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Candidates:
Barack Obama
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Media & Internet, Activism & Protest
 

At the conservative activist blog The Next Right, Jonathan Klingler takes a closer look at the Change.gov website created by Team Barack Obama this week, arguing that it is once again a smart initiative from the campaign that had the best Internet infrastructure in history.

The main strength of the change.gove is, Klingler rightfully argues, that it allows visitors to participate in the political debate, just as BarackObama.com, the official campaign website, did. It allows visitors to become actively involved in the debate, in the government and to organize themselves in communities that tackle national, state, regional and local problems.

As Klingler explains, change.gov could very well be used to bypass the mainstream media in times of hardship; it will be a tremendous tool for the new president to reach voters, unhindered by the filter of MSM, if that would ever proof necessary.

Change.gov is still being developed, but I already noticed some things no one else seems to have noticed yet. For instance, and this is important: you can now register at change.gov by filling in the questions in the top right corner (e-mail address and zip code). Once you register, you are referred to a new page where you can send an invitation to your friends to register as well. To make it easier for you you to do so, and this is yet another sign of the Internet smarts of Team Obama, you can import your e-mail contacts. I tried it myself by sending an invitation to several people, among whom the Managing Editor and Assistant Editors of this site; it seems to have worked quite well.

The following message was sent to those individuals:

Hey,

President-Elect Obama is hard at work getting this country back on track, but he’s counting on all of us to get involved.

I just signed up to learn more about the presidential transition, and I thought you might want to do the same.

Just visit http://www.change.gov, and enter your e-mail address in the top right corner.

Thanks.

Aside from Change.gov yet another initiative was launched recently, which also aims at working with grassroots in order to ‘improve’ the nation. WhiteHouse2.org is a site very similar to digg, but then only about policy questions. This site is not an official part of any one campaign but it is used to rally the troops and to influence policy.

Visitors can vote for and suggest policies they would like to see implemented. These policies will then be ’suggested’ to President Barack Obama. Leading examples of such policy suggestions at the time of writing this article were “kill the Patriot Act” with 402 recommendations, “stop the Iraq War” with 380 recommendations, and “shut down Guantanamo” with 329 recommendations. Another very popular one was “energy independence in seven years.”

Visitors can endorse suggestions by clicking on the “endorse” button. If they attempt to do so for the first time, they have to register first, in a very fast and simple procedure taking 10 seconds or so. After this, they can endorse as many suggestions as they want, and they can share their own ideas.

Although Team Obama has no official ties to the website, it seems reasonable to suggest that they would focus on it and use it to their benefit nonetheless in the coming years: considering the high degree of Internet outreach by the campaign during and before the election, and the creation of change.gove afterwards, WhiteHouse2.org seems to fit right into the Obama play of reaching out to voters in new, untried ways.

Even if Team Obama does not do so, it could learn from WhiteHouse2.org and create a similar website, or a similar page on change.gov, which would increase people’s participation in the political process tremendously, which seems to be a key goal of the president-elect.

Changes are indeed coming, if not necessary in politics, than at least in the way politicians deal with the public and reach out to them over the heads of the mainstream media.

In the meantime, Team Obama announced at the old campaign website BarackObama.com that this website would continue to function in the coming years in order to help citizens “organize locally” to improve their neighborhoods, villages and cities.

“The online tools in My.BarackObama will live on.  Barack Obama supporters will continue to use the tools to collaborate and interact.  Our victory on Tuesday night has opened the door to change, but it’s up to all of us to seize this opportunity to bring it about,” the team said in the statement.

“In the coming days and weeks, there will be a great deal more information about where this community will head.”

There is Change.gov, BarackObama.com and other options such as WhiteHouse2.org for the Obama campaign to use to keep in touch with grassroots, to organize locally, regionally and nationally, and to assemble e-mail lists of potential donors for future campaigns. Obama’s campaign and behavior in the aftermath indicate that Obama may very well be the first politician who truly understands the power of the Internet, and who is determined to use it in order to bring the “change” he talked about so frequently during the campaign.

©2008 PoliGazette. All Rights Reserved.

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