As the first week of Obama’s presidency passes, a top priority, set forth prior to his election, is to transform “the internet based machinery”, that helped him get elected, into an agenda setting tool. The millennial generation tools within a new frontier of political interaction, i.e. social networking sites, like facebook, twitter, and YouTube are still in their embryonic form, particularly with regard to their impact on the political process. It is clear, however, that if one wants to be a powerful political actor he or she must embrace these new forms of media. There are a number of past politicians, once with substantial clout, who are now lying in the graveyard that this new media dug. Trent Lott and George Allen, for example, were sidelined by the powerful quotidian torrent of Internet politics. Obama’s campaign was an exposé of the galvanizing proclivities of this new medium. Now, it is the telos of the Obama administration to turn its revolutionary campaign into revolutionary governance.
Building off his campaign’s successful use of the new frontier, Obama’s first step was to revamp the white house website, modeling it after his campaign site. The improved White house website can be continually updated with presidential orders and blogs. Next, rather than utilizing the old medium of radio, Obama streamed his position on the economic crisis via video. Presidential Obama’s utilization of new media provides for an unparalleled dissemination of information. It successfully bypasses the conduits of the old watchdog media leaving the bypassed representatives of the older forms of media concerned. It can be proffered, however, that citizens are now becoming the watchdogs, as they are provided with new forums for discussion and reaction. Obama, differently than during his astonishing and meteoric rise to the presidency, will now have many more restrictions on his usage of the millennial generations tool kit. Mr. Obama was unfettered in his usage of Facebook, instant messaging and twitter, President Obama will be more regulated. Democracy theorist Benjamin Barber (1998 ) adroitly elucidates the potential of new technology’s proclivities for civics. He states, “The bittersweet fruits of science will…serve as facilitator rather than a corruptor of our precious democracy”. The Internet is interactive and the viewer has much more control, thus, fostering democracy. New technology has transformed the dynamics and structure of civics, political campaigning, and democracy. Therefore, citizens, and politicians alike must embrace this new medium and shunt aside any desire to stultify the inexorable current of this new media. We have entered the new political frontier and there is no turning back.
Janet M. Ruaneand Karen A. Cerulo on Presidential Politics