.gov (Ch. 11)

Ah the internet. What have you become? We discussed in class how we no longer “surf the web” but more so belong to an online community. I found this funny as I was just discussing this with my friends a few days ago. About how with all the information online, I really just have a rotation of 3-5 websites I visit. Now, some of those sites link me to other sites, but they’re really all I use. Facebook, ESPN, The Drudge Report, MSNBC, Google, and the occasional visit to Yahoo! if I’m ever feeling nostalgic. I guess that’s six, but you don’t have to count Yahoo! if you don’t want. Honestly though, that’s about it. Kind of crazy when you think about how many websites there are, but that’s really all I need.

But once every two years, I branch out. .gov becomes a regular ending for me for about a month out of my life during election seasons. Now, on page 402 of this chapter, it mentions a study from Bruce Blimber and Richard Davis about how candidate websites really don’t influence voters to do anything more than donate money. I disagree pretty strongly with this, and where there’s smoke there’s fire. I use the sites to help make my decision, because half the nonsense we hear on tv is exactly that…nonsense. Learning more about the candidate’s beliefs and intentions and how organized their agenda’s are on their websites helps me decide who to vote for.

Just this past election, I voted for 4 republicans, 2 democrats, one tea party member, and one constitutionalist. The websites allow you to research, and I did. Most people don’t, but you can’t deny that if they are motivated to, that they can. Sure, the site’s are there to raise money, it’s an easy way to do it. Just enter a credit number and you’re done. But the information is there for a reason. Information free of media bias. More stress needs to be put on educating ourselves on our candidate’s and I really think if more people would read what they actually have to say, we’d be less pissed off at them once they’re in office, because we’d know what to expect. E-campaigning. It’s the future. “Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.”

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The Hypodermic Defect

Pulling from Chapter 4 now, we have a lovely little section on the hypodermic effect. One of the most unfortunate impacts of the media we have today (in my humble opinion). Taking us way back to 1937 on page 127, the book tells us a short story about a study done by Harold F. Gosnell. He essentially showed that newspaper endorsements greatly influence the way readers will vote. I don’t find this all that groundbreaking as this seems sort of obvious, but it is still some actual proof to back up this little discussion.

“The mob is fickle, brother” is one of my favorite lines from the movie “Gladiator.” I think it applies here. We can love a candidate one day, but oh gosh if the media uncovers one little soundbite that they don’t approve of, no matter how great of a candidate he has been, we can hate him the next. We can be “bamboozled,” as the book puts it. We can be tricked, persuaded without even knowing it. They can control what we know and what they want us to know by injecting whatever information they choose which in turn, controls voting habits. While of the great things about this country is freedom of the press, it also seems to have become one of the worst.

There is no balance in the press, at least not the popular press we see on TV. To find balance we must hunt for it, online mostly. But too many people are too comfortable with being told what to support, and who to alienate, and which part is going to bring down our beloved country. The media know this, the candidates know this. Suck up to the media, you’ve got a hell of a chance of winning the election. Or at least competing. It is our defect as a country in my opinion. But hey, as long as the freedom gives us outlets to complain about it, it’s still a pretty good thing.

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Technology and Chapter 1(01100010101011001011100110)

So as I’m reading this chapter there is a ton to comment on, but if we’re talking about relevance to the most current happenings in the political spectrum, you have to discuss technology. Technology has changed politics forever. It used to be that you could be a great speaker, a great politician, a war hero, etc. and perhaps that would be enough. But oh no, today as discussed beginning on page 14 of our first chapter you need more than that.

This is most clearly seen in the most recent campaign brilliantly run by the Obama administration during the 2008 presidential election. Now, I did not vote for Obama, but many times over I seriously considered it. Why? His speeches, for one, were nothing short of mesmerizing. The effect he could have on reshaping our image to the rest of the world intrigued me as well. But those aren’t good reasons to pick a president, a leader of your country, you need more than that. So what caught my attention?

The campaign did. The communication with people my age did. He sent texts, he left “personal” voice mails, he sent e-mails, it almost seemed like he had his own Facebook page with all the statuses “he” posted. If this effort to connect nearly won me over, imagine all the people who it did win over. I often say, just half seriously, that he won the election simply due to uneducated 18-25 year old voters that say “like oh my god I just got a text from Barack Obama!!!!!” and subsequently vote for him without actually knowing the issues. You can’t completely deny that, and kudos to him.

A team doesn’t win a championship without a great game plan and the right players to execute it. They certainly had those qualities in their campaign. Technology got him the presidency and brought in a new standard to American politics. It will be interesting to see how this continues to grow in the very near future. Maybe we can Tweet our issues @BarackTheRealObama this time around, or something like that.

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My Political Right(s) [Personal Ideology Response]

Growing up in the politically aware family that I have has always allowed me to continuously shape my political beliefs. My dad always seemed to lead to the right. My mom, while she interned with the Governor of Massachusetts in college (a staunch Democrat), now seems to lean even further to the right than my dad. I guess you could say she “saw the light.” Or so I always thought.

One of the questions on the “Political Compass” quiz asked something along the lines of: “Is it a sign of maturity to fall in line with the establishment as we mature?” Well for me, the answer is absolutely not. That shows more weakness than maturity in my eyes. The majority of my political quizzes pushed me towards libertarian. One even said I was libertarian, but more of the left-wing version. Seems unlikely but, who am I to question?

But maybe that’s what makes me lean that way in the first place. Because I do question. I’m a registered Republican. But I don’t identify myself with any party anymore. I don’t believe the two-party system is working as it was intended to and that sucks, because not enough people will open their eyes to accepting a new party or a new platform.

Economically though, I’m still relatively conservative. I haven’t quite finished but have been reading “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand for a while now (it’s quite long needless to say) and have found a niche for myself in her theories. A right-wing anarchist, as strange as that sounds.

Now I’m not saying I’m a full-blown, putting graffiti ANARCHY A’s on the side of buildings anarchist. Quite frankly those people are creepy, I’m sorry. If you want to make a difference, stop spray painting stuff in the shadows. That just makes us think you’re weird. But yes, back to the point. I favor most right-wing economics (within reason). I think while we’re here to better society as a whole, your main responsibility is towards your family and yourself. They are who you care for. Who you are responsible for. I think you have the responsibility to put them in the best most comfortable position possible. To try as hard as you can to send your kid to any college they want.

If you can do all that, and still have money left over, of course contribute to society as a whole. But by contributing to your family first, to your kids first, society will in turn improve naturally through their successes. Because society wont need to help out your kids. Or you. You would have done that for it.

I don’t find this position selfish as I’m not saying “live for you, no one else matters.” I’m saying to live for who you care for the most, and other people will have to come second.

Government assistance has increased this century. America has gone into major debt this century. Americans are fatter and lazier this century. The dollar is weak, and our image has taken a hit. Is that a coincidence? I’m not smart enough to know for sure, but it doesn’t seem like it.

As far as social views go, you can paint me liberal for the most part. Government control scares me. The TSA scares me. ID programs scare me. 1984 was always one of my favorite books, originally I found it just as good entertainment. Now, who knows how much could come to realization in the next couple centuries. Hopefully none, but I’m just saying. Once you break the dam on limiting personal freedoms, the people in charge will continue to push the envelope if all we continue to do is write about how upset we are online, and not actually do anything about it. Ah complacency, nice to see you again.

Well I’m not completely sure if I wrote about the quizzes enough, but I feel like it all kind of relates. Blog post number 1, complete.

Links used for research:

http://politicalcompass.org/test

http://idealog.org/en/quiz

http://theadvocates.org/quiz

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