Technology marches down the passing of time evolving and progressing sometimes faster than others. In the past eight years, we have experienced one of the growth spurts of communication using this technology, and it is worth the time to look at how it has affected the role of our leaders in the government and how they have incorporated it into their campaign. This serves not only as a history lesson but also as a peek into how our future leaders may one day adapt to the nuances of technology.
Consider how President Obama was the first to use social media actively during his presidency. Granted, Facebook was founded in 2004 just four years before Obama’s election, but one could say he hit the ground running as he employed it in his first campaign and excelled using it during his second campaign. Not only has Obama been actively present in his social media channels but also his wife, Michelle Obama, has been active with her efforts. It comes as little surprise that the President would be so keen as to attain internet access for all the American people as it has been the medium for much of what he has done.
This approach has been done before several times. Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first to use avenues of public relations to target his followers successfully. He instituted the “fireside chats” to reach out to the American people at a time when the percentage of people with access to a radio increased from 40% in 1933 to 90% by the end of the decade. FDR was one of the most popular Presidents as he was elected to a total of four terms as President. The advent of television brought new opportunities, and Kennedy was the one to take advantage of that as well. The presidential debates leading up to his election were the first to be televised to a national audience. Kennedy’s youth and vitality won the affection of the people and their vote as he contrasted the pale older-looking Nixon. Many viewers, in fact, mentioned the difference between the two and polled Kennedy the winner of the debates notwithstanding the actual discussion on the issues.
Television, newspapers (online mostly) and radio (to a lesser degree) still play a major role in the way the American people see their leaders. The aptitude with which they use these mediums is usually a defining factor of their success. The goal then of these individuals is to single out the media consumed by their target audience and then “hit” it in an attempt to securely keep their constituents under their wing.
Humans are curious, and they love to consume new information; without getting too philosophical, it is what makes humans human. Humans also prefer hearing things that satisfy and agree with their pre-conceived notions on issues or look to people whom they idolize for these decisive factors. This extends to many things ranging from politics to consumerism. The age-old tactic of targeting the media these audiences consume is not dead. It is at the greatest it has ever been. As such, the successful politician will be the one who can best relate to his people and knows how to communicate as they do.