Politics and the Internet
It is the general idea that the Internet is now one of the most popular sources and media outlets for elections and campaigning. Some people consider that it will soon be used even for electronic voting. Therefore, the scope of this paper is to examine the influence of the Internet on American politics and election process. Moreover, this paper will analyze different aspects of Internet’s influence on politics, fundraising of modern candidates, identifying its negative and positive impact, etc.
Nowadays, the Internet is considered to be a powerful tool of political socialization because of the immense amount of information accessible online. In comparison to television and press, it has less censorship. Not only do people get significant information about government and political parties from blogs and websites, but they also post their responses to what they read and leave comments. The significance of Internet surveys is now an undeniable fact, as they are now widely used in election campaigns. As a matter of fact, candidates use Facebook to communicate with their supporters. Mostly, politicians use the Internet for political expression and networking. Moreover, Internet platforms allow users to post their comments and support for their political candidates, link to candidates’ websites, share videos, photos, and comments, and express opinions. Those people who are usually indifferent to the political event can be more involved in the political process (Boehlert 55).
Nowadays, the Internet also plays a crucial role in fundraising political campaigns. In fact, Internet fundraising campaigns of politicians beyond simple sites and active collecting of money from supporters was actually the fact which attracted most of the attention by American political scientists. The Internet fundraising campaigns allow people to support their political candidates financially and influence the election campaign. Having watched the video about Ron Paul’s political election campaign, one can claim that his success was immensely influenced by the financial support of his followers. The same happened to Barack Obama, Howard Dean, and many other politicians during their political campaigns (Klotz 32).
Electronic advertising of political candidates is also of immense importance. In informational age, it has become, however, more complicated, as political campaigns try to disseminate their advertisements through multiple platforms. Usually, candidates release their adverts on political parties’ and candidates’ websites, as well as video platforms, such as YouTube. Advertisements are also published on blogs and websites. Electronic advertising helps candidates control their image, set the issue agenda, and establish their campaign theme. Moreover, they are designed in order to reach out to those voters who have not decided yet as to who they are going to support. Negative advertisements are also widely used in campaigns, as they might be effective in creating negative perception and views of opponents, allowing voters to choose between the candidates (Paletz 55).
Young people, especially those who are 18-25 years old, more than other age groups use the Internet to participate in politics and learn more about it. Although, the number of older people going online for politics is constantly growing. As a matter of fact, young people develop their political identity online because it is online where they find all the useful information about the candidates and political parties, as well as read information about political events and issues. Moreover, young people use social networking websites to create online communities organized in political purposes, campaign for candidates, and lobby government (Paletz 57).
It has been asserted that the Internet provides people with excellent opportunities to express their political views, as well as express protest and disobedience. Therefore, such interactive campaign tactics as blogs and live chat sessions are extremely important for the effective campaign tools. These tools can be used to organize people online, recruit new participants, spread information, and prove information about current events. People who are geographically situated in different parts of the country can share strategies and stories, and influence the campaign. Moreover, people can join the live chat with the candidate, which is rather positive, as it helps them to learn more about the political views of the candidate and decide if he or she is the one whom they will support (Klotz 63).
As far as Internet’s influence on the level of accountability for candidates to deliver on their promises is concerned, one should mention that Internet positively impacts this level. The candidate mostly relies on his or her Internet supporters. Therefore, the candidate is responsible for his promises and candidate’s political campaign mostly depends on the political and financial support of his or her followers. If the candidate does not deliver his promises, he or she will not be supported.
Nevertheless, besides the positive influence of the Internet on political campaigns, it also has some negative consequences and risks. It is well-known that the Internet gives an opportunity to send e-mails, which contain negative information, endorsements, and policy pronouncements. Consequently, there is a lot of political content of different kind on the Internet, which can overwhelm voters with information. Moreover, voters are sometimes not well informed about the election process, due to different websites and hacking programs. Journalists usually particularly careful in checking the information accuracy, but the bloggers can easily disseminate political information without checking it. Therefore, candidates must be very careful in their comments and speeches to avoid misunderstandings (Klotz 78).
In summary, it is important to note that Internet’s role in political campaigns is extremely significant. The Internet expands the voters’ mind about the political campaigns and activates their political conscience. It is widely used among young people who learn most of the information from the Internet. Social networking sites, political sites, and Internet platforms are proved to be the most effective tools for political campaigns. For the effective campaigning, candidates need good advertising and funding, which can also be raised online. Despite some risks waiting for candidates and voters, the Internet is still a powerful tool of socialization and politics. Therefore, it will possibly be advanced in the future, so in couple years, the government may conduct voting process through the Internet.