Sheldon Silver vs. The Internet

by Sebastian Benthall

Today, while performing an innocuous search for “nyc weather”, I was presented with the first Google ad to catch my eye for a long time: Stop SIlver from Slithering Into His Seat Again.

For those of you that don’t know, Sheldon Silver is the Speaker of New York’s House of Representatives and an asshole. New York’s state government is one of the most dysfunctional in America, known for its “three men in a room” style politics, and Silver was part of the triumvirate when it was at its height. His recent back room scuttling of the popular congestion pricing bill proves that he remains as autocratic as ever.

For the first time in 20 years, Silver has a challenger in the primary, Paul Newell, who seems like a decent guy.

One of the many reasons that this election will be interesting is that it provides an opportunity to see internet-supported civil society in action, and test its ability to cause real change.

In anticipation of that aspect of the race, note the internet presence of the two candidates. The first three links on a Google search of Sheldon Silver are his New York State Assembly page, a Wikipedia entry, and a page declaring him to be a creep and a fraud. The second link on a search for Paul Newell, well above his campaign site, is his LinkedIn profile. It is too early to tell, but we could be seeing a marked shift in how politics gets done, especially on the local level.