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The Internet Has Changed Politics in The 21st Century Forever

Revolutions are sweeping the globe, but not just in the halls of power. The Internet is providing humanity with a tool to let its voice be heard. An award winning computer educator shows how technology and politics are merging.

Image by George Cassutto
Copyright 2011
Used with permission

If you are over thirty, you might remember what our world was like without the Internet. Computers and information technology have revolutionized communication around the world. The advent of the Internet has led to related revolutions in others areas of communication such as cell phone technology and the growth of e-commerce as part of a global economy. It is undeniable, then, that the Internet Revolution has led to changes in the areas of politics and government that may not be obvious to the average citizen, but these changes will have wide-ranging consequences around the world from here on out.

Politicians now recognize that Internet technology must be part of their battle plan or they risk losing the election. Candidates must reach out to the most underutilized demographic group in the electorate: the young. People ages 18 to 35 are the least politically active but they are the most tech-savvy when compared with other age groups. Any candidate who wants to mobilize millions of voters in that age group must be able to reach them using the World Wide Web, cell phones, and social media websites such as Youtube, Facebook and Twitter.

The Impact of the Internet on Presidential Elections

The Internet-savvy award among modern politicians goes to the current US President, Barack Obama. During the 2008 campaign, Obama used the Internet to get his message out and to raise a record amount of money, roughly $600 million. Obama amassed his war chest through small credit card donations from average Americans using the World Wide Web. Once he made to the Oval Office, the White House communications team put the Internet to work to get President Obama’s agenda in front of his supporters and his opponents as well. The White House puts the President’s weekly address on YouTube, and they publish a blog called “West Wing Week” to inform the public about what the President is doing for them in the White House. The White House has had its own email address since the Internet went mainstream about twenty years ago. Members of Congress also have their own websites and ways for constituents to communicate electronically.

It’s not just TV anymore

The winner of the 2012 election will most likely be the candidate who uses the Internet and its related media to the best advantage. In the 21st century, electronic media work together to complement each other, and candidates must be able to exploit that interoperability between media. TV ads always display websites where viewers can go to learn more, to corroborate claims, and to donate campaign contributions. Political Action Committees can use unlimited amounts of money to develop issue ads that support various candidates, and these ads can appear on both TV and on the Web. Ads also appear on smart phone content, which makes up another way to get a candidate’s message in front of the voting public. News organizations now measure public reaction to political events by way of Facebook discussion boards and Twitter feeds. Even C-SPAN, the public affairs channel often seen as pretty dry, now has its own discussion board on Facebook and receives viewer input via Twitter.

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