As a New Yorker, it's fairly common to experience the occasional celebrity sighting on the way to the office or while on a lunch break. Of course, there are those initial 5 minutes when you frantically search for your camera phone and text everyone you know to bear witness to your TMZ moment. But more often than not, as the adrenaline fades, you reflect on how "normal" Heidi, or George or Julia looked. For some reason it seems odd that they would be walking in sneakers hand in hand with their child, or having brunch at your favorite restaurant. And then comes the epiphany that public figures are just like us, with the differentiating factor of their occupation.
On July 6, President Obama delivered that same "ah-ha!" moment to millions of Americans when he joined the Twittersphere and answered questions from concerned citizens in an unscripted session at The White House. Razing the serpentine pavilion of politics, the #AskObama townhall provided the common student (and even someone named Shnaps!) with equal power to reach the President as the Speaker of the House. The success of the event, and perhaps of the President’s re-election campaign, lies in that simple gesture of access.
|Obama leads the Twitter town hall with a Tweet of his own.|
Obama broke ground in early 2010 when he sent his first tweet from the American Red Cross headquarters and made history again with the recent Tweet Up. Obama’s acknowledgement of a changing social landscape and his encouragement of a two-way, symmetrical conversation evoked a positive response from many voters. This transparency brings politics and the President into our everyday lives through a medium that is casual and comfortable for millions of Americans.
While yes, it can be argued that 18 questions selected by a group of 8 Twitter-selected curators is not a true representation of American concerns. But I have ask, when was the last time you were 140 characters away from talking to the President?