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Des Moines, Iowa


One of My Own

Geoff Wood

obama smiles
Originally uploaded by photo.monkey

As I finally went to bed at about 1:00 AM EST this morning and I reflected a bit about the historic(1) events that had taken place over the past two years that culminated in the election of Barack Obama to the highest office in the United States of America.

Off and on through the last few weeks I have thought back to a night 16 years ago when I stayed up late with my parents to watch the final election returns that resulted in Bill Clinton’s election. My parents, an ex-hippie and a Vietnam vet, discussed how it was officially now “their time”. One of their own(2) was the leader of the free world and the world was going to become a better place.

What a great night: they were excited, they were proud, and they were hopeful.

I felt the same last night.

Now it may seem odd that I look at Barack Obama as “one of my own”. I’m a 30 year old middle class white male. Obama is 17 years older, considerably wealthier, and of mixed race.

So what is it?

There are obvious reasons, such as I believe in his platform and I share many of his beliefs. I’m the son of the above mentioned Clinton-folk so my belief system usually aligns closer to the Democratic candidate to begin with but my belief in Obama, and strong desire to see him elected, was much stronger than with either Gore or Kerry.

There are other reasons, and prominently among them is his ability to communicate with my generation(3). The Obama campaign is everywhere in the social media space. They’re on Facebook, they’re on Twitter, they’re on YouTube, and in amazing numbers. They created an iPhone application that allows you to easily cross index Obama’s stance on individual issues, find local news and ways to be involved and even donate to the campaign. They created an iGoogle skin. They communicated information via text message, such as announcing the choice of Biden as VP, reminding people to get out The Vote, and then even a thank you message late last night.

Obama’s social media campaign is really something of wonder and a masterstroke in terms of the right idea for a specific time and place. I discussed this with a friend the other day who compared it to John Kennedy’s use of television for the first time in his successful campaign. It will be interesting to see if this, too, becomes a campaign staple for the foreseeable future.

(1)We had an interesting discussion in the office today, can you really preemptively deem something historic or is merely “unique” until it plays out? (2)And, they didn’t even live in Arkansas, yet. (3)I’m right at the cut off between Generation X and Generation Y and exhibit traits of both, however, in this case I’m claiming Gen Y.