Thursday, December 10, 2009

Throughout this semester in political communication 420 I have learned a vast amount of information about how our political system functions and how citizens are engaged with politics in general. Unfortunately, I believe our political system is declining because fewer citizens are participating in political elections. It is important to all Americans that we began to change the way in which we convey information at interpersonal, public, and cultural levels, so that there will be more civic engagement throughout America. In this paper I will discuss three ways that we can improve the political information that is presented to the public so that they will participate more actively in our political elections. I will discuss how improved interpersonal education, better public political rhetoric, and better use of technology available to our ever changing culture will help to create a more politically engaged society in America.

The first idea we must understand in order for politicians to communicate with the public better is the fact that more American citizens need to be educated on how our political system functions. I believe that the main reason that today’s American citizens do not participate in the political election is due to the fact that they simply do not understand how our political system functions. According to Hollihan “Governments establish curriculum standards with an eye towards teaching students to be loyal and patriotic citizens” (Hollihan Pg. 60). I also agree with Hollihan on this idea and believe that our government is using our schools to brain wash kids instead of teaching them about the true political system of the United States. I believe that we need to start teaching kids about politics at a younger age and find the funding in our school systems to create specific programs that focus directly on political education. If more Americans truly understand the political system and how it functions, than I feel their will likely be a large increase in the number of people that participate in the elections. Better interpersonal communication will be necessary to help teach our children, young adults, and adults about politics. I believe that more education about politics will also give the younger generation the confidence to participate in future elections. This is incredibly important because statistics have shown that many young people today are not engaging in politics at all and they are the ones who will be directly affected by these political decisions in the future. According Hollihan “Low rates of voting and political campaign participation by young people suggest that civics education is not meeting its goal of increasing political interests and efficacy” (Hollihan pg. 61). Although I would began focusing on this young demographic, I also believe that many adults in America today are uneducated when it comes to politics, which is incredibly bad because they are blindly casting their votes based of information that they herd on the television or other media sources. I believe that our government is content with the way our political system functions currently because the more uneducated people are the easier it is to persuade them to vote. So I believe it is up to the American people to fight for this change and create new education programs for kids and adults alike. Smaller classrooms and better interpersonal communication about politics between teachers and students is the drastic change that we need. This will not only make Americans more confident when it comes time to vote but it will also allow for the change that they want instead of the change that others feel is best for America.

The next idea that I would like to discuss is the use of political rhetoric in public political campaigns. Political leaders have been using rhetoric for centuries to persuade the public and convince them that they are the best political candidate for that specific job. Unfortunately, many of these politicians have mislead these voters in the past with their use of rhetoric and as a result of this “ many Americans have become inclined to see politics as a game in which candidates on both sides are insincere and will do whatever it takes to win” (Hollihan Pg.277). It is not that the political rhetoric these politicians are using is bad, but rather the fact that they have consistently not stuck to their word on creating specific policies and following through with the initial ideas. This has created a lot of cynicism with American voters and has left them with the choice to vote for the candidate that they actually believe will follow through with their initial promises. A recent poll “For example, reported that just 16% of voters today believe that federal government today reflects the will of the American people. These figures reflect a sharp decline from the 1990's when more than 30% of Americans believed that the federal government reflected the will of the people” ( Hollihan Pg. 277). Politicians in today’s society are using political rhetoric to convince their public audiences that they are going to do certain things when they are elected but often fail to follow through when they do end up getting elected, this is what is leading the American people to no longer believe in the candidates and the political rhetoric they speak. I believe that through education and regulation, this misuse of political rhetoric can be stopped. If the American public were more educated than they would not be persuaded by this political rhetoric as easily and I believe that they would be able to make better political decisions as a whole.

The third and final issue that I would like to discuss is how better use of technology in our culture would allow American citizens to participate more actively in our political system. There is no doubt that the advances in technology over the last decades have changed the ways in which we receive and view political information. Many of today’s Americans use technologies like the internet and television to find political information and cast their votes. This has changed from past cultures that did not have this advanced technology to find information. The problem with this is that they are often times using unreliable sources to find their information and form their opinions on who would be the best political official for the job. Many of today’s Americans are also having a hard time filtering through the vast amount of political information that is thrown at them every day during a political election. Along with this new technology, our cultures have shifted and so many ads and television advertisements have made it difficult to filter through all the information that is presented to us on a daily basis. According to Hollihan “The internet permits candidates and their campaigns to respond very quickly to events and to the messages circulated by their opponents” (Hollihan Pg. 201).I believe that if we were somehow able to regulate this information that is presented through our technology, than it might make more Americans more confident and help them to find the will to participate politically more. Some regulations that I have come up with to change this problem are only allowing political candidates a certain amount of time to advertise in the election period. This would keep the American public from being overwhelmed and allow them to truly think about their vote before they cast it. This law would not pertain to the internet, so if citizens wanted to search for more political information before casting their vote then they would be able to do so. I also believe that this regulation would help to reduce the amount of bad political rhetoric that politicians often use to persuade their audiences. With a limited amount of advertising political candidates would have to be more concise with their rhetoric, which intern would limit the amount of persuasion they would have over the American public. Another idea that I came up with to improve citizen engagement would be to use technology to improve the quality of information presented. According to Hollihan “internet technology can be used in a positive way by having meet ups. The purpose of a meet up is very simple. Rather than using the web to bring people together in both virtual communities and in actual physical meetings” (Hollihan Pg. 205).

Overall, I believe that an increase in political education, regulation on political rhetoric presented to the public, and better use of technology within our different cultures will all help to get or American public to become more engaged in our political system. These ideas are a little bit out their but I believe it is a change that could truly alter our political system and the amount of public participation when it comes to politics as a whole.

