February 16th, 2009
How’s this for random economic fallout — will the recently passed stimulus bill stimulate online politics?
Here’s why it might: money for transportation and other projects will be funneling down through state and regional funding entities, and every local government is going to be fighting for a share. Plus, though we often think of transportation money as being dedicated to highways, roads and bridges, some of it can be re-allocated to bike and pedestrian trails or paths at the planning agencies’ discretion — and local outdoor recreation organizations will be firing up their members to push away. Finally, it always happens that some people are going to fight certain projects, particularly ones going through their back yards.
With local officials from school board on up now hearing from internet-organized constituents, and with cadres of veteran Obama volunteer commandos dug in across the country post-election, we may see an explosion of email, online video, social networking outreach and all of the other tools of electronic advocacy in the coming months — but this time turned on the projects in the stimulus bill, not on electing a candidate. Here’s one thing certain: anyone with an opinion will have no trouble finding a soapbox, at least a virtual one.