Ned Bingham
edward.bingham@yale.edu
Resume, Curriculum Vitae

Paradigm Shift

Political Activism seems to be stuck in an era before instant and ubiquitous communication. Every party organizes geographically, dividing the nation into districts. The party assigns a chair to manage each district and garner funding, votes, and support. It then uses a deep hierarchy to manage the county, state, and national constituent bodies.

This organizational structure separates the party control from the constituents it represents. They only have direct access to the district chairs who are elected every four years. The district chairs elect the county chairs and so on. At each higher level, you need to influence fewer people to affect meaningful change. However, you also need more money and status to influence those people. This creates ample opportunity for those with money and status to affect meaningful change while stifling the opportunity of those without. The structure is also quicker to respond to those with money and status because they can influence higher in the hierarchy. So while it takes years of constant effort for a large group of constituents to change the party politic, it takes a weekend for the large donors to overthrow that effort.

The Millennial Generation marks a significant shift in ideological paradigm and social structure, driven by instant, ubiquitous, and expansive communication technology. The social interactions of previous generations were geographically limited making them more likely to exchange ideas with their neighbors than their friends further away. Meanwhile, Millennials interact across vast networks and are more likely to exchange ideas across further distances. Our political system as a whole is geared toward geographic clustering and hierarchical organizational structures. These effectively stifle the voice of the newer generations and amplify that of the older. This is causing newer generations to quickly lose trust in our political institutions as exposed by the voter turnout of the last three elections.

However, I posit that given the right organizational tools, newer generations will have a distinct advantage to rid themselves of the corruptible hierarchical structures that plague our political sphere. A glimmer of this advantage was seen surrounding the introduction of MyBarackObama.com causing a peak voter turnout in 2008. If a political organization were to create an online democratic platform that gives power to its supporters, they could garner virulent support from modern voter blocks.

If we examine current political organizations like The Democratic Party, The Republican Party, The Green Party, The Libertarian Party, Brand New Congress, Swing Left, Our Revolution, and The Tea Party, it becomes apparent that they are either unaware or are unwilling to give up control of their organization. On each website, they ask for an email address and phone number and throw you a few petitions to sign. The leaders and political candidates are inaccessible, discussion is non-existent, organizational structure and goals are unpublished, the platform is unmoving, and the funding is mysterious. This creates a unique opportunity for the first political organization that encourages true online participation.