Matt Bai
Journalist, The New York Times; Author

Can technology increase political participation?

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Technology is going to change politics whether we like it or not.

Matt Bai

Matt Bai is a political reporter and staff writer for the New York Times Magazine, Bai graduated from Tufts in 1990 and received a Masters from the Columbia School of Journalism in 1994. Bai began his reporting career at the Boston Globe's metro desk; he spent five years as a national correspondent for Newsweek before coming to the Times in 2002. Bai has covered all sorts of national news: everything from the Columbine shootings to John Glenn's last space voyage to Mike Bloomberg's mayoral campaign. In recent years, Bai has focused primarily on intra-Democratic Party politics. He is the author of The Argument: Billionaires, Bloggers, and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics, an analysis of the progressive movement. Bai's work has also appeared in both the 2005 and 2006 editions of The Best American Political Writing.  Matt covered the 2008 presidential race for the New York Times Magazine.


Matt Bai:Well I don’t know that you harness technology. I think technology often harnesses you. And technology is gonna change politics whether we like it or not. And maybe it’s too much to expect that we can sort of get ahead of the curve. But I’m really excited about this. I mean I’m excited about the whole moment. I’m very optimistic about it, and I think . . . Look I think the trend . . . To be very philosophical about it, I do believe . . . maybe it sounds jinglistic, but the trend of all humanity is moving toward . . . is always evolving toward personal freedom and personal liberty. I think that’s what makes the American ideal so vital, is because I do think it represents the sort of political evolution of humankind in a way in this moment. I think it will be remembered that way as long as people are walking the planet, no matter what happens. And so you know to me this technological revolution where people can engage on a personal level and customize their lives and their options; and work at home if we can make that possible for people; and be around their children; and telecommute; and all the things that this technology makes possible is incredibly exciting. And it certainly has that effect, you know, potentially in the political realm. I mean I . . . in my lifetime people will vote online. I believe that. I don’t see . . . The arguments are so silly. “Well it’s not secure.” Well you know how many things I buy on the Internet with my credit card? I mean I guess you could argue that your vote is much more important than your credit card. It is. But if we can make that secure, certainly we can make voting reasonably secure. And so you know I think that . . . And I think we’ll have greater communication between . . . hopefully between our leaders and our people because they’re able to make themselves heard, and there’s . . . you can communicate so much more easily. So I think the process is gonna change in ways we can’t imagine.

Recorded on: 12/13/07