Fight Club 2008

Fight clubAs Fight Clubs go, Election 2008 is doing a pretty miserable job of following the rules.

  • Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that the presidential fight is underway (rules 1 & 2, “You do not talk about Fight Club,” broken).
  • You also know the field is full to a ridiculous degree (rule 4, “Only two guys to a fight,” shattered).
  • You also know that each candidate’s dealing with multiple fronts (Hillary and Obama, Hillary and Edwards, McCain and Romney, Giuliani and everyone else; rule 5, “One fight at a time,” obliterated).
  • No weapon seems to be off-limits (rule 6, “No shirt, no shoes,” ) is out as well.

So only 3 out of 8 are intact. Rule 8 (“If this is your first night, you have to fight”) has become clear with the early nastiness on both sides of the aisle (see below for examples), and we’ll see rule 3 (how fights end) and rule 7 (“Fights go on as long as they have to”) come into play before long, as the financial featherweights drop like Michael Spinks for lack of support.

Election 2008 is heating up and promises to be the nastiest race ever. The gloves have already come off, and my gut tells me we’re going to see lots more blood before it’s all over. I think there is one main reason for this.

“Web 2.0” has come of age. Web 2.0, if you didn’t know, has to do mainly with the interactive, communal potential of the Web. Some of teh best examples are Wikipedia and YouTube. (They are also contain some of the worst examples.)

This will be the first Web 2.0 presidential race. Sure, Howard Dean raised a ton of money on the Web in ’04, and every candidate had a Web site with a message board. But the self-styled Webroots have changed the way America does politics. Witness the 2006 election, when the virtual anti-war community staged a coup, unseating Republicans and shifting the balance of power in Congress. Would we be seeing the wide-ranging investigations, and hearing calls for Gonzalez to resign if that hadn’t happened? Methinks not.

Furthermore, the Internet has made Big Brother a reality. If you matter to anyone, someone really is watching your every move, and someone else is bound to post it on YouTube a few seconds after it happens. From there, it makes it to millions in seconds. Two recent examples illustrate this fact.

Ann Coulter, the right’s favorite wench, has terminal FIMD. Unfortunately, she illustrates perfectly the gracelessness of modern political rhetoric. She recently called John Edwards a nasty name at a PAC conference. Thanks to C-SPAN, it was taped and aired. Clips made it onto every mainstream media outlet (save perhaps FoxNews), and thanks to YouTube, everyone else in the world knows about it now too. This blog demonstrates the tenor of most rhetoric on the subject.

Edward Norton in Fight ClubSecond, the Drudge Report is reporting the appearance of the 2008 race’s first attack ad. It remixes the classic Apple “1984” ad using Hillary Clinton. And in true Web 2.0 fashion, it wasn’t produced by a candidate or his organization, and it appeared not in the mainstream media but on YouTube. Rest assured, it will be on thousands of blogs today. And it will be the first swell of a tidal wave of voter-created content. Politics will never be the same.

Which brings me to my questions. Where will the Church be? Which side? Should we fight at all, and if we do, how can one “fight” in the spirit of our Savior? I hope to explore that issue on this blog in the coming months. For now, take a look at a recent article by Gordon McDonald, published in Leadership’s “Leader’s Insight” e-newsletter. The article resonates with much of my recent thinking.

Make no mistake: the 2008 election will be less a race than a rumble. The winner will come out bruised and bloody, like Fight Club‘s Narrator after he destroyed the pretty boy, and twice as smug.

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