How tech could make party conventions suck less

tech party fundraising kickstarter party conventionBesides a minor hurricane, the news in the next couple of weeks will be dominated by political convention coverage, even though it’s been 30 years since a convention wasn’t scripted and something actually interesting and historical occurred. I’ve already heard the term “taxpayer-funded infomercial” more times than I can count, and as of this writing, the Republican National Convention has only been taking place in my hometown of Tampa for one day.

The idea of spending untold millions to gather party faithful in a large arena to cast votes – in person, by voice – seems a little antiquated to me given all of the technological tools at our disposal.

Maybe these tools could save us the $18 million that the federal government gives each party for balloons, signs, and the other accoutrements that goes into a big party (not to mention the $50 million that each host city receives for security).

How about funding the conventions the same way we fund new iPod docks, niche documentaries and bad anime comics? I would favor a federal law stating that all convention costs must be raised on Kickstarter.

If you think about it, it’s the technological equivalent of passing around the hat for some pizza when you have friends over, except it’s thousands of friends and millions of pizzas. And peacefully having pizza seldom draws out anarchists who want to protest your pizza.

The only risk for the political establishment in a Kickstarter-funded convention is that it might not make as much money as the new Planetary Annihilation game, which would be embarrassing, but would also show just how little the general public cares about scripted conventions.

A Kickstarter campaign for convention money might net each party a few hundred thousand. That’s not small change, but it’s far less than what they’ve been used to operating with. The new conventions will look a lot like the annual Furniture Constructors Convention, held every year in beautiful Tulsa. I’ve heard that one is an absolute rager!

Which brings me to my next idea: put the convention on GoToMeeting, or a similar service, so that only the people who need to be involved can get involved and the rest of us can return to talking about Snooki’s baby.

It’s not like these people want an educated electorate anyway.

The less we know about a party’s platform, the better it is for everyone involved. The citizenry gets less frustrated at how fragmented and insulting our political process has become, and the politicians don’t have to answer uncomfortable questions.

But if we are still interested in informing the electorate, journalists play a major part.

democratic national convention tech kickstarter fundraisingUnfortunately at modern conventions, they play too big of one. There are roughly 5,000 delegates at each convention and more than 15,000 credentialed media members. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure we don’t need three people asking each delegate questions that we already know the answers to.

What I would be interested in is the journalists’ uncensored view of the convention. Therefore, every journalist should be provided with an anonymous Twitter handle so we can read less tweets like “Romney ate breakfast with his family at Waffle House” and more like “He didn’t wash his hands after using the restroom. In a Waffle House.” Some people would say that’s not journalism. They obviously haven’t seen what passes for journalism these days.

Finally, to allow us citizens to conduct some of our own journalism, popular apps should publicize their search statistics soon after the Republicans leave Tampa and the Democrats leave Charlotte. I, for one, would like to see what people searched Yelp! for while they were in my hometown. “Lap dance clubs” wouldn’t surprise me. It’s Tampa, after all. Neither would “Planned Parenthood clinics.” “Barbers that can do a high-top fade”? Now that would be surprising for the GOP.

I would also like to see Grindr’s results, even though they would definitely be NSFW.

The point I’m trying to make, in the snarky way that my readership now expects, is that it’s time for our democracy to adapt to the times. We have a wealth of available technology that can make this experience more fruitful and cost-effective for everyone. Instead, politicians only seem willing to use technology when they want money. It’s time to replace the obsolete convention process with ideas that better suit the era in which we live.

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