Tag Archives: Obama

New Media and Politics

Today, my friend Beth Harte and I sat down with Stephanie Abrams from CBS3 here in Philadelphia, to talk a bit about the political climate and how blogs and new media were effecting the election.

Beth and I got to chat for a few minutes after as well.  While I support the Democrats and she the Republicans, I think we are both pretty middle of the road people, with very similar points of view on many issues, and I think this is where most people are- in the center of the bell shaped curve, perhaps falling a bit to the right or left, but not very extreme in any of their viewpoints.

For example, we both agree that the fun and snarky comments online can get pretty out of hand and nasty sometimes, and this does nothing to help either “sides” case- that their candidate is the best one for the job.  We can probably both agree that if you are extremely partisan, it’s easy to just read conservative or liberal blogs, and live in an echo chamber that just magnifies your already entrenched point of view.  What’s harder to do is find decent, reasoned voices and opinions, that take the time to talk about facts (as we know them) and build a reasonable and rational case for either party or candidate.

In recent posts, I’ve talked about how I am not a big fan of Sarah Palin- not because I am some June Cleaver throwback, but I do believe it’s perfectly okay to be a mom and a working person, but I also acknowledge that doing two things at once means often feeling pulled in two directions, and it’s not particularly fun.  I think women can have it all, but the caveat to that is we can’t necessarily have it all at the same time.  We like to pretend everything is rosy and perfect, but being a working Mom is often like having two full time jobs, and only one pays you money, while the other pays you in emotional currency.

But regardless of my position on issues, or Beth’s, we can both agree that having a good new media strategy is essential.  Candidates need to understand we are living in times where hiding the bad news only makes it worse, and being authentic and human is the only way to deal with a changing media landscape.  Those that fail to realize this are taking a very big risk indeed.

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Political Theater

The Political conventions are coming up, and we’re all waiting to see who the candidates pick as their Vice President.  Reporters and journalists are camped out in front of Joe Biden’s house, just a few miles away,  and I am sure this scene is being repeated at all other contenders homes, just in case.

I worry that the Conventions are no longer substantive, but just several days of media created stage craft.  Previews of the convention site make it look more like a Super Bowl half-time show than a stage for discussing the future of our Country.  And I think the money being spent to convince people of one candidate over another is becoming all about effective marketing and less about substance, which is a worry.  Because flash over substance is what got us into this debacle in the first place.

In Delaware,  the locals are both bemused and slightly aghast at the local version of this Show (and Wilmington is historically one of those popular places to try out shows before they hit Broadway) .  A friend of mine is driving her son to track practice at the school within 500 yards from Senator Biden’s house, and said she hopes the brouhaha is long over by the time school starts.  I drove by to see the fuss and ran into New Media Jim, a cameraman from NBC News, so we came back later and dropped off cold drinks and snacks for them.  It’s like a line for fantastic concert tickets, with everyone camping out for days, waiting for the box office to open.

The drama and the wait is fun on some levels- what will it be?  But the days on end of speculation end up seeming a bit silly, really.  There will be a VP candidate, and while I hope it is Biden- I worry that coming from such a small state like Delaware, he might get passed up for someone who has more “prizes” attached to him.

I can’t say that I know Joe Biden very well.  Like all politicians in Delaware, he is very personal, and we see him all the time, at local eateries and coffee shops.  I saw him the day after the Iowa caucuses where he closed his presidential bid, having coffee and I spoke with him for a few minutes.  I thanked him for all the help he’s given the hospital where my husband works and does clinical research.  Joe is a pleasant guy, and while he is a political legend both in Delaware and nationally, he still is just Joe around here.

Delaware has 2 senators and one congressman; two democrats and one republican (respectively).  They are all friends and commute to DC together regularly.  Delaware is so small you have to know not only how to reach across the aisle, but you also know everything you say or do is public, all the time.  Everywhere you go, you run into someone you know, or someone who knows someone you know- the Peyton Place of States.  Also a place with very long memories- people remember who you were as a child or when you first came to town, who your friends were- it’s real life social networking, whether you like it or not.

(For example, a friend was once complaining about another person we both knew in line for a theater performance; her best friend was standing behind her, and word got back very quickly.  My response?  Typical Delaware.  If you have to do character assassination of someone, do it at home, not in public.)

Hopefully, this means Joe will not have any John Edwards problems, and will be the same stand-up guy with a devotion to being a straight shooter, who comes from a State too small to be overly partisan, where pragmatism ends up ruling the day.

Good Luck, Joe.  I hope it’s you.

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