Amazing. Another disruptive production from the man who told pundits they were hurting America and who helped rally 200k+ people show up and say, “Hey, stop acting so crazy.”

The fact that this debate was possible is a testament to the democratization of media and the crowd funding power of an engaged, internet-savvy community. 

Yet, I was surprised to see how the participants, both Stewart and O'Reilly portrayed the internet. Stewart seemed to attribute the radicalization of popular discourse, at least partially, to the ability the Internet affords people to choose their own filters. Less surprisingly, O'Reilly’s advised viewers to get off the Internet and go outside.

What about the 47% video, and how that was only made possible by a service like Youtube and a commenter(!) on an Internet news rag? I may be mistaken, but I’m inclined to believe that a main stream news outlet would never have run with that story for fear of losing access during the rest of the campaign.

The internet is not polarizing American political discourse. It’s enabling it, and discourse is just the first step. Soon we will see political engagement online grow from participating in a conversation to organizing in a more traditional sense.

O’ Reilly said he expects to see a 3rd party arise in the US in the near future. I agree, and I hope its like the German Pirate Party (in it form if not its function).

The German Pirate Party with a policy of extreme transparency and using tools like Liquid Democracy have made huge strides in the Berlin city government as well as federal elections. They are an early example of how web enabled tools can lead to a more informed and active constituency, and eventually better outcomes.

There is an opportunity in the United States for similar tools to bring a disruptive, 3rd party to prominence.

All it will take is a spark, some event that forces a community–and not necessarily the diehard internet denizens–to respond. I don’t know what that event will be: a stolen election, another economic shock, something else entirely. But what I do know is that the response will be organized online, and who ever has the tools ready will have provided the digital infrastructure to our new national, political institutions.

On Stewart v O'Reilly and the importance of the Internet