Mickey Kaus thinks youtube videos undermine the very logic of campaign finance legislation (I can’t find any permanent links on his site). So far as they continue the trend that blogging started of blurring the lines between advocacy by organized groups and advocacy by individuals, they probably will require a major overhaul of those laws. But he thinks that it will no longer be true “that candidates with more money enjoy a proportional advantage,” because that can be undone with 15 minute viral videos.
Put me down as sceptical. Youtube videos do allow someone to come out of nowhere and produce a video that a million people watch, but you can’t just say “hey, millions of people, watch my video!” Even a video that has wide appeal among its viewers requires people with a high profile to take notice (usually bloggers), to gain a really wide audience. A really really persuasive and entertaining video won’t get silenced, but political organizations and candidates who understand how to use their influence will get more attention paid to favorable videos.
Web based activism may lead to decentralization and a recentering of how campaigns work, but it would be crazy to think deny that money talks and will continue to talk in the future. At best, we can hope for a qualitative change, so that the political process will be somewhat more substantive and democratic.