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Out with the Old, and In with the New

It’s 2012, and modern times are upon us.  I have had the privilege of taking Government during a year for the Presidential Elections.  Since its an election year, my class an I have gotten to take a look inside the election process, especially how candidates market themselves and attempt to sway voters.  In these modern times, candidate’s ways of campaigning to their voters have changed.  With the easy accessibility of the internet, candidates have turned to social media sites in order to reach their voters.  In our Campaign Commercials unit, we learned about some popular campaign commercials through the years such as Nixon’s “McGoverns Defense,” and Reagan’s “Prouder, Stronger, Better.”  After researching campaign commercials as well as creating Twitter accounts for government and being opened to Twitters political influence, I was inspired to further go into the modern form of campaigning.Image

I took to researching on my own and came upon a New York Times article that explains the instrumental role that technology plays in modern campaigning.  The article focuses on President Obama’s use of the internet in the 2008 and compares it John F. Kennedy’s use of television in his running for presidency.  Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post argues that,“Were it not for the Internet, Barack Obama would not be president. Were it not for the Internet, Barack Obama would not have been the nominee.” One of the most popular social media sites utilized by candidates is Twitter.  Presidential candidates have taken to Twitter to campaign to the public through the convenience of the site and the ability to develop seemingly personal relationships with their constituents.  To add some factual evidence to the overwhelming introduction of technology to campaigning and the presidency; President Obama has 15,471,940 follower on Twitter!  That staggering number confirms that modern times are upon us and presidential campaigning has taken a turn down the road of technology.

 

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Next, the article focuses on President Obama’s very effective use of YouTube.  President Obama was able to utilize YouTube as free advertising for his campaign.  Instead of paying for millions in commercial costs, he was able to show millions of people his message through YouTube.  President Obama’s most famous YouTube video has collected a little over 24 million Imageviews.  Not only is the way of campaigning changing, but it is affective.  Joe Trippi, who ran Howard Deans campaign in 2004 states, “The campaign’s official stuff they created for YouTube was watched for 14.5 million hours.”  He then confirmed that, “To buy 14.5 million hours on broadcast TV is $47 million.”  This is a perfect example of how campaigning has used modern technology as a beneficial way of communicating to the public.

 

It is obvious that campaigning has become modernized, and it can be seen happening today as campaigning continues for the 2012 election.  However, is it effective?  Does Mitt Romney’s Tweet or President Obama’s YouTube hit actually help the campaigning process?  In response to my study in government class as well as my further studies on the topic, personally I would say the change to modern campaigning is beneficial.  If such a powerful thing such as the internet is being un used, than why not utilize its potential?  Electing a new president is such an important decision and the power of the internet should be used for something so important.  By using technology, Presidential campaigning has become accessible to citizens.  Candidates are able to convey their messages and ideas to millions of followers within seconds which gives candidates the ability to organize their supporters.  Using the internet to campaign has given results and it is effective.  Millions of people follow on Twitter and watch YouTube videos and messages are being conveyed through these sites.  It is truly amazing the impact and the continuing change technology gives campaigning.  As campaigning for the 2012 election continues, I look forward to being able to view and benefit from the use modern campaigning.

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Killing the Confusion

April 23, 2012 3 comments

Throughout my study of government this year, I have been striving to find out how the United States’ government functions.  Having only briefly learned about the government in the years past, I began my studies quite confused on the way our government works.  In government class, during our study of Congress, we deciphered a certain paper written by Woodrow Wilson.  “Congressional Government: A Study in American Politics” by Woodrow Wilson,  gave me an inside look at the Congress and helped me with the confusion I had.

When reading Wilson’s paper I realized I was not the only one who had problems understanding our government and that the Congress is very complex and not easily apprehended.  As Wilson says, “Congress is hard to see satisfactorily and appreciatively at a single view and from a single stand-point. Its complicated forms and diversified structure confuse the vision, and conceal the system which underlies its composition. It is too complex to be understood without an effort, without a careful and systematic process of analysis. Consequently, very few people do understand it, and its doors are practically shut against the comprehension of the public at large” (Wilson 1).  Now with the confusion of Congress established, Wilson begins to explain the make up of Congress.  While reading, I came across something I have never heard of before, the Standing Committees.  Throughout out the rest of his paper, Wilson recognizes Standing Committees of the House as being extremely powerful in Congress saying, “The privileges of the Standing Committees are the beginning and the end of the rules” (Wilson 2).  If Standing Committees are so powerful than why haven’t I ever heard of them?  What is their role in the House in which gives them so much control?  With these questions in mind, a continued looking into Wilson’s paper.

When a bill is constructed, it is then sent to the committee that has to do with the subject the bill handles.  For example, a bill concerning the nation’s budget would be sent to the Budget Committee.  Currently, there are twenty-two committees in the House, making it confusing when trying to findout where to send each bill. When a committee receives the bill, the committee chairman, the head of the committee, can decide the fate of that bill. This is where the committees get their power.  The committee chairmen have the ability to kill any bill as well as leave the billaside to not be discussed by the committee, which will also kill the bill.  Many bills are left undiscussed and the vast majority of bills never make it out of the committees.  As Wilson says, “The fate of bills committed is generally not uncertain. As a rule, a bill committed is a bill doomed” (Wilson 3).  Also, the committee chairmen can decide which bills they think have precedence of others, which I found to be astonishing.  When it comes down to it, one man has the ability to decide what bills could be enforced to the whole United States and yet this man is not the President.  All of this shows the immense authoritative power that the Standing Committees have.

After finishing Wilson’s paper, I could not believe that I had never heard of Standing Committees.  They are such a pivotal part of our government yet I had no knowledge of them.  Wilson explains the lack of knowledge about committees saying, “Congress in session is Congress on public exhibition,   whilst Congress in its committee-rooms is Congress at work” (Wilson 4).  This means that when Congress is in session, it is just for show.  However, the real work in Congress is done outside the public’s view in the committee rooms.  Seeking more  information about committees I sought out another source.  After reading this web page, which I encourage you do, Wilson’s   thoughts were confirmed and my under lying questions about committees were answered.

During my congressional studies, I learned how Congress operates and its fundamental make up in the Constitution.  However, I am still astounded that so many citizens do not know of the Standing Committees that hold so much power in our government.  I believe it is important and within our civic duties that we learn how our government works.  By my study of Congress I was enlightened on a very important aspect of government that I had no knowledge of.  In conclusion, I encourage any reader to leave comments as well as look at my annotated copy of Wilson’s paper for more information.

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