Democracy in America works because it was established as a representative democracy. That is to say that the people of the United States were apportioned representatives to Congress on the basis of population (House of Representatives) and on the basis of two per State (Senate). This form of democracy is sufficiently loose that laws are made on the basis of inspired leadership at best and reasonable intentions at worst. The President of the Unites States is selected on the basis of vision — he who has a vision that the majority of the electors from the States can buy into. Lyndon Johnson had a vision of the Great Society. Jack Kennedy’s vision extended manifest destiny to space and untimately the moon. Nixon forwarded the vision of a global society which included China. Regan’s vision was of a single world freed of the dominance of the Soviet Union. In most cases these visions endured only because the details of implementation were obscure — see the Hillary Clinton 1993 Heath Care Plan, all 1300 pages. Great visions and grand strategy ended in 1993. Coincidentally this was the birth of the Internet browser.

The advent of blogging and the instant participation of the Internet has fragmented the populace. Micro issues now have a voice and substantial replay. A brief analysis of the primary debates of both parties show that most candidates are responding to specific issues and programs that are imbued with life as a result of Blogoshere activity. As a result, no candidates are espousing the grand strategy and visions needed to propel the United States forward. Current attempts at espousing a grand strategy are met with cries of derision and are attacked for their simplicity.

The Internet has opened the flood gates of microparticipation, which may be a good thing; however without the the guidance of a vision and the direction of a strategy, governance becomes an excercise in herding cats. The voice provided by the Blogosphere, emails, websites, etc. allows politicians to ‘enjoy’ the immediate analysis by thousands of citizens of their every concept. The current crop of presidential wanna-bes would be better served to take cognizance of this fact. Today’s political campaign managers view the Blogosphere as what it can do for them in promoting their principals and their views (and as FEC unconstrained attack dogs), but fail to comprehend what this activity implies for the future of the democratic process.

The United States in the Internet Age needs a leader who can put forward the grand vision, generate and foster support for that vision, and elucidate a strategy for achieving that vision, not a leader mired down in details. The failure of politicians to recognize this paradigm shift bodes ill for democracy. We will be a democracy — just an ineffective one.

New leaders are required who have the understanding of this interaction between the Internet enabled populace and the people who create the law and manage the Country. We need leaders who recognize the dangers of loss of vision and can incorporate the benefits of interactive Democracy. Looking at the current crop, I am not optimistic. More birthing pain is going to be required.