Work Cited
Hollihan, Thomas A. Uncivil Wars: Political Campaigns in the Media Age. 2nd ed. Boston: Bedford/St.Martins, 2009. Print.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Political Rhetoric

Political rhetoric dates back thousands of years to the times of Aristotle and Plato, who were ancient Greek philosophers and some of the first people to define the art of rhetoric. Rhetoric has also been used politically for thousands of years and a good orator can persuade his audience using language, to vote for him to be elected. According to Dictionary .com Rhetoric “Is the art of making persuasive speeches and the art of using language effectively”. In this blog I will discuss how rhetoric in political campaigns creates cynicism in its audiences, how rhetoric has caused political practices to result in flawed policy making, and how rhetoric and its discourse can undermine national unity in America.

Political leaders have been using rhetoric for centuries to persuade their audiences and convince the audience that they are the best political candidate for that specific job. Unfortunately, many of these politicians have mislead these voters in the past with their use of rhetoric and as a result of this “ many Americans have become inclined to see politics as a game in which candidates on both sides are insincere and will do whatever it takes to win” (Hollihan Pg.277). It is no that the political rhetoric these politicians are using is bad, but rather the fact that they have constituently not stuck to their word on creating specific policies and following through with the initial ideas. This has created a lot of cynicism with American voters and has left them with the choice to vote for the candidate that they actually believe will follow through with their initial promises. A recent poll “For example, reported that just 16% of voters today believe that federal government today reflects the will of the American people. These figures reflect a sharp decline from the 1990's when more than 30% of Americans believed that the federal government reflected the will of the people” ( Hollihan Pg. 277). Politicians in today’s society are using political rhetoric to convince their audience that they are going to do certain things when they are elected but often fail to follow through when they do end up getting elected, this is what is leading the American people to no longer believe in the candidates and the political rhetoric they speak.

Political rhetoric is not only being used to mislead the American people when it comes to policies, but it is also being used to spite the other political competitors in political campaigning. According to Hollihan “the increased use of negative campaign ads has also led to a tendency to view political campaigns as battles in an ongoing war” (Hollihan Pg. 278). Political candidates are not only using rhetoric to persuade their audiences to vote for them but they are also using rhetoric to discourage voters from voting for other candidates. This has changed the focus of American voters and has made campaigning less about what Americans want and more about just winning the elections at any cost. These political candidates will do and say anything if they believe it will help them win the election, but many will never follow up on the promises they have made to the American people. Hollihan states “Some studies have suggested that the increased level of cynicism has caused some voters to virtually with draw from the political process altogether” (Hollihan Pg. 279). This is certainly the way I feel when it comes to participate in the political process and as a result, I did not vote in the last election. The new use of the political rhetoric in today’s political system is being used to lie to the voters of America and it has an extremely negative effect on political participation in the United States.

The next issue that I would like to discuss is how these new contemporary political practices may result in flawed policy making, due to their misuse of rhetoric. Hollihan states “that another reason we should be concerned about the ways political campaigns and political discussions are conducted today is that many of these current practices may result in poor public policies. On specific example of this is the increased use of public opinion polling” (Hollihan Pg. 284). Public opinion polling has many positive and negative effects which I have discussed in previous blogs, but in the case of political rhetoric, it is considered to be negative aspect. According to Hollihan “Such polling has made it much easier for campaign strategist to design messages that are tailored precisely to the opinions and interest of these clusters” (Hollihan Pg. 284). This is becoming a huge problem within political society of the United States and it is allowing campaign strategists to focus their political rhetoric and become even more persuasive when trying to convince their audiences to vote for them. This has made their rhetoric even more effective when targeting certain groups of voters and has began to divide America on a political level. This division of groups of people has made it easier for politicians to use their rhetoric to convince people of certain ideas, even though they may not be true. A good example of this occurred in the 1980's when president Regan targeted a specific audience and used rhetoric to persuade his audience on the issue of welfare. According to Hollihan “ such discourse was highly effective, suggesting as it did that such “welfare Queens” were scamming the system and gaining access to benefits that they did not deserve” (Hollihan Pg. 284). The problem with this is the fact that voters of targeted groups are being convinced of ideas that are not true and as a result of this many voters in these specific groups are no longer thinking outside the box. This use of rhetoric is hurting the overall unity of issues in America and is creating campaigns that are focused more on winning the election, instead of campaigns that truly focus on the greater good of American society as a whole.

The final issue that I would like to discuss is how this use of political discourses is undermining the national unity of America as a whole. As I have discuses previously the focus on targeting specific interest groups with persuasive rhetoric has decreased the unity of America. According to Hollihan “ the stability of American political system depends on the fact that after an election is completed, the people need to have some sense of confidence that the party in power will strive to serve the collective needs of the entire electorate, not just the needs of their partisans” (Hollihan Pg. 290). This is a major problem that Americans must begin to take seriously if we want a fair political system for our kids in the future. We need to make sure that when we receive the persuasive political messages from politicians that we take it upon ourselves to look at both sides of the issue, and try to resist being persuaded by their Political rhetoric. We need to especially focus on ignoring the negative campaign ads that politicians often present to us because this is the type of persuasion that they are counting on to win the election, not make positive change in America as a whole. I am strongly disappointed that we have let our politicians and political leaders use these campaign strategies to influence the way in which we vote. As Americans we need to recognize this problem and analyze the persuasive rhetoric that is being fed to us. If we can sift through the politicians persuasive language and use our minds to think about what is truly important to all Americans, then I believe we can create a more fair and efficient political system.

