Thursday, July 21, 2011

yes we can!

[video found on]

There was a euphoric feeling surrounding the 2008 presidential election.
Just as with the anti-war movement in the late 60s and early 70s, the months leading up to the election were not only consequential politically, but it had also had drawn attention to the changing cultural landscape among the youth.

There was a tremendous sense of obligation to both rid the nation of its horrific history of slave labor and civil oppression, and also to move beyond the seemingly ineffective and unpopular conservative administration of George Bush. But perhaps the story behind the election was not just that we elected our first African American president, but more so how Barack Obama effectively used media, and specifically new media, to empower and unite the subculture of the American youth.[7].

The mass media has always had a significant impact on the way politics have evolved within the United States.

In 1920, the presidential election reached American homes via commercial radio for the first time[1]. And in 1960, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Regan forever changed the way we would view our candidates, as the two engaged in the first televised debate in our nation’s history[1] For the first time, a voter no longer had to rely on advertisements or reputation to decode campaign messages from potential candidates. They could now both hear and see how a candidate reacted as he(or she) addressed an issue.

The 2008 campaign trail was revolutionary as well.

While previous advances in mass media were incredibly important, these methods of communication were still very reminiscent of the traditional “one on many” approach. Senders and receivers of media remained relatively static, and as a consequence, the average person had little control over input.
This changed in 2008, as social media outlets such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter became viable campaign weapons[7].

These more personal methods of communication allowed Obama’s personality and charm to shine as he quickly became the #1 most followed person on twitter[2]. He also gathered a huge Facebook following and videos of his speech were replayed on YouTube.

This even extended to crossover of old media to new as CNN hosted the first ever “YouTube debates”,in which questions submitted by viewers through YouTube would be asked to the candidates[6].

YouTube also became a popular source of for voters to express their support for Obama. The musician “Will. I. Am” used Obama’s campaign slogan to create the song “Yes We Can”[3], that reached millions of viewers on YouTube, and a YouTuber named ObamaGirl, created a popular video professing her love to her favorite candidate that became the most popular political video on the site[4].

YouTube was especially integral, because it allowed for free advertising.
Whereas an ad on TV may cost in the millions of dollars to run, YouTube was free and allowed Obama to reach the voters in a more personal way[7] .

On the other hand, the McCain campaign failed to effectively employ the use of social mediums[2]. His presence on twitter and Facebook were relatively non-existent and
republican pollster David Johnson was quoted as saying that his party was “really behind in learning how to maximize(social networking) and using it to their best benefit[2].

John McCain’s inability to relate to the public on a more interpersonal level further exacerbated his reputation as an old,ultra conservative candidate.

The results of this manifested clearly in the exit polls, as Barack Obama came away with 70% of the 18-29 demographic[5].
Barack Obama’s successful use of the mass media connected to the youth and proved to be a major contributor to his victory over John McCain.

Despite being a liberal that had switched over to the “dark side”(I would’ve voted for McCain if I could), I felt the sense of empowerment that Obama had leant me.
Obama’s campaign message had managed to reach me in spite of my disposition toward his politics.Even as I watched John McCain give his concession speech,
I found myself feeling hopeful rather than sad, as I eagerly awaited the prospect of a changing future.








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