In past years, presidential elections have come down to political views. However President Obama announced last Wednesday on ABC that he supports gay marriage, reversing his longstanding opposition because of the growing pressure from his Democratic staff and even his own vice president. This could heavily change the focus of the 2012 presidential election from Obamacare (political) to Gay Marriage (personal). The president stressed that this is a personal position, and that he still supports the concept of states’ deciding the issue on their own. Already within his term, Obama has repealed the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy in 2010, allowing gays and lesbians to fight openly in the military. The president declared, on the View that his administration has already stopped defending the Defense of Marriage Act and according to CNN, if President Barack Obama receives a second term in office, he will fight to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (which defines marriage between one man and one woman) because he believes that it is unconstitutional. Mallory Simon of CNN said in response to Obama, “It’s not to say the president’s announcement is necessarily a watershed moment. It earned him kudos and criticism despite the fact that he left the legal standing of same-sex marriage in the hands of the states and made no policy changes.” The cliffhanger of the story is that Obama will not fight to repeal the DMA until his second term in office. So how are his views going to help him win the 2012 presidential election when 38 states have legislation disagreeing with his statements?
President Obama told citizens May 13th while on the Viewthat the reason his beliefs have taken so long to surface is because he thought civil unions would be sufficient. Civil unions are defined as a relationship between a same-sex couple that is legally recognized by a state authority and are important because under current law in some states, same sex couples are denied state rights, benefits, and protections that are automatically guaranteed to couples by civil marriage. Obama believes that, “We have never gone wrong when we’ve extended rights and responsibilities to everybody” and that extending constitutional rights for gays and lesbians would strengthen our country. However, as of May 2012, 38 states have state law and or constitutional provisions that limit marriage to relation ships between a man and a woman. A total of 6 states have issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples (with legislation passed in 2 more states but their enforcement is pending appeal). New Hampshire is the only state that allows civil unions that provide state-level spousal rights to same-sex couples and 4 states do the same but through Domestic Partnerships. So how will supporting gay marriage help Obama win the 2012 presidential election? It is possible that the impact of Obama’s same-sex marriage position will ultimately be greater or lesser, depending on the attention paid to the same-sex marriage issue during the duration of the presidential campaign. Gallup came out with a new poll suggesting a whopping 40 percent of Americans say President Obama’s newly public support of gay marriage will affect their votes. Of those, 26 percent say it will make them less likely to vote for Obama, while 13 percent say it will make them more likely to vote for him. The critical number in the poll is for independents – 23 percent said the gay marriage support makes it less likely they will vote for Obama. Obama’s views have caused independent voters to change their views and those voters in Swing States could significantly influence the presidential race.
If this presidential race continues to be a race for the battleground states, these independent voters could give Romney the final push to beat Obama. Obama’s opposing candidate Mitt Romney has always been against gay marriage and fought his state’s highest court, as governor, when Massachusetts became the first state to legalize gay marriage in 2004. Mitt Romneydeclared on Monday, “My view is that marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman,” Romney said. “That’s the position I’ve had for some time, and I don’t intend to make any adjustments at this point. … Or ever, by the way.” Four of the most recent polls from realclearpolitics.comshow either Romney up by 1 against Obama, Obama up by 7, or the two of them tied. These polls conducted only two days ago show that these battleground states are slowly changing the 2012 election, and if independent citizens keep swinging toward Romney, Obama’s views of gay marriage could end up affecting him negatively and hand Romney the keys to the White House.
Since the beginning of the third trimester, our government class has delivered its focus to the inner-workings of our government systems. We have discussed the elections that take place within the government, along with what lurking presence has the biggest effect on the outcome of these elections. Whether we were discussing elections in the Senate, House, or even presidential elections, what I have found to be the most interesting topic that we have debated is that the media has the biggest effect, by FAR, on potential voters. I believe that the media gives new opportunities to connect with American citizens because it allows candidates to deliver their political beliefs to the public, while keeping an eye out for what the people want.
The first reason that technology is important is because the younger citizens of America are starting to pay more attention to politics. America’s founding fathers preached that citizen’s participation in government is one of our greatest responsibilities. As shown from our class’ study on Voter Participation, the younger generation, especially young citizens with college level educations, is starting to pay more attention to politics. The younger generation has also brought along with it a new wave of technology. I know here at Parish it is nearly impossible to walk down the hall and not see someone checking their latest text message or twitter feed; we never go anywhere without our phones. As said in our textbook, “life today is simply busier than in the past and offers more distractions” (150). In order to be successful, it is key for government officials to embrace the new ways of technology.
The most successful example of the benefit of technology was President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, “Yes We Can.” The brilliant campaign directors, hiding behind Obama’s campaign commercials, used the young generation, who “in 2008 flocked to the polls; about 49 percent of those under 25 came out to vote for either John McCain or Barack Obama” (151), to their advantage. In Obama’s campaign ads, the directors featured many celebrities to target the younger crowd. By showing Scarlet Johanson, Nicole Scherzinger, Will I Am, among other famous people repeatedly chanting “Yes We Can”, younger citizens realized that these famous people also want a change. If they can change the world, by campaigning for Obama, maybe they can too.
In my opinion, the most successful government officials are the ones, like Obama, that are up to date with technology. Obama is always tweeting about life in the oval office, which makes citizens more comfortable because they know they are in good hands. Although the media can be negative on the personal lives of candidates, I believe that it is vital for government officials to express their political opinions through twitter, because not all of America has time to sit down and watch interviews on the news. It is also fairly easy to make you’re voice heard through technology. A citizen can email, message, or call the representative they wish to speak too. Through technology, Capitol Hill can turn a new leaf and show America that they really care about making public opinion heard, as well as update citizens on the hectic life inside the government.