Blog 11: is being a democratic citizen now the same as it was in the past?
Being a democratic citizen in 2011 does not mean the same as it did when my parents were in their early 20s, simply due to the advancements of new media and the revitalisation of politics in this digital age. In today’s age, new media is used to activate voters. Individuals have a more direct role in campaigns, which allow for a seemingly closer relationship between voters, candidates, and even political parties.
During the presidential campaign in 2008, the candidates were able to reach voters on a more personal level. For example, Obama utilized Facebook, Twitter, mass text messaging and email to reach many of the younger citizens. With these new campaigning tactics, democratic citizens felt like they were more involved and felt like they actually knew Obama. Instead of established elites dominating political input, like they did in the days of my parents and grandparents, new user-driven technologies (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc…) have now allowed interaction to be seen as promoting the voice of the mass population.
If citizens miss an important speech or debate on TV, they can watch what they missed on their own time on the Internet. My parents and grandparents certainly did not have this luxury when they were in their 20s. When political speeches etc… were aired on TV, there was no way of ever catching that information again. So it feels as if democratic citizens in today’s age can be more involved in political issues because they can view them on their own time whenever they want.
A major difference in political involvement in the times of my parents and in 2011 is the way in which people communicate and promote political issues. Citizen-campaigning has become much more predominate in modern times. For example, in the past, individuals were called by the telephone and asked to send money or pledge their support to a particular candidate. However, in present times people are offered the means to spread the information themselves (through media like social networking sites) which produces more socially driven political action. Institutions and elites (for the most part) do not necessarily drive political action during modern campaigns, as they once used to do.