Monday, July 6, 2009

Patrick Murphy and Free Speech

"Money is the mother's milk of political campaigns," is probably one of the oldest, and truest, maxims of American political culture.

A candidate's ability to raise money is one of those great positive feedback loops, because the more money you've got in your war chest, the more you're going to seem like you're leading the pack. The more this perception can take hold, the better you're going to poll, which means more people take you seriously, and more donate, etc. Bob's your uncle, and let the circle be unbroken.

New Media runs against this grain, however. Whether we're talking Twitter, YouTube, blogs, or even e-mail, what all these have in common is that they're free for the user. (And yes, by the way, for many people, e-mail still legitimately counts as 'New Media.')

If television ads were king (as they may still be in a state or national race), a candidate forgoing the spending of money on his race, as Patrick Murphy is doing in his Lowell City Council bid this year, would immediately resign him to also-ran status come November. And although the trend points us towards higher and higher dollar amounts spent on political campaigns, there's part of me that imagines (hopes?) that a future turn away from traditional targets of campaign expenditures (TV ads before the days of DVR, TiVO, and Hulu, not to mention print media), could change the way money impacts races.

I checked Left in Lowell this weekend and caught this Video Clip put out by Murphy's campaign.

Even if things like YouTube might not affect a significant portion of Lowell voters, it still seems like low-budget video shorts are *worth it* in terms of costs v. potential benefits. For whoever's willing to listen, it's a chance to spell out who you are and what you're about in a concise, easily-transferrable and easily-preservable format.

For the record, Murphy is directing would-be donors to non-profit/charity organizations. He also did not fundraise during his 2007 Congressional bid as an Independent in the 5th CD race.

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