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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas Wiertella April 30, 2024

Political text messages unneccessary

The last time a Democratic presidential nominee announced his running mate, it was done at a morning rally in Pennsylvania. This time around, Barack Obama announced his pick, Joe Biden, to 2.9 million cell phone users via text message at 3 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 23.

I cannot help but feel that using text messaging to make a monumental announcement is both unnecessary and alienating at the same time. If Obama is trying only to speak to a younger audience, then he is achieving his goal. Technology is a great unifier for the people of my generation. And yes, the pool of people who regularly text message increases all the time. It is not only the youngest voters, such as college students, but even professionals who are using text messaging more frequently. More and more people have phones with full keyboards, making messaging much easier, even for those who have a hard time comprehending technology.

But by relying partly on newer technologies Obama is missing out on many voters, especially those over age 40. Those same voters might be more inclined to vote for someone they deem more traditional, such as Republican presidential candidate John McCain. Furthermore, those independent voters who are on the fence, are not likely to be swayed by the perceivably more efficient use of technology. Although this act alone will not make or break the election for Obama, the continued use of such tactics may discourage a lot more voters from leaning his way. Currently there is no clear leader in the presidential election and Obama really cannot afford to make many mistakes.

The forced implementation of technology into politics does not sit well with me, regardless of the candidate or political party. Furthermore, flaws quickly appeared with Obama’s plan. Before the announcement was supposed to appear, it had already been leaked by both the New York Times and the Associated Press. The fact that the text went out at 3 a.m., five hours before it was supposed to, makes me wonder exactly how many Obama supporters were awake to receive it. My guess is that only diehard political fans would hold off sleep just to discover the Democratic vice presidential candidate.

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Along with the text message announcing the choice of Joe Biden, e-mails were sent to those Obama supporters who signed up for alerts, including myself. The email naming Biden reached my inbox at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday. And even those were sent out before a rally was held later than afternoon.

Obama is not the only candidate who has utilized the text message approach over the course of the 2008 presidential campaign. Both Hilary Rodham Clinton and Mitt Romney used similar programs, though not as extensively as Obama.

Personally, text messaging is not my first choice for communicating with anyone. I am not one of those people who are glued to the keypad of my cell phone all day long. I do text from time to time, but I find its utility much less than that of an actual phone call.

Not to mention, it takes me forever to plug out an entire thought to someone and it racks up my cell phone bill. But I know plenty of people who text a lot more than they call.

All that being said, I still do not understand the need to use technology so extensively, especially banking on text messaging to reveal a vice presidential candidate to the American public. I see nothing wrong with a simple rally or press conference, just like in the old days.

It is possible to still be a liberal and forward thinking candidate without resorting to a communication medium frequented by teenagers and college kids.

I can only hope that if Obama wins the presidential election, we don’t have to expect to find out on our cell phones.

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