Overall, political rhetoric has been use by politicians and rhetoritician’s to persuade their audiences for centuries. It has become our job as American citizens to sift through this persuasive language and once again select the leaders who we feel are trying to make America a better place as a whole, not just win an election.

Works Cited Web. 16 Nov. 2009. .
Hollihan, Thomas A. Uncivil Wars: politcal Campaigns in the Media Age. 2nd ed. Boston: Bedford/St.Martins, 2009. Print.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Technological Communication

Over the decades political candidates have continued to adapt their campaign strategies to most efficient and effective ways of presenting and receiving information about people’s political views. It has been a long process that has lead up to the technological advances of current day society, like the internet. The internet was invented in 1973 by the “American computer scientist Vinton Cerf as part of a project sponsored by the United States Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) and directed by American engineer Robert Kahn”(Vinton 2009). It wasn't until 1983 that it became accessible to the general public. According to Hollihan this new advancement in technology has enabled both politicians and the general public to “communicate specific messages to specifically targeted voters” (Hollihan Pg. 200). In this blog I will discuss how the internet has fundamentally reshaped communication, the role it plays in political campaigns, and how cyberspace relates to the public sphere relate.

The invention of the internet in 1973 has no doubtfully changed the ways in which both politicians and the public communicate with one another. According to Hollihan “the internet is a global computer network that enables users to send email, other forms of text messages, graphics and video. Since it’s development, the internet has fundamentally reshaped communication.”(Hollihan Pg. 199). The internet has a multitude of uses which have directly impacted the way in which the general public receives its political information. According to Hollihan “the internet has had a significant impact on political campaigns, citizens political activism, and communication with elected officials”(Hollihan Pg. 200). The impact has continued to grow over the years because more nad more people have computers with internet capabilities. According to Hollihan “ Studies have shown that by 2007 211 million Americans, or almost 70 percent of the United States population was online and the number of users American users online represents almost half of the number of people online worldwide. (Hollihan Pg. 200). As other countries continue to grow, they will likely have increasing access to the internet in their countries as well and the advancement of technological communication will continue.

Although internet usage has continued to grow in both the United States and other countries over the past decade, not all internet users are using the internet to access political information. According to Hollihan “there is a substantial difference in usage attributable to age, income, and area of residence. These differences are referred to as the digital divide by policy makers” (Hollihan Pg.200). All three of these factors must be looked at when looking at the impact of new communication technology in politics. For instance, a political campaign might focus their online advertising towards 18 -25 year olds, since they are the ones who have the most internet access statistically. This does not mean that older generations are not using the internet to look at political policies and discussions, but rather they are just looking at them less than younger generations. Age is not the only factor that political parties look at when advertising online, they also look at the urban communities in which these people live. According to Hollihan “ in a 2006 study, 62 percent of rural households reported owing a home computer versus 71 percent of people owning a home computer in metropolitan areas. (Hollihan Pg 200). Hollihan also discusses the importance in the type of internet connection these people have. He states that this is significant because “the better the internet connection the faster the internet works, and the more satisfying the internet is for people to us”( Hollihan Pg.200).

The next issue that I would like to discuss is the use of the internet in political campaigns. The internet over the years has become more and more important in the effectiveness of political campaigns. It started off in the 1990's when political parties began using email to contact and influence people on who they should vote for in the upcoming political election. This was the first time that the internet was used to contact the general public about who they should vote for in the upcoming election, but it proved to be not very effective. According to Hollihan “the first campaigns where the internet arguably affected the outcome of the election occurred in the 1998 gubernatorial contest in Minnesota. Phil Madsen , executive director of the upstart reform party in Minnesota, declared that the internet served as the central nervous system in Jesse Ventura’s campaign for Governor” ( Hollihan Pg. 201). The internet is a tool that is used with other forms of the campaigning process like television, radio, and newspapers. According to Hollihan “the internet is a integral part of the modern campaign message circulation strategy” (Hollihan Pg. 201). The idea is to use the internet to reinforce that messages about the political campaign strategy that are created via offline sources like the ones I mentioned above. These messages are not only sent to the general public but are also sent to thousands of reporters, political action committees, party members, and labor union officials. These messages often state the goals of the political campaign and discuss questions and concerns about other political candidates. The internet allows for these messages to be sent out in mass quantities at a very rapid rate, which allows for rapid responses and more effective political campaigning. I myself have received a few of these campaign messages via email and although they didn't instantly change my mind about a political issue, they did make me think about the issues more thoroughly. There is no doubt that throughout the past decades the internet has changed the way in which political candidates distribute their information to the voters and it has also changed the amount of information about the political campaigns that is readily available to the voter at the click of a button.

The third and final issue that I would like to discuss is the way in which cyberspace and the public sphere interact. According to Hollihan “the dominate metaphor shaping American concepts of arguments in the public political arena has, for many years, been the notion of a market place of free ideas” (Hollihan Pg. 215). The marketplace of free ideas is simply the balance of private concerns with central public interests. In the democratic society of the United States it can often times be hard to differentiate the citizens private concerns to overall goals of the public sphere. Hollihan states that “ The internet has certainly altered power structures and made the public more unruly, while also helping individuals and groups find each other, organize, mobilize, and coordinate their interests” ( Hollihan Pg. 216). We must then consider the real question of whether it has hindered the people’s ability to think about the overall factor of public interest. The internet has taken away direct public interaction with candidates and as a result many ordinary citizens have felt that they have lost their voice altogether. I have definitely felt the effects of this myself because political advertising and campaigns have grown so vast, that I no longer feel that my vote really matters. I no longer believe that one individual American can truly make a difference in this new technologically advanced society. I believe that this is the way that many Americans are also feeling when it comes to politics and the individual citizen. According to Hollihan “The great casualty of the decline of the political marketplace has been the lost opportunity for meaningful public debates and dialogues on complex questions of public morality” ( Hollihan Pg. 217). Although technology has greatly changed our political society and the way in which it functions, there is no doubt that it has had some negative impacts on American society as a whole. Before the invention of the internet, our political systems functioned in a way “in which encouraged citizens to think communally and it created opportunities for meaningful public debates on complex social issues” ( Hollihan Pg. 217). This was considered to be a healthy way to have political discussions and encouraged public interaction, unlike the internet.

