As a self-proclaimed “political junky,” I have watched campaigning and information gathering for the electorate evolve from being a face-to-face grassroots movement to a social media bombardment.
Today, a viable political candidate must have at Twitter handle and an active online presence. Extending beyond the realms of Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and so on, is Reddit.
Reddit is an online forum that serves as a one-stop shop for any topic you could imagine. Each topic is a Sub-Reddit page with additional information. As the popularity of the site has grown, so has the list of candidates featured on it. Currently each of the presidential candidates have a Sub-Reddit devoted to him or her.
Throughout the advancement of technology, presidential candidates have sought to be more accessible. Whether it was President Bill Clinton appearing on Arsenio Hall or on MTV; President Barack Obama utilizing social media such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter; or more recently Senator Ted Cruz using Periscope to broadcast his campaign events, technology has made politics more accessible to the average American.
Ask Me Anything
Regarding Reddit, the online forum hosts online events called “Ask Me Anything”. In this election cycle, both Senators Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders participated in this event. Both Senators had to produce a photograph to prove that it was them talking to those asking questions.
Opportunities like this give those who are interested in candidates an opportunity to interact with the candidate, even if they never get the opportunity to meet him or her. Sometimes people have questions that aren’t asked by the moderators of debates, or they have follow up questions on specific details of foreign policy plans, budgets or social policy agendas. This is an excellent way for candidates to get some time answering the questions of real voters, and potentially winning that vote. Also, it allows the candidate to build his or her brand as an approachable average person.
In any campaign season, there is always an “us vs. them” mentality and social media and websites like Reddit serve as a way to make a candidate appear to not be part of the machine.
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Jeannie Putnam—Message Board Specialist