My final project for this class is a lengthy essay on “The Digital Presidency: How Technology is Transforming Politics.” Readers may view my essay on the above link.
I decided to do my final project on this subject because President-elect Barack Obama ran the most technologically sophisticated campaign in history. Throughout his campaign, Obama promised to bring people from diverse backgrounds together and to make government more transparent and efficient. He had an interactive campaign website and used social networks such as Facebook, MySpace and YouTube to reach a large number of voters and to raise funds at the grassroots level. Now that he’s been elected, Obama wants to govern from cyberspace and has set up a website called change.gov, which gives citizens updates on the transition process as well as the means to post their own stories and videos.
My essay explores both the advantages and disadvantages of governing from cyberspace. Since the digital presidency is a relatively new topic, the majority of my sources were online. I found information on this topic through mainstream online publications such as the New York Times, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, The Guardian and Rocky Mountain News. My other sources were less mainstream and included the blog mathoda.com, publications such as FastCompany, newstrackindia, RealClearPolitics and The Huffington Post. I was also able to find one scholarly publication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill libraries concerning the Internet’s role in presidential campaigns. The writer contrasted the interactivity and user participatory features of the campaign websites of Obama, as well as Republican nominee John McCain and Republican candidate Mitt Romney.
Mainstream or not, all sources agreed that the Obama campaign’s use of technology transformed political campaigns and has the potential to transform our governing processes. For instance, Obama wants to set up a blog allowing citizens to post their views on legislation before he casts his vote. The administration also is considering posting Cabinet meetings and weekly radio addresses on YouTube. In order to succeed with a digital presidency, Obama and staff must work with all parties and must give ordinary Americans an easy way to become involved in the process.
If this type of presidency succeeds, America can become a truly transpartisan democracy. If not, we’ll have more of the same failed policies of the past.
On the day after the election, President-elect Obama is getting down to business. One of the items he’ll need to deal with is America’s broken health care system. He has a plan for doing so. But another one of my classmates, Windye Barton, wonders if some additional steps aren’t necessary before America or any other country makes large-scale efforts to promote universal health care. In her blog. Windye discusses the long-term effect of millions of Americans, as well as those in other countries, who remain uninsured and have no access to basic health care.
Election Day is FINALLY here. I voted early, so I won’t be at my polling place to see if there are any lines. I hope things go smoothly nationwide and we don’t have the nightmare we had eight years ago when it was 36 days until we knew who our new president would be. Already, ABC News reports scattered voting problems with long lines and malfunctioning machines. Thinking about that election reminds me of fradulent election information circulating around the internet. Another classmate, Randy Burton, discusses some false information that has been circulating via email, saying that Virginia Republicans were to vote on November 4 and Virginia Democrats were to vote on November 5. This ties in with my earlier posts about the false information regarding our presidential candidates. Randy provides links to several websites that provide evidence of this problem. I might also add that the hoaxes haven’t been limited to just the internet. Just this morning, a Republican party volunteer near Asheville, North Carolina, who was filming vehicle license plates at a polling place in order to make sure that “every vote is a legal one.” Some residents of a nearby adult care home who were voting were intimidated by the camera.
Since I’m not a regular on Facebook, I’d never given much thought to using it as a political debate forum. My classmate, Bobby Ramsey, discusses some of his experiences debating the 2008 U.S. presidential race on Facebook, as well as his fears about using it as a forum. Bobby discusses the partisan, emotional reactions that often surface during these forum discussions – his own and those of others. When I read his thoughts I began thinking about the transpartisan movement. We need to get beyond partisan politics and start discussing the real issues.
Bobby details how he’s grown as a person and has learned not to necessarily believe all bloggers. For instance, he points out how he took blogger Robert George’s remarks about Barack Obama being a pro-abortion extremist at face value. Bobby goes on to say that he initially believed George because the blog seemed “authoritative” and because he was afraid that his own beliefs might be overthrown. I’m sure we can all relate to these feelings of insecurity. We all have a strong beliefs about certain issues and feel threatened when someone tries to challenge that belief. Debates teach us lessons as well. Although I’m an Obama supporter, I can learn something about Senator McCain that might change my perceptions of him. I don’t really agree with most of McCain’s proposed policies, but this doesn’t mean there wouldn’t be at least one issue that I’d agree with him on or that he’s a bad person.