The internet has not only taken away public interaction but it has also taken away our privacy. According to Hollihan “another consequence of the internet as a site for political advertisement is the lack of privacy in cyberspace” (Hollihan Pg. 219). The government has the ability to look at our history and learn about the ways in which we use the internet, so they can advertise to us more effectively. This is not only scary to me but also makes me wonder with all these new technologies, just how much privacy will we have in the future. Although the internet has drastically changed the public sphere and the ways in which we find our political information, I don't know that it is a positive thing for our current day society.

Overall, the internet has drastically changed the ways we find political information, interact with our political leaders, and has changed the way in which we interact as a community as a whole. The real question is whether we can use this technology to make our political society more effective, without taken away the freedoms that were given to us via the constitution.

Works Cited

Cerf, Vinton. "Fascinating facts about the invention." The Great Idea Finder. Web. 10 Nov. 2009.

Hollihan, Thomas A. Uncivil Wars: political Campaigns in the Media Age. 2nd ed. Boston: Bedford/St.Martins, 2009. Print.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Over the past few years political campaigns have become increasingly complex and as a result of this, there has been a dramatic increase in public opinion polling. It not only helps to guide political campaigns strategies but it also helps to guide the political decisions made by candidates , elected officials, and their advisors.(Hollihan Pg 168). According to polling is define d as “a sampling or collection of opinions on a subject, taken from either a selected or a random group of persons, as for the purpose of analysis”. Political polls are not only important to political candidates but are also now being used by reporters to see what stories the public wants them to cover in their newspaper articles. In this blog I will discuss the history of the polling process, the most important strategy used to conduct polls, and the different types of political polling that are currently being used in the United States today.

I would like to start off by discussing the history of political polls in the United States. According to Hollihan “the first public opinion polls in the United States were probably the pre-election straw polls conducted by Harrisburg Pennsylvania during the 1824 presidential campaign”. (Hollihan Pg.170) These polls were a lot different than the polls that we conduct in today’s society because they were not scientific polls, but rather polls created by partisans to help express their own opinions and possibly help shape the outcome of their elections. According to straw polls are “an informal opinion survey. The term "straw poll" is thought to have come from a 1800s American farmland practice of tossing "straws in the wind" to test wind direction. It was used in the 1820s; some American newspapers included a straw poll that informally surveyed public opinion as a way of testing the direction of the political winds.” The first known straw polls to be truly effective were held in 1924 by the Literary Digest. They gathered names from registration polls, tax lists, and telephone directories and then distributed the ballots by mail. The literary Digest found these polls to be strongly effective and it helped them to predict the outcomes of the 1924, 1928, and 1932 elections. (Hollihan Pg171)

Out of the Straw Polling process, came the scientific method of polling. It began in “the 1930s when George Gallup conducted surveys on behalf of his mother in law Mrs. Alex Miller, the first women secretary in the state of Iowa” (Hollihand Pg. 171). At first this new style of scientific polls were incredibly in accurate compared to the straw Polls conducted by the Literary Digest, but this new style of polling lead the process for the way in which we use polls today in the United States. This new scientific polling process was incredibly expensive to conduct, so only the wealthiest of candidates in the 1950’s could afford to use them. As a result of this, candidates who were not wealthy fell far behind in the political campaigning process. As the scientific process of polling continued, “new advances in technology allowed for rapid analyses of poll results and made the polling process more efficient than previous time consuming methods of manually analyzing them” (Hollihan Pg. 172). There is no doubt in my mind that political polling provided both the candidates and citizens of America with a new way to process and present information in the United States. I feel that the invention of the polling system is still one of the most important inventions used by politicians in today’s society.

The next idea that I would like to discuss is the strategies used by political candidates to conduct polls in the United States. According to Hollihan public opinion polls were used by candidates in many different ways. Some used them to determine whether they should run for a specific political office, or to determine how to steer the course of their campaigns. They also helped to provide a way to identify what issues were of most concern to voters and provided suggestions on how those issues should be addressed. They helped to identify possible supporters and helped to determine how much knowledge voters truly had on the subjects they were voting on. Polls were also used to monitor the effectiveness of campaigns and helped candidates to spot trends as the election drew closer. (Hollihan) There is no doubt that the political polling process, if used correctly, would not only help candidates to win the election, but also provided a way for citizens to determine who they were going to vote for.

