Westen, Tracy. "Can technology save democracy?" National Civic Review, Spring 1998 v87 n1 p47 (10).

Keywords: The Democracy Network, political discourse

Abstract:

According to Westen, even though there are new forms of interactive communications available to enable citizens to communicate with their elected representatives there is still a high degree of distrust, and dissatisfaction with government. The author reports that studies conducted by The Democracy Network (www.democracynet.org, NOTE: page no long active – 7/22/2003), indicate that the Internet can, and is being used to improve political outlook and political discourse. The Democracy Network (TDN) offers candidates and voters free access. Candidates are using the environment as a medium of political persuasion. The public uses TDN to seek out political information. The environment is unique in that it offers a new approach to political debate. TDN offers an environment that allows a broader range of issues to be discussed, with more substantive discussions. The author points out that the primary difference and benefit in using the Internet as a political vehicle is that with the traditional media, the candidate controlled the content and time of message. However, on the Internet the public chooses the issues and the time they want to spend reviewing the issue. Another benefit of TDN is that it allows third party candidates the same “air” time as the more visible candidates. This stimulates new issues and debates. The author concludes by saying that technology will not save democracy; only the spirit and skills of the people can do that. But the author does believe that Internet assisted communications will help to revitalize democracy.