These articles from June’s Atlantic are a couple months old now, but they’re still interesting reads in the run-up to the election:
- The Amazing Money Machine: How Silicon Valley and the Internet shaped Obama’s campaign. The key argument:
In a sense, Obama represents a triumph of campaign-finance reform. He has not, of course, gotten the money out of politics, as many proponents of reform may have wished, and he will likely forgo public financing if he becomes the nominee. But he has realized the reformers’ other big goal of ending the system whereby a handful of rich donors control the political process. He has done this not by limiting money but by adding much, much more of it—democratizing the system by flooding it with so many new contributors that their combined effect dilutes the old guard to the point that it scarcely poses any threat.
- HisSpace: Previous communications technology revolutions have shaped how Presidents govern. Here’s a look at how the internet is influencing government today and, in particular, how this might matter in an Obama Presidency. The historical angle, in particular, is interesting food for thought:
Improvements to the printing press helped Andrew Jackson form and organize the Democratic Party
Abraham Lincoln became a national celebrity, according to the historian Allen Guelzo’s new book, Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates That Defined America, when transcripts of those debates were reprinted nationwide in newspapers, which were just then reaching critical mass in distribution beyond the few Eastern cities where they had previously flourished
Franklin Delano Roosevelt used radio to make his case for a dramatic redefinition of government itself, quickly mastering the informal tone best suited to the medium.
And of course John F. Kennedy famously rode into the White House thanks in part to the first televised presidential debate in U.S. history, in which his keen sense of the medium’s visual impact, plus a little makeup, enabled him to fashion the look of a winner (especially when compared with a pale and haggard Richard Nixon).
The communications revolution under way today involves the Internet, of course, and if Barack Obama eventually wins the presidency, it will be in no small part because he has understood the medium more fully than his opponents do.