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BLOG 10: Republic.com 2.0

April 13, 2011 1 comment

Republic.com 2.0 presents too much information for me to handle.  One chapter of this book is probably enough to occupy my mind for a while.  But I think I understand the main idea.  When I started reading this book, the first connection I made was to the book Bowling Alone by Robert Putnam.  I haven’t actually read Putnam’s book, but have heard summaries in various classes.  Both support the idea that people are becoming increasingly isolated and this is a threat to democracy.  Cass Sunstein’s Republic.com 2.0 focuses more on how an ideal citizen should participate in democracy through media while Putnam’s book emphasizes the value of face-to-face interactions.  Both of these converge on the idea of deliberative democracy, which was probably my favorite discussion of Sunstein’s book.  He reminds us that our system of government is slow for a reason-true democracy in which everyone has an equal vote would not only be impossible for a country like the United States, it would be chaos.  An effective government cannot bend to popular passions.  I think much of the frustration and anger people feel toward the government comes from expecting the government to respond more quickly to local or even individual demands.

Two other books that came to mind when reading Sunstein’s were Generation Me, which was the book selected for Mizzou’s summer reading program and Generation We, a book that I found online.  As you can guess from the titles, these books make opposite claims.  The former, by Jean M. Twenge, claims that today’s young Americans are more self-interested than previous generations.  Eric Greenberg, author of Generation We, in contrast proclaims:

Generation We – the Millenials – has arrived.  They have emerged as a powerful political and social force.  Their huge numbers and progressive attitudes are already changing America.  And the World.

Greenberg is much more optimistic about the current state of citizen participation than either Sunstein or Twenge.  In Greenberg’s words above is a claim that the rising generation of citizens and politicians are active.  This is important to Sunstein as well, who quotes Brandeis:

…the greatest menace to freedom is an inert people…

The idea of citizen movement and the distinction that Sunstein attempts to make between citizens and consumers is probably my least favorite part of the book.  Sunstein tries to separate citizenship from consumerism, but I don’t think this is possible.  Humans react to incentives and we are too enmeshed in consumerism as a culture.  We need only to look to the book The Selling of the President to be reminded of how American politics have developed in such a way to essentially buy votes.  The last presidential campaign was an incredible effort the appealed to the consumer in citizens by providing a packaged brand.  I’m sure no other president has had so many t-shirts or posters printed with his face.

 

 

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All this being said, I do think that Sunstein’s push for people to consume media from sources that they wouldn’t ordinarily is a great suggestion.  Before this semester I didn’t have a Twitter account because I didn’t understand the benefit.  Now, I log on every day to catch up with news from multiple sources and end up following links to stories that I wouldn’t normally seek or want to read.  I believe this helps broaden my horizons, as the cliche goes, and genuinely better equips me to actively participate in deliberative democracy.

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Blog 9: Politics Online

April 6, 2011 1 comment

My first thought when I read this blog topic was that, of course online politics are the same as “real life” politics. Politics are politics no matter where it’s shown, right? And aren’t we getting to the point where we’re just happy that people are interested in politics? Hear me out and I think I’ll be able to convince you otherwise, just like I was able to do in my own head!

This semester we’ve talked a lot about what goes into campaigning, from the Nixon election to the Obama election, and what is something that’s always seems to be evident? The whole idea of image perception. Now I know that these things can be construed through the internet, but not nearly as good as in real life. Think about a conversation that you have with someone on facebook chat and now think about a conversation that you had with the same person face to face. Completely different, huh? When things are portrayed online you miss out on expressions, tone of voice, and body language; all things that are extremely important when it comes to forming opinions of others. Another example would be online dating websites, that’s the same thing right? I wouldn’t ever be able to go off of a profile and picture alone when it comes to a relationship. There are just so many other factors that I take into consideration revolving around finding a partner, most of which can’t be displayed through an online website.

But what are the implications for politics online? The main thing that I can see is that there are so many sources for political information and if you aren’t highly informed on politics and just wanted to read up on something you could easily come across something on the internet that might not have any truth to it! Anyone can put information out there on the internet. Take a look at Wikipedia…when Matt Painter was being offered the head basketball coaching position here it Mizzou Wikipedia prematurely put it on his bio that he was already signed as the next head coach. Now if someone who knew nothing about the subject happened to stumble across his page and saw that they would assume that he was announced the

head coach, and then they would tell their friends, and their friends would tell their friends, and then a wildfire of false information has been created all because of a website that was wrong!

So politics online can be effective to a certain extent but there definitely has to be more to it. If something can be photo shopped to look like this then the limitations of online networking can be limitless, to a point of destruction!

March 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Ooohhhh The Colbert Report. Ahhhhh the The Daily Show. The Political Takeover has began. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert (and their executives of course) have changed the way individuals receive political news as well as the audiences involved in this process.

