Hillary Clinton kicked off her campaign this weekend in New Hampshire, and spoke today at the high school in Keene, where I live. Seeing candidates up close and personal is one of the perks of life in small-town New Hampshire, but today it didn’t pan out for me. I arrived early but still couldn’t get into the cafeteria where the event was held. I could have watched the video feed that was piped into the auditorium for a spillover crowd, but instead I went home and watched on the local cable channel.
Here’s a question-and-answer exchange that I captured and put up on Blip.tv:
The question was: “How can government revive and support U.S. manufacturing?” The five-part answer runs almost six-and-a-half minutes. That’s way more time than is ever allotted in the official debates we so obsessively scrutinize.
Retail politics is a wonderful thing, and I wish I’d been there in person. Not everyone who lives in Keene got in, though, and few who live outside Keene did. But those of us connected to the local cable network got to see and hear a whole lot more than the snippets that will air on regular TV. The same will be true in other local communities. Collectively over the course of the various campaigns we’ll see and hear a lot and, in principle, we will be able to collaboratively make sense of it.
By the time the 2008 election rolls around, we ought to be in a position to assemble and review catalogs of these kinds of detailed responses, tagged by candidate and by issue. If you care about manufacturing, you ought to be able to mix yourself a 2-hour show that includes the most informative discourse on the topic from all the candidates. And you should be able to review commentary, from experts who aren’t necessarily the usual TV suspects, that adds value to that discourse.
In practice there’s a fly in the ointment. Are we allowed to republish and categorize this material, as I’ve done here, to provide fodder for decentralized discussion and analysis?
I’m going to check with the guy who runs our local cable channel tomorrow and if there’s a problem I’ll take that video down. But I hope there won’t be a problem. What’s more, I hope that he and his counterparts in other communities will take the issue off the table by choosing appropriate Creative Commons-style licenses for this kind of public-interest material, whether it airs on local cable channels or streams to the Net or both.