Each One Teach One Project: Part 1
My biggest concern with how new technology is affecting our society is the inaccurate and misleading information about U.S. presidential candidates and their running mates. While the internet allows us access to more information about the candidates and their campaigns than mainstream radio, television and newspapers have offered, some of the information may cause voters to make ill-informed decisions about who our country’s next leader should be.
Part of this week’s assignment is to write a post containing interesting information and things I’ve learned from reading my classmates’ blogs.
Tyler Ritter’s Lost and Found blog:
I enjoyed reading Tyler’s blog Lost and Found. Tyler blogs about her grandmother’s creative spirit and craftsmanship and how the women’s liberation movement has affected today’s women. Like Tyler, I grew up in the North Carolina mountains, learning crafts, sewing and other domestic skills. We were a product of the era and were doing what women were “expected to do.” About the same time, the women’s liberation movement was gaining strength and girls and women were presented with very different possibilities for their lives We were told that sewing and needlework were useless. No longer did we need to be chained to the house, cooking and raising children. As Tyler mentions in her blog, many of us have struggled with self-esteem and with “finding our place.” There was a period in which I pretty much denied my feminine side – I needed to “act tough,” “be one of the boys,” and focus the vast majority of my energy on my career. All this was well and good. I learned that I could do anything I set my mind to and I truly learned to take care of myself. As time went on, there was no denying another part of myself. I became a mother. I had put so much energy into developing my “tough” side that it was somewhat unsettling for me to realize that I had a nurturing side.
Obama speaks in Asheville, N.C. (Asheville Citizen-Times photo)
Ok, I know this is not supposed to be a blog that endorses a particular candidate or party – I’m finding information about a movement that seeks to go beyond parties and ideologies. But I’m going to be honest – I am a Barack Obama supporter. I’m not supporting him just because he is a Democrat either. I truly think he is very close to being a transpartisan and wants to unify our country. When I found out he was speaking at a rally today in Asheville, N.C., I had to be there. The rally was only an hour from my home in Sylva and I wanted to see the man. I also thought the rally would be a good experience for my 12-year-old son.
The research continues – I’m finding plenty of sites pertaining to the transpartisan movement, but very few that seem to be of high quality. My pick for best quality today is the Liberty Coalition site. The site does a very good job of explaining the Liberty Coalition’s purpose which is to work, organize and promote transpartisan public policy related to civil liberties and basic rights. According to the site, the Liberty Coalition is working to promote an electronic bill of rights, a patient quality of care project and a medical privacy coalition. I was intrigued by the site’s link “Grass Roots Solution” only to click on it and find no content. I also clicked on the “Events” link only to find a blank calendar. Despite these drawbacks, the Liberty Coalition site does provide a good overview of the organization’s mission, goals and projects, as well as ways for interested citizens to take action. The whole time I spent reading the site, I couldn’t help thinking that the Coalition is really a Libertarian organization, since there are so many references to personal liberties. I’m sure many Libertarians may identify with the Coalition’s work.
Reuniting America is an example of a good website dealing with the transpartisanship movement. Based on my readings, this organization is closely aligned with the Transpartisanship Alliance. Like some other sites, Reuniting America does a good job of explaining what transpartisanship is and provides a link to transpartisan events. Some of these include last September’s Third Conference on Democracy in America and the Transpartisan Dialogue on Iran. Numerous other events are listed and the links provide some detail about what was talked about. So many of the sites I have come across merely define transpartisanship and provide a bit of information about what the movement attempts to accomplish. This site actually talks about some events and some of the issues discussed, such as family-centered policies and national energy problems. The site also has a clean, professional design and is easy to navigate.