Sunday, September 13, 2009

Obama and Government 2.0

The New York Times reports today on Barack Obama’s use of social media tools as a way of opening Washington politics to the influence of greater political participation ('Athens' on the Net)

Titled “Government 2.0,” citizens now have unprecedented access to information and a myriad number of forums available for registering their opinions, thoughts and ideas about governmental policy and performance.

I wrote about the President’s social media strategy in the 2008 presidential campaign and discussed Obama’s current application of lessons learned in a conference paper I presented this summer at the World Congress of Political Science (Solop, 2009)

What strikes me as most important in the discussion of this topic is not how new social media tools are now available to citizens to register their concerns. What I think is most important is how Obama is using these tools to actively organize citizens in support of his policy agenda. Obama is bringing us into an era of the perpetual campaign where mobilization occurs throughout the year, not just during election season.

Is this a new approach to democracy in the United States? Or, are we harkening back to how democracy used to look before everyone grew weary and cynical of politics? Will Obama be successful in his efforts to keep the public perpetually mobilized?

Keep an eye on the health care reform debate as the first major litmus test for gauging the success of this new approach.

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