Election Year and Social Media

- January 18, 2008

Election year in the United States is always an exciting time of patriotism, debate, passion and controversy. It is a time when the nation is supposed to come together to select a leader, a mentor, and a role model. For years, election campaigns have been ruled by an overpowering amount of television advertisements. Television advertisements have always played an important role by providing a way for the candidates to express their beliefs, their goals, their plan of action, and their reasoning behind why they are better than their competitors. It has always been a great way for politicians to reach millions of Americans in the hopes of acquiring the highest amount of votes. However, television hasn’t allowed fellow Americans the opportunity to express their feelings and ask the questions that they needed to know….at least not until this past year.

The July 2007 democratic debate was one of the most talked about topics of last year. YouTube and CNN created a new debate format in which voters sent in video questions to be answered in televised format. This allowed everyone the opportunity to ask a question to a future president. The floor wasn’t just open to reporters anymore; it was open to everyone, young and old. It opened up a whole new perspective to the presidential candidates. Social Media is the people’s voice! There is so much potential for social media to become a decisive tool for the politicians. If the politicians are able to hear the voice of the people, they can modify their campaigns to reflect what the people are looking for in a leader. Social media is also a great way to connect with the younger demographic.

A recent article posted by MediaPost, discusses how competing old/new media alliances including CNN and YouTube, MTV and MySpace, ABC News and Facebook have promised to change the structure of the typical election year by mashing up traditional TV news with the social media capabilities of the Internet. Pew Research Center stated that 42% of people ranging from 18 to 29 regularly learn about the presidential campaign from the Internet.

A frightening aspect of politics has become its ability to divide rather than unite. Republican vs. Democrat. Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice, etc. The list goes on and on. Rather than bringing people together, presidential elections have tended to cause the nation to select a political party, a strict set of beliefs, and a stance against anyone who disagrees. Yet, with the introduction of social media into the election, it has allowed people to create an open dialogue with each other.

It is my prediction that social media will be more heavily used in this year’s presidential campaigns. It will help encourage more citizens, especially younger ones, to vote and participate in this year’s election. This is the first year, where the “ordinary” voter can be heard if we choose to partake. Social Media makes it easier for all of us. Go forth and find a social community to participate in. Let your voice be heard and make a difference!

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