Political campaign is a well planned effort by a person, an institution or an organization targeting a specific group of people with a message aiming to influence them for support. Politics continue to evolve as new techniques are being discovered. In addition, it creates new avenues and tools for gaining popularity and gathering crowds for rallies and raising money. The internet is nowadays a very good tool for modern politics and campaigning due to the diverse nature of the World Wide Web and its ability to reach massive audiences. Political candidates use it as a way of endorsing their campaigns. The 2008 elections in the US were mainly influenced by the use of the World Wide Web; political candidates like Barack Obama launched their campaign through the internet and Senator Hillary Clinton also made pleas for donations through the net. ‘‘A website allows candidates to virtually enter every voter’s home and allows voters the fullest exposure to the candidates imaginable,’’ (Gersten).
The future of political campaigns through the internet is in its ability to reach large target audiences efficiently through unpredictable means like email chains, blogs, and daily downloadable video messages from candidates. Through the internet broadcast, candidates have been able to bring potential voters to participate in certain political events that they would have otherwise neglected were the internet unavailable, (Nagourney). Political campaigns are also eyeing social networking sites such as facebook and twitter with the aim of reaching large groups of likely supporters with the same interest or views. It is also more cost effective than the older methods for campaigning such as door to door campaigns and telephoning. Due to the large number of people that are able to access the internet on a daily basis, politicians are taking their campaigns to the web. In the USA for instance, all the candidates for the 2008 election had their own websites. Obama’s barackobama.com and Hillary’s hillaryclinton.com are just examples of the technology in use. President Obama owes his support and victory mostly to the internet campaigns as his team even created its own social networking site with the help of Chris Hughes; a co-founder of facebook.
The youth of today have fully embraced the internet either at home, school, restaurants or at work. Many youths of the age bracket 18-25 have made internet part of their lifestyle due to the availability of information upon demand from entertainment, education, among other areas. Politicians have taken their awareness to social networking sites and this has a big impact as more than half of supporters of Barack Obama were youth. The US presidential contenders raised huge amount of money that doubled those of the previous elections and this is mainly attributed the use of internet that has been widely accepted by the modern generation. Political blogging and live chats are now widely used in developed and developing countries. In the United States discussions ranging from social issues, political and government policies take place without restrictions as bloggers are free to interact, become followers of certain political figures, express their own opinions, and also being able to give criticism of certain policies freely. This makes this type of campaigning crucial due to the large numbers of youths that can be reached and the ability of the youth to adapt new technologies with ease.
Political accountability can be described as responsibilities by government institutions or agencies to be held responsible by the people regarding important decisions made. The Internet plays an important role when it comes to the accountability of a candidate by the fact that information is readily available to anyone at any time. This means that there is more transparency as informatory tools such as websites keep current track of candidates from radio speeches, to e-letters to videos which contains a lot of information about a candidate. Also, through record keeping politicians are answerable to the people for their decisions or unexpected performances. Accountability also guarantees that the leaders in government do not abuse their powers. This makes sure they remain competitive in their duties; thus, enhancing their performance. However sanctions can be imposed on leaders when they go against political norms that are beneficial to a majority. “These sanctions can be highly formalized, such as fines, disciplinary measures or even penal sanctions, but often the punishment will only be implicit or informal,” (Meijer, pp. 2-3)
In conclusion therefore, it can be said that political accountability is crucial in the running of a state as it is a form of practicing democracy and transparency. This is because information gathered through the internet and other means is put to the table for discussions and scrutiny and this means that the public also get access to this information. It ensures there is efficiency in a government and creates that open link between the citizens and the people in power, as it is through accountability that they are able to justify their actions or performances to the people who voted them in. The use of the internet can therefore be justified to have encouraged the level of accountability in the political set up that has worked to the advantage of the public.
Gersten, Barton. Internet’s Effect on Campaigning and Elections. 2010. Web.
Meijer, Albert. Digitization and Political Accountability in the USA and the Netherlands: Convergence or Reproduction of Differences? 2010. Web.
Nagourney, Adam. “Political Faces Sweeping Change via the Web.” New York Times, 2006. Web.