Obama=The Tech President?

The Bush and Dean campaigns in 2004 revolutionized the way tech was used in politics, and the Obama campaign built upon the revolutionary rise of social networking to solve the free rider problem (at least for one campaign. Bush didn’t continue to heavily use tech to communicate with voters and the public, but it looks like Obama will (granted, Bush didn’t have a re-election fight ahead of him after ‘o4, but perhaps it could have spared him many of the PR disasters in his second term). 

One big news item: President Obama will get to keep his Blackberry, thanks to a super duper double secret encryption package. Many analysts thought that Obama would be unable to have his beloved device due to FOIA and security concerns, but if there’s anything that Obama and his people are, it’s persistent. Also new to this administration: an official White House blog, which went live just shortly after the swearing in. Time will tell if this project falls apart like the efforts of most elected officials, but it’s promising nevertheless. 

Obama is also taking advantage of technology to begin work on his re-election bid. Mashable.com has a run-down of ten different ways that Obama is using to connect with voters both to govern and to win. Obama has also begun the Organzing for America Project under the auspices of the DNC: 

The new group will work within the Democratic National Committee — led by Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine — to advance the Obama agenda. “President-elect Obama has laid the foundation to meet the great challenges facing our nation, but we can succeed only if we build grassroots support for the administration’s agenda,” said Kaine in a release announcing the formation of Organizing for America.

The new group had been long expected within Obama’s inner circle and, although no details on how it would be staffed were released by the transition office today, it is expected that longtime Obama loyalists will be placed in charge — following the blueprint set out at the DNC.

It’s clear that Obama recognizes the power that his email list, which boasts more than 13 million names, represents in American politics and is working to ensure it stays within the control of a small group who are charged with protecting the Obama brand.

The big question is if Obama will be able to translate his success into long-term use for the Democratic Party. It seems like his network didn’t do much good in the 46th. Was the Obama success with networking a one-time event fueled in part by his cult of personality? Time will tell. 

But for the time being, people on this side of the aisle are trying to see if there’s a way we can use technology to our advantage. Two groups out there working on it: Rebuild the Party and The Next Right.

The big question: Will the establishment listen to us Young Turks?

We can only hope that 2008 is to the right as 2004 was to the left.

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