Barack Obama is one of the most recognized politicians of our generation. His historic inauguration flooded The National Mall with over a million people, and according to Nielsen Ratings, 37.8 million people tuned in to watch it on TV. When you add the 7. 7 million people who watched it streaming live online, the total viewership rises to a total of 45.5 million viewers. This high number surpassed even Ronald Reagan’s record for inauguration viewers by over 4 million to be come the most watched Inauguration in history. But we all know the success of his campaign…
Since taking office he has left many of his supporters disappointed, and experienced a steady drop in approval ratings (see below) despite recent political successes. As a supporter myself, I have been left with that hollow feeling.This New York Times article even reports of this disconnect:
Inside Washington, President Obama is savoring springtime resurgence: signs of economic recovery, victory on health care, the upper hand in the financial regulation debate.
Outside Washington, not so much. Polls show the president with job approval ratings of 50 percent or lower, as Democratic strategists brace for a thumping in the midterm elections.
Since the time of publication, Obama has also added the passage of Financial Regulation and the extension of jobless benefits to the list of his successes, and yet his approval rating has continued to drop slightly. President Obama even recognizes his administration’s struggle to connect with the average american. “What I have not done as well as I would have liked to is to consistently communicate to the general public why we’re making some of the decisions. Because we’ve been so rushed over the course of the last year and a half, just issue after issue and crisis after crisis, we haven’t been as effective,” President Obama said recently in the New York Times. It is quite interesting that the man who connected with so many people as a candidate is failing to do so as president.
This disconnect inlies in the power shift that occurs. During the election the people have the power, and the Obama campaign engaged their supporters and made them feel apart of something greater. This ability to engage his supporters, especially through the net roots, is shown in this Trendrr graph showing the number of blog mentions from google. You can see an immense build up leading up to the general election. Were Obama runs into trouble is after he gets elected, the online buzz drops off to near its pre-primary levels.This drop off is because the the power is no longer in the people’s hands. You can call a senator as many times as you please, but ultimately the yes or no vote falls in their hands. People do not feel a part of this administration.
For people to feel a part of this administration, like they did for his campaign, Obama needs to engage the public, welcome them into the governing process, generate greater online buzz and empower the people.
What ways do think the Obama Administration could greater engage and empower the average citizen?
For more please check out my senior thesis and look for future blog posts!