The New Age of Politics This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

Generally, politicians are seen as suit-and-tie, press-conference-on-CNN type people. However, now politicians are trying to be more current with our American culture by using none other than … the Internet. Is this new strategy good, or is it completely ineffective? The reality is that advertising and media sources are beginning to shift from print and television to the Internet. Therefore, a politician’s use of the World Wide Web is not only the most effective way to reach voters, it is the method of the future.

With the 2008 presidential election just around the corner, alternative media sources are becoming more popular in politics. Candidates are using blogs, YouTube, and online chats to try to persuade voters. There are, of course, the official campaign websites, which usually provide information about the candidates’ views, right at the voter’s fingertips. Additionally, candidates including Barack Obama have created informational pages on social networking websites like MySpace. Obama’s page includes his views on campaign issues, videos of his speeches, and a listing of his 314,000 “friends.”

There are many other ways that candidates are trying to connect to voters. Last summer, CNN and YouTube hosted an unprecedented Democratic debate. The candidates answered questions posted by people from all over the world through YouTube. In November, the Republican candidates had a similar debate.

Using the Internet, as these candidates have been, creates a more approachable and personal environment. Since the majority of Americans have access to the Internet, why pay the extra $1.25 to buy the print version of The New York Times? Learning from these political candidate-endorsed websites is cheaper – for you and the politicians. This is also creating a personal environment, because the politicians can connect to a greater number of voters than they might at a rally in Iowa. Voters who ask questions and then watch the response via video message can gauge the candidate’s concern.

Although politicians are trying to use the Internet as a way to connect to more citizens, some skepticism exists about how influential and persuasive these websites actually are. According to the Current Population Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2004, 72 percent of people 55 and older voted, while a mere 47 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds voted. Generally, the typical Internet user is not between 65 and 74 years old since studies show that only 41 percent of this age group use the Internet. Therefore, many think that politicians cannot target their most reliable voters via the Internet. Although this may seem true, 82 percent of young voters use the Internet, so politicians are essentially targeting this age group through a very familiar media source. Because of this, politicians’ new market strategy should increase voter turnout.

The advantages of adapting to the ever-changing American culture outweigh the disadvantages. The use of the Internet by politicians is not just about being hip or up-to-date. It is about supporting advances in society and being able to take advantage of the choices technology offers us. Due to a decreasing level of attention to TV commercials, politicians need to adapt and create a healthy transition to the Internet, which will inevitably influence our society.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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Bethani said...
Mar. 28, 2010 at 8:40 pm
i agree 100% !
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