There are several aspects that are common in the polling process, aspects like sampling, constructing the survey, and pushing polling. According to Hollihan, sampling was the most important aspect of political polls and he stated “Perhaps the most important aspect in the creation of any research study is the design of the sample and the careful control over its implementation” (Hollihan Pg. 173). This process of sampling uses the theoretical objective of sampling to sample every person in the population who has a chance of falling into the sample. They then used the probability theory to compute the likely hood that respondents will be included and it also helped to predict the size of the sample. The next process was to use stratification to divide the sample into characteristics that measure the elements of the population. (Hollihan) All of these processes helped to reduce sampling error, which in turn could lead to ineffective results that could cost candidates money and provide them with a large percentage of result errors. Throughout my life time I have participated in several polling’s which were conducted over the phone. I found them to be interesting at first but soon got tired of people calling me to take a poll all the time. Although I feel like I did contribute to the political process, I do not believe that my opinion really mattered that much, due to large population of America and the mass amounts of people participating in these polls.

The final issue that I would like to briefly discuss is the different types of political polling used by candidates to day in the United States. There are six different types of polls currently being used in the United States today but I will only discuss the three most commonly used in the United States today. Political polls used in the United States today include mail surveys, telephone interviews, internet polls, personal interviews and exit polls. One of the most common poll surveys conducted are mail surveys. According to Hollihan “mail surveys are one of the most common polling processes because they are cheap to conduct, Unbiased because there is no interviewer trying to persuade them, and the privacy that is offered by conduction the survey in the comfort of your own home”(Hollihan Pg.176). Some negative aspects of mailed surveys is the fact that many people address them wrong or do not mail them in properly, so the candidate never receives the results. This can prove to be a waste of both time and money.

The next most commonly used survey in today’s society is the telephone survey. According to Hollihan, most political polling today is conducted through telephone. These surveys can be completed fairly quickly and provide instantaneous results. Some negative aspects that telephone surveying brings to the table is the fact that some Americans don’t have telephones at all and others simply ignore the calls from the polling candidates. The time of day in which these surveys are conducted can skew the results and many people have to work during the day. This makes people tired when they get home from work and they end up not unwilling to participate in the survey. Although the telephone survey has proven to be effective over the years, it has many draw backs to it that candidates and the surveyors must deal with.

The final type of polling that I would like to discuss is internet polling process. There are many benefits to online polling according Hollihan. Some of these benefits include reaching large numbers of people, lower costs, and increasing access to the internet. Hollihan states that “online respondents might give more truthful responses to questions and would be more willing to respond to an internet poll” (Hollihan Pg. 184).
Overall, political polling has changed the way in which we elect our officials throughout American history. It is a process that continues to change and become more efficient and less expensive for candidates to do. Political polling has contributed to greater accuracy of change in America and has provided the American people with a way to truly express their views and opinions on political issues.

Works Cited
Hollihan, Thomas A. Uncivil Wars: politcal Campaigns in the Media Age. 2nd ed. Boston: Bedford/St.Martins, 2009. Print.

Cyprus, Sheri. "What is a straw poll?" Wisegeek. Google, 14 Apr. 2004. Web. 27 Oct. 2009. .

"Polling." Dictionary References. Web. 27 Oct. 2009. .

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Political News

Political News
Political news is a very important concept that we all participate in some way or another. According to Hollihan “news, both local and international, gives us a sense of ourselves and the world” (Hollihan Pg.101). Political news helps to form and inform people about all sorts of political issues and ideas. It provides links between groups of people and places that were previously disconnected. It also is one of the key communication methods in our democratic society. It helps to provide facts and the frame work for how these facts fit together. Without political news, our society as a whole would have a hard time functioning and many people would feel a sense of isolation. In this blog I will discuss the importance of political news and the ways in which it helps our society communicate through different primary sources that portray it, as well as the role they play in today's society.
I would like to start off by talking about the importance of political news and the ways in which it helps our society communicate. Political news in our society is very important because it provides the public with a way to understand the political messages that are sent out by our leaders. These leaders are not just sending out raw messages to the public because many of these political issues are complicated. According to Hollihan “raw information is made useful when citizens can understand it, structure it, transform it, and use it as a resource in their interactions with other citizens” (Hollihan Pg.102). This restructuring of our political news makes it so citizens can discuss politics and the issues which they are concerned about. It is an important process because if people cannot understand the information, than they cannot make the important decisions which help to run and structure our country. If people cannot understand the political news they are presented with then “they may begin to nurse personal grievances and become isolated from society” (Hollihan Pg.102). Political news also allows us as Americans to get facts and information about the ideas which are presented to us and then allows us to form our own opinions or conclusions about the ideas. It is important to realize that the political news we read, see, or hear is coming from the person who is presenting it. Sometimes the information is presented in the reporter’s point of view. We must then decode the information presented and draw our own conclusions from it. There is no doubt that political news not only helps our society faction as a whole but it also provides a crucial way for us to communicate with one another in the United States and around the globe. Without political news we would have no idea what other people around the world were doing and we would not be able to learn from their mistakes.

The next ideas that I would like to discuss are the many sources which we use to get our political news. These sources include newspapers, magazines, television, radio, and the internet. Many of these sources have not always been around and the invention of new sources like the internet continually change the ways in which we receive our political news. It all began with people holding up signs and billboards, which relayed a short message to the public about politics and who they should vote for. This was truly one of the first sources of political news that Americans relied on. The invention of the printing press in the 1440’s helped revolutionize the way in which Americans would receive their political news fix in the future. This new printing press allowed newspaper companies to mass produce their papers and spread political news to a much larger audience. The industrial age and factories also played a key role in the availability of political news.

