While the debate about Australia’s political status as a constitutional monarchy continues to rage we look toward the distant shores of America to see an example of a republic. The evidence it presents can be used to fuel either side of the debate. If we examine America as a case study of a republic the best time to judge its strengths and weaknesses is at a time of vulnerability. So with the election looming this year we can observe all aspects of the Government and all the tireless campaigns under its time of greatest scrutiny and cynicism.
America as a republic has a different electoral process than Australia as a constitutional monarchy. While America can be viewed as a more fundamentally form of government you cannot admire the advantages without conceding or chastising the flaws, for nothing is without faults. It is often acknowledged that the American campaign process is one such flaw.
The role of this campaign process is vital because of the voluntary voting laws in America. The 2008 campaign saw a combined campaign cost of over $5.3 billion (US), the most costly in history with a 27% increase from the 2004 election. With less than 57% of the American population voting in 2008 the aim to inspire the public to exercise their right vote is as crucial an aspect as winning the public vote. This chaotic campaign even makes its way to Australian shores with aspects of our media inundated with both serious and light-hearted views.
The media plays into these campaigns intensely, for the communication of each senator’s campaign is distributed through media. The posters, billboards and newspaper and magazine articles were once the most common tool for the campaign, as were speeches and rallies. While print media is still a potent part of the modern campaign in recent years candidates have made use of emerging technologies and media platforms. The use of the media to broadcast rallies and speeches to influence voters was utilised years ago, but the rapid increase of modern technologies has left many facets to be exploited. The 2008 election saw many of these used, especially by the successful Barrack Obama campaign. The 2012 campaign promises to once again access those new aspects of the media, and go beyond it in its aim to gain public support for each running candidate.
In the upcoming weeks I plan to explore the use of social media networks to engage with voters; the revolutionary 2008 Obama campaign; the role of YouTube as free online advertising and the changing dynamics of the political atmosphere during campaign time due to the media.