So, IS IT POLITICAL NEWS?

Of course it is. Good Political News really has two jobs. The first is to present the facts. Of course this takes you into a WHOLE different discussion about left wing vs. right wing, political biases from network to network, or maybe even selective exposure in political awareness. The fact remains, the job of good political news is to present facts. The second job is to present sources to help the audiences do further research and form their own opinions.

Looking past the satirical approach to the news both Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert do a fine job of these two jobs. And lets be honest – who doesn’t want entertaining news coverage (other than that straight faced guy three rows back with the glasses and the ascot on) – I’m just saying.

Is this presentation biased?

Of course it is. It is written and presented in a way that REGULAR people can understand and relate. (Probably wasn’t expecting that were you?) These satirical presentations are categorized as comedy to most. Comedy is an art form to where your average Joe (and Jane for the ladies) can comprehend. It is about time there is a presentation of news that doesn’t speak in the language of a specific people but in the language of people period.

These men want you to have just as much fun as they do. They want you to learn just as much as they do. If President Obama can joke with these men we can laugh – it is not un-American.

Blog 8 : What is political News

March 21, 2011 Leave a comment
Bimber says that everything is political information that includes fact or opinion. If that is the case then shows like the Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report should be considered as television programs that broadcast political news and information. From previous blogs I’ve come to the conclusion that most people looked for their news to be given to them in a humorous way, and t think that that the producers and directors of these shows were geniuses to think of a way to broadcast political news in a way that people could understand and still find entertaining.
I must be honest and say that I have never really took the time to watch a full episode of either show, and the last time i watched Jon Stewart thoroughly he was playing a lawyer on Big Daddy. So I took this blog as a challenge to start watching it to get a full understanding of what the shows are all about.  I thought it was hilarious but still informative. A lot of the issues they’ve talked about are being talked about on the news. I love the way sarcasm is used and it’s an entertaining way to talk about important issues.
The show doesn’t seem very biased because, they make fun of all politics in general. It’s funny the way they clips and footage from news stations like FOX, ABC, MSNBC, CNN and just commenting off what everyone has said. It’s not as if they are making false stories, but just going off what is already out there. These shows can definitely promote political participation because they are informing a generation that is not very keen of watching the news to important issues that they should be aware of. These shows allow people to know what’s going on in their country and the world so when it’s time to vote or talk about issues they are informed. These shows can also urge viewers to be more au courant in their news forums and read more and learn more about issues the show talks about. This clip featured President Obama when he was running for the presidency. To have political candidates appear on your show gives it some credibility and clout.
This was a clip I literally rolled on the floor laughing at concerning the teachers union fiasco that is happening Wisconsin.

Potato Chips vs Politics.

February 21, 2011 1 comment

If any of my Korean friends ask me “what is Americans’ favorite snack?’ Definitely I would say, ‘Potato Chips.’ Then how much money American spends on their favorite snacks?According to the American Snack Food association, potato chips sales are somewhere of $ 3.5 billion in every year, and according to the NPR reporting ‘the 2012 presidential election may catch up with potato chips.

 Sooner than later, you will spend more money on politics than potato chips.

 

In 2008 election, Obama raised historical amount of money for the election, which was about $746 million dollars, and President Obama re-election committee is anticipating to raise more than $1 billion for 2012 campaign as well as GOP is expected to raise similar amount of money for its campaign. It seemed like U.S election is all about money, and as we know, lots of money will be spent for TV advertisement.

In the book ‘Selling of the President’, the author focuses on the Nixon campaign as a primary examples for the birth of TV package advertisement for president candidate; however, the TV advertisement in the president election was actually started from 1952 in which Eisenhower competed with Stevenson. In addition, we might expect that the format, or style of political TV advertisements have been changed a lot since the beginning, but according to the David Schwartz who is a chief curator at the Museum of the Moving image, and has seen almost all of the them said, they are no more than same.

Mr. Schwartz was ‘OnTheMedia’ and said that “For many years the (political) ads sort of stayed the same. They used the same techniques and the same messages. If you were attacking a Democrat you would always say they want to raise your taxes or they’re going to be weak on defense. And if you’re attacking the republicans you can say they don’t care about the working class. They don’t care about people.”

Read more…

Image is Everything

February 21, 2011 1 comment

We’ve been talking about the presidential race between Nixon and Kennedy through our group presentations and we’ve been gaining an understanding of how important “image” was in the success of JFK and the failure of Nixon. After that election, dubbed by many historians as the “advent of the modern Presidential campaign,” the idea of image that would be presented over TV and other mediums would only become more important. In Joe McGinniss’ book, he basically illustrates Nixon’s journey to re-brand himself as a new man from the ’60 election to the ’68 election.

