Politics 2.0

Politics 2.0

Our soon-to-be former President George W. Bush has talked a lot about legacy and how the writers of history will tell the story of leaders past. While Bush is typically referring to future revisionists painting him in a much kinder light than today's sentiment would likely reflect, the general concept of how we condense the complexities of major political events is an interesting one. While the cynic in me wants to call such reductiveness just another bit of evidence of the inherent laziness of people, I think there's more to it than that. Throughout the history of civilization people have faced the same problems over and over again. The scarcity of resource and the injustice of corruption aren't new or even unique enough to be anything more than footnotes after a few decades pass. This is why it will be interesting to see what people remember about the rise of Barack Obama. Even though there's been plenty of obligatory noise about him being the first black president, does anyone honestly believe that's the most historic thing about his career? All things considered, race is really low on the list of things that make Obama's election particularly notable. In time, I believe the man's political machine is going to be seen as being more impressive than the color of his skin. Which leads me to what is essentially the first truly modern political campaign of the 21st century. Obama is, without a doubt, the first Internet president. He raised a stupendous amount of money for his run at the White House using online donation systems and a sizeable portion of his electorate educated themselves with his professional-quality website. It's no coincidence that Obama got the Information Generation to vote by embracing their media. Seeing how well that worked for him, Obama has stuck to those guns, so far. Obama has been making weekly addresses via youtube, which itself is surreal on a number of levels. It's just bizarre that the President-Elect is using the same medium as every teenager with a digi-cam who records himself doing middling skateboard tricks, although Obama's videos are of a much higher quality. But that's not the only thing that makes these computer-side chats so odd. It's been an exceedingly long time since the American people have been frequently, directly addressed by the president. Since the advent of television, most of the time we get our presidents one step removed by the press conference format. Obama's team isn't just doing it this way because it's cheaper and easier, they're doing it for the message it sends. We get Barack Obama looking directly at the camera, working from his own script without any media filter whatsoever. It's the perfect combination of strict, glossy control and unabashed populism. So, here's the rub. Obama has come out swinging with loads of substantive commentary on relevant issues, all in a format that addresses the country directly. This is good, it's a step toward long-absent governmental transparency. Still, it'll go down in history as a flashy joke if Obama's administration doesn't make good on a sizeable portion of its promises. If things actually start to get better and the administration is a successful one, then Barack Obama's political organization will have changed American government drastically in one fell swoop.