Unable to reach a consensus on the debt crisis ahead of the August 2 deadline, Obama urged people to Tweet and reach their local congressional member urging them to compromise on the debt ceiling.
The unprecedented move of the American president is a unique combination of sorts; the world most powerful man using one of most public tools to quickly pass the message.
The move also showcases how the most powerful leader acknowledges the real house of power – people.
With every message reaching out to 9,362,843 (at the time of writing) people there was no other way by which the president could reach these many people. Not only that 692,518 people also can directly reach him on his tweet handle.
As a result of the tweet spree by his Obama2012 campaign phone lines of the House were running at peak traffic volume.
The move allows Obama to reach out to the Republicans via people and make his point heard. Twitter gives the president a people’s advantage to convince or pressurise his political rivals and in turn reach Republican supports.
How effective the campaign will be remains to be seen, but the tool of social networking which led to Arab and African revolutions is being used by leaders to establish a connect with their people.
@BarackObama sets the precedent by seeking people’s support via twitter, but its usual for politicians and leaders in west to use this medium to make their stand.
Recently president of Venezuela Hugo Chavez used twitter to work from hospital; the UK Prime Minister though doesn’t have a personal twitter account No. 10 Downing Street has a tweet handle which is functional.
Few months back on news channel Al-Jazeera world leaders like Barack Obama and David Cameron in a series of world view interview were put questions collected using You tube, which they readily answered. Though not a social media tool, the drive allowed people to pose questions in person and seek response via web.
While the west is embracing social media to gauge the people’s moods, politicians in India shy away from any social media.
As the debate in the country heats up over the Lokpal Bill, could the PMO have not used social media tools to gauge what the people think? Why is it that the leaders shy away from meeting the people who matter? Why is it that it takes a huge uproar and public outcry for the PM even address the media?
When I was in India recently I asked a senior Congress leader who has a berth in the Union Cabinet and when asked about use of social media the response was: “Let it be with Shashi Tharoor Sahab, why keep unnecessary headache.”
If this is the attitude that top politicians have, they are light years behind reality.