Idealistically, elections would be decided based on the heart of the man and the intentions of the leader, but in this shallow world, the realistic truth is that image is everything. What the public perceives is what their decision relies on, and candidates do everything in their power to control that image. As an student majoring in advertising, I’ve spent most of my time studying the communication of image, and I can understand the immense challenge that presidential hopefuls face in convincing a nation that they can lead. Candidates must focus on communicating specific feelings when addressing the public through TV or other mediums. I see the Obama election of 2008 as a great comparison to Nixon’s of 1968. Both candidates tried to promote feel-good ideas of unity as their core messages (among other things, obviously). Here are two ads from Nixon’s and Obama’s campaigns that were highly successful at establishing their message, and are also eerily similar to each other, both in underlying message and the images shown.

Nixon campaign button, bearing his slogan

The packaging of a president has to be a unified effort. Both in the goal of the candidate to encourage the public to perceive him as a unifying figure, and in the overall consistency of the candidate’s campaign. Nixon’s efforts to achieve that consistent branding in order to change the public’s perception of him draw comparisons to modern election strategies. Nixon used a unified message based on the idea “Nixon’s the One,” and his campaign spread the idea through all possible channels. Similarly, Obama used his phrases such as “Hope” and “Change,” as well as his signature logo to unify his message.

The Obama logo

Though the general unified goal of campaigns has remained relatively consistent over time, there are significant differences in the strategies. In Nixon’s time, there weren’t quite as many mediums through which to communicate. He could correct the mistakes he made with TV in 1960 and change the way he presented himself, but the overall goal of achieving strong message strategy could be covered by focusing on TV, radio, and print, among a few others. Today, candidates have to go through TV, internet, social media, radio, and print, among other mediums. Also, they must be able to navigate the maelstrom that is the 24-7 barrage of news coverage and analysis. In addition, I think the growing diversity of the country has changed the landscape of political communication entirely. Not only must they deliver their message in direct, specific ways, but they are also forced to tailor their message to every conceivable community that this country can create.

Overall, the core idea behind candidates’ campaign strategies has remained relatively consistent, but the ever changing world and the ever growing needs and demands of the public will consistently complicate the process of running for president. However, the political powers will be always vigilant in finding ways to communicate with the people. We can look back at the election of ’68 and wonder where the simplicity of those days went (knowing full well that the politicians of the time would not have felt them to be simple), while at the same time we realize that the essence of the presidential campaign will continue to remain a constant.

 

 

BLOG 3 Changes in Political Campaigns

February 21, 2011 1 comment

Since 1960’s election, the game of politics campaigns have changed forever. There is no doubt when Nixon and Kennedy had their first live televised debate, they were the catalyst to a new era of political campaigning. After reading the McGinniss book, I have noted similarities ad differences in Nixon’s campaign and the recent presidential campaigns.

Since 1960 election, television and controlling media became an essential part of political campaigning. This is one similarity one can find in common from both Nixon’s campaign and recent campaigns. Media is the most crucial element in order to win the election, because candidates can sell themselves through media such as television or radio by creating a public friendly presidential candidate, and ever since the invention of new type of campaigning, public image is everything in election.

In the past, presidential candidates would make a few visits to cities and then ride the policy of the party in order to be elected. Starting with John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon in 1960, less emphasis was put on party policies and more was put directly on the candidate as an individual.For the first time, American publics had the opportunity to become acquaintance with the candidates through television. Therefore people were no longer voting for a person they thought had a good platform but a person they thought a good person.  This is still true in present, or more emphasized than ever before.

As for President Obama’s campaign, there was a lot of focus on his personality and temperance that try to make the public see him as a friendly and caring person, as well as a person who could get a great job done as a president.

However, there have been changes since Nixon. The creation of the internet, following with blogging and social networking has been a very important part of modern political campaigns. Like Television did, Internet brought new dimensions to how people perceive political campaigns. In 2008 election, President Obama’s utilization of internet highlighted and played a huge role bringing him a victory.

“The Internet has changed the game in this year’s US presidential election Campaign” – Former Democratic candidate John Edwards told New York Times after 2008 election.

The New York Times also has an article which compares Obama to Kennedy and shows the similarity between the two.

“One of the Many ways that the election of Barack Obama as a president has echoed that of John. F. Kennedy is his use of a new medium that will forever change politics. For Mr. Kennedy, it was Television. For Mr. Obama, it was the Internet”

Obama’s strategy of using the internet was especially effective to eliciting the younger generation’s attention. With majority of younger American generations, it was pleasing to see a young presidential candidate communicating to them via a medium which has become their everyday life.

What came across in my mind while I was reading the book and working on this post was that the modern era of political campaigning has become increasingly fast-paced, convenient and dynamic. It may seem as we are living in the height of the political campaign, but we certainly should expect for  more innovations of political campaigns in the future election.