Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Political Connections

Earlier today I was going through the daily deluge of emails in my GVSU in box. One in particular caught my eye:

An invitation from Congressman Pete Hoekstra to join his LinkedIn network.

This gives new meaning to the notion of political connections.

Used to be you only saw your elected official on your porch in an election season or in a parade on a holiday. Now new media is enabling new politics, new ways of being connected.

Some people roll their eyes when we academics talk about concepts like the "public sphere" and its importance to "deliberative democracy." But it is as pragmatic as it is idealistic--enabling fluid conversations among citizens and between people and politicians is healthy for democracy. The public sphere, or forum for civic dialogue, was originally pubs and coffee houses. The news media eventually, theoretically, filled that role. But many scholars have despaired that the public sphere is not a true and open forum. But new media gives us new hope.

I accepted the invitation.

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