I can not stand politics. It doesn’t matter what kind we’re talking about: Office, media, government. To me, politics scream ego, spin, and it stifles true option. Let’s face it, we all CRINGE when the political ads start rolling on television. Despite that, I was thrilled to see evidence of how important new media is going to be in this year’s presidential election.

The folks over at UStream.TV streamed the entire YearlyKos convention in Chicago this year.  The highlight of the convention was a forum with the Democratic presidential candidates on Saturday. There were 1,400 people at the conference itself. During the forum, 2,500 people were watching on UStream at the same time. An amazing 40,000 people tuned in at some point during the conference.  That is absolutely amazing to me. UStream even went as far as to ask questions from the online forum to General Wesley Clark.

People are hungry for information. They are turning to internet sources for this information with greater and greater frequency. While it’s difficult to manage 50 people, let alone 2,500 people in a forum to address questions, it’s exactly the direction these candidates need to go. The last two presidential elections have been all about the town hall meeting. With the advent of new media, this town hall NEEDS to be taken online. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Relationships is what web 2.0 and new media are all about.  It’s about being more authentic, personal, approachable, and accessible. The candidate that can utilize the tools of new media and at least portray this feeling of authenticity will flourish.  We need to talk WITH the candidates, not be talked AT.