The tools for bypassing political TV commercials - the price hogs of campaigns - are in place on the web: Web video is inexpensive and easily goes viral. But wait, there's more: Now there are web videos that provide excellent rundowns for voters trying to decide what to do about candidates and ballot issues.
We're taken with a new project the Washington Secretary of State and TVW (Washington's C-SPAN) has started, with the useful example of an I-1033 point-counterpoint.
This one, running about 10 minutes, pits initiative backer Tim Eyman against Washington state AARP Director Doug Shadel; after a brief description of the measure - which seeks to cap government spending in the state - each has about four minutes to pitch the case for or against. Both of them get down to the heart of the matter, and you can imagine either of them delivering a somewhat similar argument if you bumped into them on the street.
But this is better: Both Eyman and Shadel know that their opposition will be seen right there, right next to them, so that anything they say that can be challenged, will be challenged. They have enough time to get into the details, to make a comprehensive argument rather than reel off a few soundbites - in fact, because of the time allowed, they effectively have to make comprehensive arguments. Both do a professional job. (As a matter of review, Eyman may come across better to a larger audience; he has a real everyman appeal on video.)
These kind of videos, which could be attached to state campaign guides like those Washington and Oregon issue, could be excellent helps for voters. They're all a candidate or an issue advocate need to make a personal appeal. And they may begin to make clear the limitations and flaws inherent in all those 30-second commercials we're accustomed to seeing.