Two really significant domestic political items caught my eye last month because I think they might be a harbinger of a bigger trend to come: The use of YouTube as a way for candidates to cheaply and widely make major campaign announcements, decisions, policy proposals, etc. without having to rely on paid television advertisements or grovel for radio/TV airtime.
The first was the Boston mayoral race where Boston City Councilor Michael Flaherty first announced his bid for office on YouTube (he then took it back and then re-took that back, which is quite confusing but not the bigger point here).
The second comes out of Virginia, where Attorney General Bob McDonnell announced his resignation from that office for the purpose of full-time campaigning for governor via YouTube.
If you combine the increasing use of things like YouTube by everyday citizens with the fact that fewer people are subject to TV commercials (thanks to things like DVDs, TiVO, and now the gaggle of legitimate and not-so-legitimate Internet sites that let you watch your favorite shows online), what might happen is a political trend where big money (and, therefore the two big parties) become less relevant.
I admit, that's a kind of shooting-from-the-hip brand of analysis. I would imagine things like posters, billboards, buttons, t-shirts, and the like still eat up a large amount of dough. But I would also bet that money otherwise spent on a 30-second spot during primetime TV could buy a whole lot of paraphernalia (or, better yet, not have to be raised at all).
All I know is that I expect to see more and more usage of free Internet media like Facebook and YouTube in the coming years, which may have the power to level the playing field somewhat in terms of who is able to make a viable run for political office and whose voice can be heard.