February 11, 2007 |
You need to know how to socialize to be the president of a nation. You should certainly know how to work a room, and if that isn’t in your repertoire of strengths, you’ll need to do a great deal of feigning to pull off a successful meeting with your cabinet, the rest of the staff, and quite a few world leaders; this is especially the case if you’re the President of the United States. The country is in dire straights diplomatically today, and a few more meet-and-greets really wouldn’t hurt right about now.
But face-to-face gatherings alone aren’t going to cut it in the next race for the top job. That’s why Barack Obama, the presidential hopeful from the state of Illinois, announced the start of his own social network. It’s called My.BarackObama.com. It has many of the features you’d expect to see in popular places like Myspace and Facebook, with fundraising and events features that will span the entire grassroots effort behind the Obama campaign. From local “get out the message” stunts to Barack’s own public speaking sessions, you get to stay connected and meet people that share in the interests of Barack Obama’s campaign.
There are good reasons for the Barack Obama campaign to create this social network. Back in ’00 and ’04, the Internet was becoming more and more relevant to the presidential race. Fundraising was minimal in 2000, but it picked up a whole lot of steam four years later. Today it is said that many of the funds raised by the candidates, at least at the start, will be through Internet portals. Howard Dean, despite being known by his “Scream” throughout the political blogosphere, racked up millions of dollars through online contributions of $1-100. Ten dollars a head; a million heads: that’s quite a bit of cash.
Despite the fact that Barack Obama called to question 2004’s outlandish record campaign funding, suggesting it would be in the moral interest of the Democratic party to set a limit on how much they can rake in for the primary, the ‘My Fundraising’ feature on My.BarackObama.com, as well as the ‘Donate’ button are surely not going away. Some have suggested that ’08 will show more records broken, with the Republicans and Democrats each raising roughly $500 million.If that seems like it’s far too much, that’s because it is.
Of course, there are downsides to the candidates’ insistence in having a “conversation” with the public. Not that speaking to the people is a bad thing, no. But no social network, however restricted, is without it’s spammers, and no doubt there will be plenty of opposition forces with BarackObama.comaccounts, scrutinizing the happenings in the network and exposing any potentially negative items to smear the presidential contender. We know what happened to George Allen, the incumbent senator of Virginia after his “macaca” moment.
There’s no doubt that more people will be heard this election season that didn’t get a say last time around. But it will also prove to be the dirtiest of the modern American races.
If you’re looking for an opinion from me on what the parties should do for the ’08 race, here’s what I’ve got to say. I believe a good start would be to open a wiki for each eligible party, and let the party supporters sort what they stand for and what they desire to achieve in the next four or more years.
It’ll be messy, and the wikis would need a very strong backbone to deal with the back-and-forth that’s bound to arise, but we’re raking a lot of muck as it is already. Why not scrap the polling process altogether and just let the people take their collective temperature and see what’s what?