Monday, October 30, 2006

Culture: God Blog Conference 2006 - Friday Night Panel

I made it down to God Blog Conference 2006 at Biola University after a 2 hour drive.

The conference was attended by a mix of the speakers who were the high powered big name bloggers, interested smaller time bloggers like myself and the student volunteers of Biola's Torrey Honors Institute.

The evening program was a panel with the title, "The New Media Political Revolution."

Moderating was Hugh Hewitt. On the panel was Senate candidate Allen McCulloch, writer La Shawn Barber and philosophy professor John Mark Reynolds.

Below is my attempt to summarize the fast moving conversation.

Hugh made some introductory remarks to put the progress of the New Media in some context: 10 years ago in 1996 there were no blogs and no one had heard of Al-Qaeda. He asked the panel to discuss where they think the New Media will take us in terms of the political realm.

McCulloch whose campaign is utilizing New Media extensively felt that the immediacy of the New Media will make campaigns more open and transparent. He noted we have seen how quickly the blogosphere can point out media errors.

Reynolds believed that virtual communities would be built up around campaigns. However, he felt that eventually a small number gatekeepers will control the bulk of news content.

Hugh asked if the New Media is making people even more divided than before.

McCulloch said that poltics will always involve a certain amount of ugliness. But just as in the past, the candidate with integrity, faith and vision should stand out.

Barber (she is an American of African ancestry) mentioned that as an ethnic minority like Michelle Malkin she gets her share of really hateful mail. However, she senses a calling to be doing what she is doing and so the criticism is to be expected. She plans to keep on taking positions and letting people decide for themselves. There is no point in holding back.

Hewitt asked who they thought might be possible rising political stars?

Barber said no one really stands out to her. She think Tancredo has tapped into the public's concern about illegal immigration. She believes that Barack Obama is over-rated.

Reynolds though Mitt Romney has potential. He feels neither party can continue to write-off whole regions of the United States and expect to govern effectively. Romney could put the Northeast in play for the GOP. He sees that Romney is very articulate and that he seems to inspire genuine loyalty among his supporters. He gave three reasons why America might be ready for a Mormon for President.
(1) Mormons have been a political force in Utah, Idaho and Arizona. Even though he disagrees with Mormon theology vigorously, they are mainstream enough in regards to the "Civic Virtues" that are held by most Americans.
(2) It is generally believed that there is nothing about Mormonism that people believe would lead to bad public policy. That would not have been true of Mormonism in its past. For instance, its history of racism against blacks and polygamy would be disqualifying if those were more recent.
(3) Christians would be reluctant to call Mormons "weird" because that could be said of some aspects of Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant beliefs.

McCulloch agreed that Romney has possibilities. He also believes Condi Rice has a future.

Reynolds ventured that George Allen and Bill Frist are done as national candidates with their recent problems.

Hewitt turned the discussion toward the role of military service might play in future success of candidates. He believed it will prove to be if not essential, very important.

Reynolds agreed. The fact that a person at the height of their youth opts to serve in the military speaks well of them.

McCulloch believed that any future candidate must be seen as having made a choice in their lives that clearly demonstrates a commitment to service. Candidates seen as having skated through life will be at a big disadvantage.

Hugh asked if women will be held to that standard as well.

Barber said, women should not serve in combat. Thus, it would be hard for a woman to become president if there is any sense the country is in danger like it is now.

Reynolds remarked that he is worried that the difference between the military culture and the civilian culture is getting too large.

McCulloch felt that a woman who served in the military will have some advantages as a candidate but the absence of that experience would not be a detrimental as it would be to a male candidate.

Click here to see what others are saying about Godblogcon as identified by Technorati.

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