One of the first sources of political news was the newspaper. News papers were a popular source of news during the 1920’s and 1930’s but according to Hollihan the number of people who use it as a source of their political news has slowly been declining since the 1940’s. Hollihan states that this was due to the advent of the television. Although readership has fallen, “ 54% of Americans still read the newspaper in the United States daily and 67 % read it on Sundays”(Hollihan Pg.105). News magazines have also played a minor role in spreading political news. News magazines like Newsweek and Time magazine are a few of the publications that Americans still rely on today for political news. According to Hollihan “the impact of these magazines is not in the content in which they present but rather which candidates they will feature on the cover of their magazine” (Pg.107).Therefore, I do not believe that political magazines deeply inform readers about the arguments in political news but rather they are used to help persuade the reader about a political issue that they are already knowledgeable on. These magazines not only help to persuade the reader but also provide “instant credibility for whichever candidate they decide to put on the cover” (Hollihan Pg. 107). Although news magazines can provide some credible information about political news, I recommend that you use another source for in depth political news.

The next source of political news that I would like to discuss is the television. “The television was created in 1927 by Philo Farnsworth and it provided a whole new way to receive political news and information in general” (Bellis 2005). Even though news magazines, radio, and newspapers were the standard source of news before the television, this quickly changed. According to Hollihan “Despite the depth, variety, and wealth of political campaign information available through daily newspapers and news magazines, most people report that they get the bulk of their political information from television” (Pg. 108). For me, the television is the primary source in which I receive political news. I watch about four hours of television a day and I know that much of the information presented is biased and unreliable, but I still turn to it for my political news fix. The television provides me with channels like CNN and CSPAN which broadcast uninterrupted coverage of important political news 24 hours a day. Even though other sources of political news like newspapers and radio provide more in depth information, television is still the source I turn to when I want a quick synopsis of current political issues. Although this is one of the most commonly used political news resources, it does not provide the quality of information like other news sources.

Another source of political news that is commonly used in America is the radio. The radio came about in the 1920’s and was one of the first ways that political news was spread to a large audience. According to Hollihan “90% of Americans 12 or older listen to the radio each week and the information that is presented through the radio has a higher penetration rate then TV, newspapers, magazines, or even the internet.”(Pg. 114). This to me shows that even though the radio was invented 90 years ago it is still the most important source of news that America relies on for political information. It is also one of the most credible sources, due to the many regulations that are set in place. Information presented through the radio is regulated by the National Public Radio organization, which helps to filter and research the information that is presented to audience and make sure that it is correct. The invention of commercial talk radio also helped to revolutionize the radio and made it a main source for political discussions. It allowed people to call in and express their views about political issues and ideas. When I listen to the radio I find myself listening to commercial talk radio because it is what interests me the most. The radio is one of the greatest ways to discuss and spread political news and many Americans today still rely on this source of political news more than any other.

The final and most recent source of political news that I would like to discuss is the internet. According to Hollihan “the internet offers a rich and wide variety of news about political issues and campaigns” (Pg.115). Many newspapers and magazines have also converted their product to an online format so that readers can access most of the common newspapers without even leaving their homes. In a society where people are multi tasking and constantly on the go, the internet can provide a mobile resource for people who don’t have time to sit down and read the paper. New cell phone technologies and smaller computers have made it easy for people to access political news while there on the go. Although the internet is a great source for political news, it can also be a very bad source due to the vast amount of information one must sort through to find credible information. I know from experience that this can be a very time consuming process which can frustrate the reader and provide them with faulty information. If used correctly the internet can be a great source for all political news and can allow you to access many sources of political news from the comforts of your own home.

Overall political news plays a key role in the ways in which we view ourselves, view the world, and communicate with one another. The many sources of political news provide us with many different views and arguments when discussing political issues. We rely on it to elect our officials and run our democratic society. Without political news, America would not be the functional, educated, democratic society that we are today.

Works Cited
Bellis, Mary. "Television History." 13 May 2005. Web. 13 Oct. 2009. .
Hollihan, Thomas A. Uncivil Wars: politcal Campaigns in the Media Age. 2nd ed. Boston: Bedford/St.Martins, 2009. Print.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The U.S Presidency

