The Growth of CyberPolitics
Washington, DC, Feb 1st, 2008 -- The huge success of Obama's fundraising and Grass Roots campaign to bring in millions of new young voters can be explained by one single skill, the use and management of the Internet and modern communication technologies.
The Obama Campaign have embraced the ability of the Internet like no campaign before them. The campaign o Howard Dean led the way, but it appears Obama has taken the use to new levels. The medium lends itself to both distribution of cost effective information, and the polarization of the audience to receive only the information slant conducive to their opinion. The Internet does not lend itself to changing already held views, unlike the campaign commercial.
The Internet also has a down side for smear campaigns, and padding the achievements of candidates, as every piece of information presented can be instantly verified by a Google or other search. Whereas a TV commercial can present downright lies, and leave the viewer with the desired impression, true or false, the Internet begs further research. Further research is often the least desirable outcome of campaign advertising. In recent years the amount of misinformation, and disinformation has reached an all time high. The ability to research the claims and statements brings a whole new dimension, and empowerment to the targeted voter.
The ability to search photographs may be a nightmare to campaign spin merchants, and many a politician has been called to correct their memory when news photographs prove their memory lapses. It is often said that nothing ever is destroyed on the web, it just swirls around and around on some archive site somewhere. I know I have looked back ten years or more at our own material archived, and compared style and graphics to today. Politicians often forget that the thinking electorate, which has not been a hallmark of American Politics in the past, now has the ability to search, compare and verify. It is the younger Internet savvy voter who takes advantage of this new technology. The older polarized voter still looks to the circus atmosphere of the Conventions to confirm their beliefs. Others listen to the likes of Rush Limbaugh to be spoon fed their propaganda.
The power of the Internet, good and bad, is just beginning to be realized. The power of You Tube to ridicule politicians is legendary and this brings the age old satirical sketch up to date, with a much bigger instant audience.
As the election campaign builds up to the General Election in November we will see how the use and misuse of the Internet grows. My bet is that it will become the dominant communications medium for the future. This is both a good thing, and a bad one, for the Internet can be easily corrupted and forged. One could argue that TV campaigns like the Swift Boat commercials were corrupt and false. The TV equivalent of the Gulf of Tonkin and the Weapons of Mass Destruction and Iranian Gunboats fabrications. The gullible American electorate swallowed them Hook Line and Sinker, so why not let the buyer beware over material distributed through the Internet.
Shouldn't we strive to achieve a high level of political ethics in using this new powerful medium? Or should it just be about money.
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