There exists a strong correlation between successful democratic governance and citizen participation. Pulling this sense of civic engagement to the furthest end of the spectrum, author and political theorist Benjamin Barber expresses the benefits of citizen independence and self-governance though political deliberation in a variety of texts, one of which being Strong Democracy. While the United States currently operates on a "democratic" base, the overall lack of political efficacy undermines democratic effectiveness. Benjamin Barber outlines a series of solutions and employment strategies in order to increase efficacy and bolster civic engagement and bring about a culture of self-legislation, but in his analysis seems to overlook the collaborative capacity of the Internet, more specifically social media outlets and blogs. This study will examine the use of the Internet in various political manners, to observe if the presence of platforms such as social networks and blogs are facilitating or hindering the push towards a more civic-republican political structure. While research has displayed that the numbers on political internet-usage are consistently increasing, it is evident that not all forms of online-engagement are beneficial towards Barber's Civic Republican ideals, and may serve to strengthen the current unsound system. Through this study, I argue that certain methods of political activity over the Internet may work to support the collaborative democratic culture, and increase a sense of Civic Republicanism through political creativity, deliberation and online-action. If we are to one day achieve the goal of recovering a true sense of cooperative democracy, these forms of participation may play a significant role in the struggle for change, and must be facilitated through both civic education and the cooperation of elites. If this Internet-mediated political deliberation continues to develop, I believe that it has the capacity to act as a significant catalyst towards Barber's Civic Republican ideals and an overall shift in the political culture.
- Click to Connect: The Internet's Influence on the Employment of Civic Republicanism through Online Political Engagement
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