond the necessities they can afford.

I have always thought it was snotty to think that telephone polls represent total American opinions, because they can only be conducted by landline phones. An increasing number of the very mobile underclass are dependent on mobile phones or employment offices' answering services.

Today a close look at the Democrats' CNN debate site, Charleston, S.C., turned up a large community that will not be able to participate in this 'public debate'. They don't have YouTube access, don't have the highspeed cable connection.

Less than a mile and a half from the Citadel, the site of the Democratic presidential debate tonight, sits Cooper River Courts, a public housing project. Forget the Web. Never mind YouTube, the debate's co-sponsor. Here, owning a computer and getting on the Internet (through DSL or cable or Wi-Fi) is a luxury.

"I am low-income and computers are not low-income," says Marcella Morris, sitting on the front step of her apartment building on a sweltering day last week.
"At one level, the YouTube debate shows that the Web has really become a centerpiece of American political culture," adds Lee Rainie, director of Pew Internet. "At another level, it also shows that the debate is not for everybody. It's certainly not available to all Americans."

That is especially true at Cooper River Courts, where Tiara Reid, 14, in her jeans shorts and pink striped top, runs up and down the complex asking friends if anyone wants to go the library. Finally her mom, Jossie, who works at a deli, drives her and a neighbor's daughter. With school out and without Internet access at home, the library is the only place where she can go on the Web -- for a maximum of two hours a day. Says Tiara: "It's 10 minutes to get to the library if someone drives you. It's 15 minutes if you take the 30 bus. It's about 30 minutes if you walk." On the library's second floor, she folds herself up on a chair and updates her MySpace profile, sends e-mails on her Yahoo! account and, if there's time, surfs

These are the very people who need to elect to our highest office some one to represent them. These are the very people who have been robbed and abused by the present executive branch in its total lapdance for the corporations and the extremely rich. They need to be in touch and their voices need to be heard.

Town meetings are prevalent in New England, they're a wonderful way of getting everyone involved, and giving everyone a voice. Wouldn't a city like Charleston - or, closer, Dallas - be increasing democracy exponentially by providing public forums using YouTube to connect to real debates, real events. It's a thought, maybe one way of getting the people involved in their government who have the highest risk level if it continues being the property of the privileged.

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Anonymous Nora said...

That's a flaw of the whole internet-based campaigning. For people who have access, at home or through work, it's a way to become a part of the system, to make your voice heard, to feel that you're making an impact. For people who don't have access, it's just another barrier between them and the government.

I work in our local library, which is right next door to the senior housing and the public housing (my city has all the public housing for half the county, but that's another issue) projects. From the moment the library opens, there isn't a computer connected to the internet that's not in use, and patrons are limited to an hour and a half per day.

There has to be a way to connect everyone who wants to be a part of the political system to it. I like your idea of the town meeting.

12:00 PM  
Blogger shrimplate said...

We could very easily outfit every household in the United States with a computer and spread wi-fi throughout most of our cities and towns, but we have leaders who would rather piss away our money on a stupid war.

10:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Send them encouragement on their myspace, Ruth!

Become an inspiration.

4:00 AM  

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