I have always had a strong fascination for American politics.
In 1967, when given the choice to immigrate to a new country, my father chose Canada while the rest of his siblings choose the United States of America. Thus, the imaginary line of the 49th parallel separate me from my extended family. Although I cannot claim to fully understand how the American political system works, I am drawn to its lively banter driven by a deeply embedded belief in free speech, it's charismatic leadership and the sharp left and right wing party divisions. I have found myself watching the televised presidential debates in the last few weeks - not for reasons for nothing else to watch on TV but rather due to my beliefs that what happens in America impacts us as Canadians.
With the federal election only one week away I have found my interest intensified in looking at how technology and social media is used in the political realm. More specifically, I wanted to see how Obama is using it to support his campaign.
Out of curiosity I took the time to search out Barack Obama's Official Election Blog as well as his Tumblr site (http://www.barackobama.com/news and http://barackobama.tumblr.com/). Both are chock full of media and content related to key election issues (ex. healthcare, unemployment/job creation, and finances). Not surprising, it also has endorsements from well-known political figures as well as the “everyday” American urging voters to re-elect Obama into his second term. They also contain focused video footage of Obama on the campaign trail.
Current projections of election results have voters split between Obama and Romney, making this election too close to declare a front-runner. Every American media source, whether print or digital has in the last few months has narrowed down its scope and content to center upon the election. However, with the unexpected arrival of Hurricane Sandy this weekend, election news and focus have been temporarily put on hold.
As I watch the news on CNN, the criticism for each candidate in altering his campaign travel plans in response to the storm surprises me. From this, I am again reminded of how highly Americans value free speech. Obama (as he is still President) needs to attend to his presidential duties while Romney continues to speak at scheduled events. Whether this will work out in the favor of either candidate is to be seen. Obama’s handling of this weather event will either boost the likelihood of his reelection or undermine it. Hurricane Sandy has added an unexpected element to this election.
As a proud Canadian, I continue to work out my fascination with American politics.
- Is it because we are constantly inundated with American news?
- Is it because social media has made it readily accessible to us?
- Is it because a large part of my family is American?