The United States is the most powerful country in the world and the U.S presidency is the most important position someone can hold in our government, because not only do they determine how our country is run, but their decisions also affect countries around the globe. In the Unites States we hold elections for president every four years and these “elections at all levels help to shape our nation and preserve our democracy, campaigns for president attract the most public attention”. (Hollihan Pg22) The president of the United States is considered to be one of the most powerful people in the world and the president is the one who articulates these ideas and uses these ideas to make positive change for America. “Being an American president is not based on common ancestry, a common religion, even a common culture, it’s based on accepting an uncommon set of ideas. It is of course, U.S presidents who are most force fully communicating and articulating these ideas”. (Hollihan Pg22)The president not only articulates ideas but he also represents how we conceive ourselves as a nation. In this blog article I will discuss the critical roles of the president, the impacts he has on the global economy, and the steps necessary to become the president of the United States.
I would like to start off by discussing the critical roles of the United States president. The United States president plays many important roles in both our society and in the world. He is the head of the executive branch, head of the U.S military, and chief of the government. Any final decisions that have to be made are made by the president. As head of the executive branch the job of the president to approve the laws that congress creates. After both the house and the senate approve the bill, they send it off to the president for approval. If the president agrees with the law then he can sign the bill. which then goes into effect and citizens now have to abide by it. If the president does not like the bill than he can refuse to sign it and this is known as a veto. “If congress feels really strongly about the bill, than they can override the president’s veto with two- thirds vote from congress”.(Read Pg1) Although the president can be overridden, this is rare because great debates go on before the president even sees the bill and most of the time the president will compromise with congress and the bill will go through. Although I believe it would be cool to be able to control the laws that go into effect in the United States, it is scary to think about because it is up to one man to determine how we as Americans live our lives. The president is not only the head of the executive branch but he also the head of the United States military. The president can start war with other countries fairly easily. In order for him to officially declare war, the president must converge with congress and discuss the issue. Once the issue has been discussed, congress can then give their approval and the war will begin. A good example of this was the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. After America was attacked by terrorist on September 11th 2001, the president quickly met with congress and then gave the order to start the war against terrorism. This helps to show the immense power of the president and how only several men could end life on this planet as we know it, via nuclear war. This also scares me because the fate of the world can lie in one man’s decision and if the president makes the wrong one, then life as we now it will end. The final role of the president that I would like to discuss is his role as chief of government. This means that the president is the boss of every government worker throughout the United States. He can use this to boost the economy by creating more jobs and projects for government employees to work on. He controls government institutions like the FBI and the CIA. The jobs of millions of people lie in the president’s hands and his decisions directly affect the workers. Overall the president plays many important roles in the United States and people rely on him every day to make important decisions, which will directly affect their lives and the lives of all Americans.
The president of the United States not only controls America but he also has helps to control the global economy. For years the global economy has relied America for global growth. According to the Washington Post article U.S Signals New Era for Global Economy these days are over. “President Obama delivered an unusual warning Wednesday for an American leader: The "voracious" U.S. economy can no longer be the sole engine of global growth. The statement signaled recognition of a new economic era with a less dominant U.S. role”. In the past, the United States has helped many other countries with their struggling economies. One example of this is the Asian crisis in the late 1990’s which spread fear throughout the global economy. America stepped in and helped Asia to recover from this crisis. According to our current president Barack Obama these days are over because America is currently suffering from its own economic crisis. We have turned our attention from helping others in the world with their economies to trying to keep our own economy running. This is important because the United States economy provides the foundation for many other economies around the globe. If our economy crashes, then other economies throughout the world would likely crash as well. The United States is currently in a recession which is lowering consumerism and creating huge losses in American job markets. Since America imports huge quantities of goods from other countries, the loss of consumerism has greatly affected America’s biggest importers like Japan and china. This has hurt their economy as well as our own. Now that Americans have to pay back huge amounts of debt that they have accumulated over decades of spending, it is time for the United States to focus on our own economy. In order to reform both Americas economy and the global economy president Obama said that we must work together “In this relatively new forum, leaders of industrialized powers including the United States, Britain and Japan as well as emerging giants such as China, India and Brazil are grappling together for an answer to the global economic crisis. Nations will produce a communiqué Thursday with a list of carefully worded prescriptions, including the regulation of hedge funds and more rigorous standards for banks, a move to shed light on the secrecy of tax havens, new ways for regulators in different countries to coordinate their oversight and dramatically increased funding for the International Monetary Fund, according to a draft of the agreement”(Fiola Pg1) With the most powerful nations in the world working on this problem Obama hopes that we can reform both the united states economy and the global economy together. This new reformation of the global economy shows the power of the president of the United States and the huge impact that he can have on our global economy. He basically is reforming the way in which the global economy functions as a whole and encouraging the world to work together and overcome this crisis.
The final idea that I would like to discuss is the requirements that one must meet to become a United States president. According to the article Requirements to Become United States President by Pheadra Trethan one must have “nerves of steel, the charisma, the skeleton-free closet, the fund-raising network, the thick skin and the legions of loyal folks who agree with your stance on all the issues.”(Trethan) Not only must you be a strong person but you must meet specific qualifications to even be considered. One qualification that must be met is that you have to be a native born United States citizen, you have to be at least thirty five years of age and one must live in the United States for 14 years. There are many more qualifications that one must have to be a United States president but these are the only ones that are stated in the United States constitution. I would also assume that one must be highly educated, have served in the military, and have worked their way through the political system. Being the United States president is certainly not something everybody can do. People spend their entire lives trying to become president but most never reach their goal. This to me is the hardest job on the planet and probably the hardest job to get on the planet. With this being said, I don’t know if I would ever want to become president of the United States. It appears to be an extremely stressful job and one in which billions of people are relying on you to be good at. This is a lot of pressure put on you all of the time and not to mention the amount of work you must do just to be considered for the job.
Overall the United States presidency is the most powerful job on the planet and is probably one of the most stressful ones on the planet. It has many roles in which you must play, it helps to control the entire global economy, and has a list of requirements as long as your arm. So before you say you want to be president of the United States consider these factors and then make your decision.

Works Cited

Fiola, Anthony. "U.S. Signals New Era for Global Economy." Washington Post 02 Apr. 2009: 1-2. Print.

Hollihan, Thomas A. Uncivil Wars: politcal Campaigns in the Media Age. 2nd ed. Boston: Bedford/St.Martins, 2009. Print.

Read, Harry. "The President of the United States." 03 Jan. 2007. Web. 1 Oct. 2009. .

Trethan, Pheadra. "Requirements to Become President." Web. 1 Oct. 2009. .

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Political Participation

For my blog I chose to write about political participation and the ways in which we as students can participate in our political system. According to the online Webster’s Dictionary “political participation is the active engagement by individuals and groups with the governmental processes that affect their lives.” Political participation is an important part of our society in many ways because it directly affects our lives and the ways in which we are able to live them. Political participation allows people to support and elect leaders that they feel will do the best job running the United States. Political participation is a process which we as Americans should become more involved in because it is what is going to truly determine the way in which our future and current generations will function. In this blog entry I will discuss the two types of political participation that are commonly used when participating politically and the three theories of political participation which help form the ways in which we participate.

