Joe Klein has a great article in at Time: Pssst! Who’s behind the decline of politics? [Consultants.] Here’s how he starts, and I found what followed fascinating.
On the evening of april 4, 1968, about an hour after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, Robert F. Kennedy responded with a powerfully simple speech, which he delivered spontaneously in a black neighborhood of Indianapolis. Nearly 40 years later, Kennedy’s words stand as an example of the substance and music of politics in its grandest form and highest purposeto heal, to educate, to lead. Sadly, his speech also marked the end of an era: the last moments before American public life was overwhelmed by marketing professionals, consultants and pollsters who, with the flaccid acquiescence of the politicians, have robbed public life of much of its romance and vigor.
Klein contrasts the extraordinary impact of the words Robert Kennedy created on-the-spot, with the pre-packaged, sterilised forms of policitcal discourse we get today. And he ends with a plea for some kind of return to a less dehydrated politics.
For me, that’s the potential of Web 2.0, to allow us a return – in politics and elsewhere – to more spontaneous forms of interaction, away from the broadcast, one-size bores all equally model.
Thanks to Jerry Kail for sending me the article.