As we wrap up the year in our government class, we aim to apply the things we have learned to real life situations. One topic we studied as campaigning and campaign strategies. One could look at Reagan, Bush, JFK, or any of our former presidents for that matter, and he or she could see the use of campaign ads or anything to push his campaign over another’s. The presidential elections are getting nearer and nearer which means that more and more campaign ads and other pushes to get a vote are being used. Recently, President Obama released a short clip slamming Mitt Romney in regard to job losses in the past and Romney’s “plan” for the future. As I talked about (as well as many others) in my last blog post, media has a tremendous effect on the presidential race today because of how many people see it. This ad portrays a dark and solemn tone to represent a not-so-bright future under Romney. Because of what we have studied in our class time, I now have a more solid viewpoint on what this ad really means and what it actually does in regard to President Obama’s campaign. Honestly, if I was to be watching TV in the past and this clip came on, I probably would have done one of two things: either change the channel or just zone out completely for a little bit until it was over. Now, I can actually watch it, know what they’re talking about, and form my own opinion about it, which in this case, I see that President Obama is right when criticizing Romney.
Moreover, back to the campaign ad and its relevance, this isn’t all that the President, or Mitt Romney even, have done to criticize one another. President Obama has ads like the one about steel workers above, as well as videos like “When Mitt Romney Came To Town”, while at the same time, Crossroads Generation, an organization that supports Mitt Romney, recently released a video criticizing President Obama and the issue of student debt. Things are getting heated. Debate is starting. Every four years, this point in time is reached where it turns into a free-for-all and the candidates throw jabs and sometimes uppercuts at each other. This is that point in time. With all the possible ways to get under candidates’ skin and blast them, it turns into a criticism-fest. As if the campaign ads weren’t enough, the Obama administration made a website solely to poke at Romney in relation to his responsibility for job losses. All of these forms of campaigning are used to cause mass flow of information to voters so that they have everything at their disposure. All of this can be linked to Richard Neustadt’s claim of presidential persuasion. A president must persuade those in his cabinet, but that is once he is in office. A presidential candidate and his or her administration must not only dig up information on other candidates that would shoot him or her down, but they must also be able to persuade their audience in order to get their votes.
Presidential elections have and always will be about who can make the other look the worst. It will always be about who can say “Look at me. I’m not going to give you everything, but I’m sure as heck better than that guy”, and then have everyone that hears him believe it. This is the epitome of campaigning and its effect on the voters. It’s giving voters the opportunity to form an opinion, just like I have learned to be able to do by taking this class.
Over the course of this last trimester in our government class, we’ve ventured through so many branches of our government and the processes within it that it was difficult to even start to think about what I wanted to write my reflection on. After a while, I began to think about not only what I found interesting, but what actually was important to me in regard to become a better citizen of the United States. I spun the wheel and I finally landed on technology’s impact on elections and the political process today. As technological advancements are made each and every day, political leaders gain more and more access to the public via the internet, the media, and more. Examples of these are: campaign commercials that can be accessed from all over the world, candidates gaining donations through the internet, and the ability to connect more to the public through the ability to really hear what they have to say. All of these things are both good and bad; however, I believe the increase in access to the public via technology is, in the long run, a good thing. The fact that political leaders are able to get themselves out there much easier allows for people to participate more and be more engaged. As the United States has become more reliant on technology (which is not a good thing for it promotes laziness), it has become all that people do. This is why I chose this topic to reflect on; simply because I, myself, spend so much time utilizing technologies that are available to me.
The campaign commercials’ availability on the internet is a good thing because it allows those who rely on technology to receive political news to see them. It began with only those who had access to a radio could hear the candidates, then it went to television which progressively increased until now, when “47 percent of non-Hispanic whites use the Internet, e-mail or text messaging to get political news or exchange their views, compared with 43 percent of non-Hispanic blacks and 50 percent of English-speaking Hispanics” (1). This statistic shows just how many people solely rely on their access to technology. This allows a more technical fight for presidency because it allows more people to see commercials that are both for and against the candidate of their choice, giving them a broader perspective.
Candidates now have the ability to take in donations and other sources of money to spend through the internet. This is a fantastic thing because it helps prevent the “risk of money power dominating the candidate” (2). For so long, candidates that have more money are simply always going to have a better chance to win. This is because, from the get-go, they are able to campaign more, influence more people through said campaigning, and more. Now, with this availability of technology to aid in this financial issue, candidates can be more evenly matched. There will always be a candidate that is funded more heavily than others; however, with technology, hopeful candidates can start their campaigning over the web before the really start it in the political process. This allows for more equality for all.
Lastly, the ability to have access to the true voices is crucial when talking about the benefits of technology in today’s political process. As Prof. Daniel Kreiss from Stanford University said, “These technologies are bringing about a radical change in the political process as ordinary citizens are increasingly participating and making their voices heard”(3). As more people turn to technology to get their news and see the latest updates about their candidates, it allows more people to communicate in some form with them. In the 2008 election, people made videos and posted them to YouTube to ask questions to candidates of the presidential election during various debates. This alone speaks at length at the vitality of technology in regard to communication between the people and the candidates.
This is just a glimpse at what I learned in my government class. As I conclude this post, I think about the fact that before this was brought to my attention, I didn’t even think that this was a factor in the political process. I have been raised in such a technologically advanced age that I wouldn’t have ever known the difference. Before, I can’t imagine what campaigning was really like and the challenges they must have faced. Voter participation wasn’t a big issue because of the universal patriotism during that time, but during the years after that and before the age of technology began, the hoops that candidates must have had to leap through to promote voter participation must’ve been crazy. However, now, “people need little more than an Internet connection to become a more active part of the political process” (1). This is what makes technology so important. At the end of the day, promotion of voter participation and having the peoples’ voices heard are the things that make technology such a benefit in today’s political process.