In the political system of the United States there are two forms of political participation that we as American citizens can participate in. The first form that I would like to discuss is the conventional form of political participation because it is the most common form in which we participate in. According to “conventional form of communications consists of Voting, letter writing, contact with representatives, working on campaigns, and campaign contributions.” Gregson 1997)

Conventional participation's is the most productive and effective way for the everyday American to participate in our political system. Unfortunately, out of all the people in the United Sates only 72% of eligible voters voted in the national election but only 47% participated in local elections in 2009.” (Richards 2009) To me, this is unacceptable amount of participation by Americans when it comes to political participation. I believe that it is important for all Americans to participate in our political system because it has a direct outcome on both their lives and the lives of their families. Conventional political participation is also important because if no one participates in our political system than it can “cause instability and complete system failure.”(Gregson 1997)

The next form of political participation that I would like to discuss is the unconventional way in which people participate. Unconventional forms of communication consist of marching, demonstrations, boycotts, sit-ins, and the use of violence. These “Unconventional activities might be legal but are not considered appropriate, such as participating in a protest march. Illegal unconventional means of participation include burning draft cards, bombing government buildings, and repressing other people's participation.” (Gregson 1997) Although this form of political participation is not as effective as the conventional form is, many people still choose to use this unconventional method to express their views and opinions. I myself have never participated in an unconventional form of political participation but I have known friends who have. They rallied in a protest against the new health care reform bill that president Obama is trying to pass. They told me that even though this form of political participation made them feel like a part of the greater picture, their protest turned out to be very unsuccessful in expressing their views. This leads me to believe that the conventional form of political participation is the most effective when trying to make change and express your political opinion.

“Both conventional and unconventional forms of political participation can be limited by the economic and social needs of the participants and this often times dictates the amount for political participation that Americans participate in.” (Gregson 1997) Whether Americans participate conventionally or unconventionally in our political system is determined by their needs and social ideals. Political participation is important to our society and can determine the future of America as a whole.

The next idea that I would like to discuss is the three models of political participation and the reasons why these models are important. The first model of political participation is the democratic elitism model. According to the journal article State and Society: Political Participation “Democratic elitists are primarily concerned with the problem of sustaining political stability; democracy is of secondary importance. They argue that enlightened leadership, sanctioned by minimal acts of participation by the masses, is the best way to maintain order.” (Richards 2009) This theory argues that limited participation in our political system is better for the system overall because many Americans in current day society are ignorant of ideas and simply do not possess the knowledge that is required to be a political participant. Many people argue against this theory and they do not agree that Americans are too ignorant or uneducated to vote. According to Manhattan Institute origination “the estimated national public school graduation rate in 2008 was 71 percent.”(Greene 2008) This to me proves that our society is fairly uneducated when it comes to casting their political vote. Do we want people who are uneducated participating politically? This theory of political participation says that we should not allow these uneducated Americans to taint our political system with their uneducated contributions. Personally, I agree with this theory of political participation because Americans are not helping our political system by randomly casting their votes.

The next model of political participation that I would like to discuss is the rational choice theory. According to the journal article State and Society: Political Participation “rational choice theorists believe that a lack of willingness to participate by the majority is a sign not of their ignorance, but of their rationality.”(Richards 2009) This theory is based on the wants and needs of Americans and if you have no interest in participating politically, then they should not participate at all. Participation in this theory is based on the want for change in our political system by American citizens. If they do not want to participate or they do not hold any interest in politics, than it is better for them not to participate at all. I also agree with this theory because when we politically participate, we are doing so to make a change in our lives and our political system. If Americans vote blindly and do not research before they vote, they are not only wasting our time but our money as well. Overall I feel that you should only participate politically if you understand what you are talking about and feel the need to make a change.

The third and final model of political participation that I would like to talk about is the Participatory theories of democracy. “In contrast to these two other theories, participatory theories see political involvement as developmental: participation is more than a method of governing; it serves the wider purposes of cementing civil society together, and educating citizens in the art of governance.” (Richards 2009) This theory helps to educate citizens on how the government functions and the ways in which we as American citizens can make an impact on our political system. I find this to be a very important theory because if people are not educated on how to participate politically in our democracy than they will make uneducated decisions and weaken our political system. There are many ways in which this policy helps our society as a whole and I believe it is the first theory that should be examined before participating politically. This theory helps to “strengthening local government, and extending democratic practice into the institutions of civil society, as well as increasing opportunities for the use of national referendums and citizen-led policy initiatives.” (Richards 2009) Overall this theory not only helps our political system as a whole but it also provides citizens with the proper ideas and political competence to cast a strong vote for what they believe in.

In conclusion both the ways in which we politically participate in our political system and the political models that we use to do so, are to me the most important factors to consider before politically participating in our democracy. If you can understand these models of political participation then it will allow you not only to participate in politics but will allow us as citizens to truly make a difference. If you have questions about how to politically participate and you truly want to make a difference, than you should visit this website It will provide you with further information about the models of political communication and help you to figure out where you stand when it truly comes down to participating effectively.

Work Cited

Greene, Jay. "High School Graduation Rates in the United States." Civic Report. Apr. 2002. Web. 15 Sept. 2009. .

Gregson, Kimberly. "Community Networks and Political Participation: Developing Goals for System Developers." ASIS. 14 May 1997. Web. 15 Sept. 2009. .

Hollihan, Thomas A. Uncivil Wars: politcal Campaigns in the Media Age. 2nd ed. Boston: Bedford/St.Martins, 2009. Print.

“Political Participation." 12 Feb. 2005. Web. 15 Sept. 2009.

Richards, Greg "State and Society: Political Participation." Web. 15 Sept. 2009. .