High note

by

In 1992, Bill Clinton played the saxophone on MTV. This was a big deal. Politicos had always pretended to engage with youth, but here was a candidate who actually found their pulse and got into the rhythm. Certainly a turning point for President Clinton, also a turning point for all of politics as voters knew it:

There were new soapboxes from which to preach.

15 years later, a similar phenomenon is unfolding as candidates are opening dialogue through new media outlets. The difference today is in the level of acceptance – instead of raised eyebrows and skepticism, there is a race to establish legitimacy in online forums. In late ’06, a rash of hopefuls threw their hats into the ’08 ring via online announcements, with John Edwards’ media-savvy mug leading the charge.

It goes further: social sites are the new Town Halls, with open access and opinions for all. Networking sites are being mined for supporters and for feedback, as the true interactive glory of the new media age becomes integral to the political landscape. Meanwhile, YouTube has blossomed and the television world is struggling with a newly respected interactive adversary.

Of course, in online time this is old news. Nevertheless, it demonstrates a fascinating pattern of modern intelligence hierarchy: first the kids get it, then the media and politicians get it. FDR is doing somersaults, but once again the fact remains:

There are new soapboxes from which to preach.

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