During the 2008 presidential election, one aspect of Barack Obama’s candidacy that make him appeal to the young voters of this country was his and his campaign’s smart use of trending technology. He was the candidate with a Twitter account, who had a blog, and who had made himself an almost-reachable presence to the people who favored him up until election day. Now that he is President of the United States, he has kept up this web service communication with his constituents, and yesterday he answered burning political questions via a Twitter Town Hall event.
The event was hosted by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey and to kick off the event, President Obama tweeted from his @whitehouse account about reducing the deficit, a theme that played out heavily during the Twitter-fueled Q&A.
Over 70,000 tweets were sent to the President either through the #AskObama hashtag or mentioned the @townhall username. Several talking points arose including questions about job creation, the economy, housing and the legalization of marijuana. In fact, the most retweeted question of the entire town hall event was, “Would you consider legalizing marijuana to increase revenue and save tax dollars by freeing up crowded prisons, court rooms.” Sadly, the President did not answer this tweet, which is a true shame. I would be genuinely interested in hearing the President’s answer, considering we have known for quite some time now that the 40-year War on Drugs has been a failed effort.
According to White House officials, out of the 70,000+ tweets that rolled in, President Obama answered 18 questions during the event, questions that were carefully selected by a team from Twitter and a group of veteran Twitter users from around the country.
Being the classy bunch we all know them to be, House Speaker John Boehner and many Republican members of Congress took to their own Twitter accounts to berate the President on job creation and the budget; most obvious throughout these tweets were the snarky attitudes oozing from their 140-characters. It made me think that perhaps these politicians are not aware of how our government works. The Republican members of Congress all ran on a platform that promised voters job creation; that is the reason why so many from the right-wing were elected into their positions in the first place. Fast-forward to the present and they are sitting in their cozy positions, passing their workload over to the President and fighting every step of the way to making any headway.
The most enthusiastic of Twitter users during the event were those from the Washington DC area. Other areas accumulating the most tweets were from major cities including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco.