Our View: The war of the web

DKS Editors

By now you’ve probably either seen or heard of Change.gov, President-elect Barack Obama’s transition Web site, which launched almost immediately following the election’s end last week.

Obama used the Internet to mobilize supporters throughout his campaign, setting new standards for the use of technology in politics. He even announced his running mate choice in a text message, so it’s not surprising that he chose a Web site such as Change.gov, which includes inauguration information, blogs, news releases and instructions for job applicants, among other things, to launch the beginning of his administration.

Obama based his campaign on the idea that all Americans must work together to improve our country and has made it clear that he views his victory as only the beginning of movement for a social change in the United States. He inspired Americans across the country, most visibly college students, to become part of his campaign, and it was their work that won him the White House. Change.gov appears to be a nod to them and to the understanding that the historic nature of his presidency will drive many people to seek jobs within his administration and tickets to his inauguration.

In a Slate.com story published Monday, reporter Farhad Manjoo wrote about how Obama may use the Web once in office. Change.gov’s original content may only be the beginning, he wrote.

“Democratic Web guru Joe Trippi and others believe that the White House Web site will transform into a social network – a kind of Facebook for citizens, a place where people can learn about and work toward passing the president’s agenda.”

The challenge now is getting people away from their computers and into their communities. Engaging Americans has become more and more difficult lately, but the “change” Obama brought to the United States is only getting started. Like him or not, Obama revolutionized the way politics are viewed in this country. He made great strides through his campaign and forced his opposition to try to keep up.

And so, the Republican Party launched RepublicanForAReason.com earlier this week. The site, aimed at rallying young Republicans, is set up similar to Obama’s campaign Web site – focusing on individual effort, forward thinking and grassroots activism.

The days of old white men making party decisions in smoke-filled rooms may be gone for now. But is this all a farce? Cynics might say these Web sites are merely a new kind of public relations propaganda and increase sentimentality, not actual social change.

Only time will tell. Regardless, it’s exciting to know that the political parties are looking for some way to engage young people. If Obama’s campaign did anything, it showed the world that the United States is not to be taken for granted. It also gave politicians a reason to reach out to our generation.

Now it’s just a matter of what they do with our attention.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board, whose members are listed to the left.