US Presidential Election 2012 Kicks Off On YouTube…How Dirty Will It Get?

The political heat has finally died down on YouTube after last November’s Senate elections, but the last few months have just been the calm before the storm.  Democrats, Republicans, Independents and Tea Partiers all over the country are about to get all riled up once again because the 2012 Presidential campaign has officially kicked off on YouTube.  The official video launch for Obama’s 2012 campaign hit YouTube last night and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) released their first Obama 2012 attack ad just days ago.  Get ready for one of the biggest online political rumbles in history.

When Obama ran for President in 2008, his campaign was like none that had ever been seen before.  He hit YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, making history with the most successful social media campaign in the history of politics.  But he’s not alone in the social media game anymore.  In the last few years, politicians of all ages, from all parts of the country have been honing their social media skills.  Now, virtually every politician has YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.  Even Chuck Grassley.

With more politicians online, political campaigning has gotten a lot dirtier—over the past year all sorts of horribly inappropriate and ridiculous campaign ads were uploaded to YouTube.  There was Christine O’Donnell’s priceless ‘I’m Not a Witch, I’m You’ campaign, Carly Fiorina’s ‘Demon Sheep’ ad, a plethora of anti-Tea Party videos and, perhaps the weirdest, an anti-Sue Lowden viral video called ‘Bring a chicken to the doctor’.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the Presidential candidates will have more restraint than some of the senators and other politicians out there, but I’ve got a feeling we’re poised for some not-so-friendly campaign fights on YouTube leading up to Election 2012.

As a matter of fact, it’s already gotten started.  Last Thursday, several days before Obama launched his 2012 election campaign online, the NRSC launched their first anti-Obama 2012 video, called ‘President Barack Obama’s First Ad of 2012’.  The video poses as an Obama Campaign video, but focuses on “celebrating a President that brought American’s together” by uniting them in protesting against him; a President that spends most of his time playing golf; and that thinks we need to spend more money to keep from going bankrupt.

Of course, this isn’t the first anti-Obama video that the NRSC has released.  Over the last couple of months alone they released ‘Tim Kaine: Cheerleader-In-Chief’, ‘Obamacare Anniversary’‘Joe & O: On Tour’, and more.  In fact, if you head over to the NRSC YouTube page you’ll notice from all of the recent videos that they spend an awful lot of their time and resources on focusing on the negative sides of the opponent, rather than the positive sides of their own candidates.  And it seems like, more and more, this is the way that things are done in political elections.

I’m not saying that attack ads are something new.  I remember when I was in first grade, seeing an anti-Dukakis ad on television that featured huge piles of garbage and poor little baby birds stuck in all the trash (although I don’t remember the point of the ad, I was only 6-years old).  But what I am saying is that YouTube has given politicians the opportunity to engage in even more of the dirty variety of campaigning.  The budget for a YouTube video is much cheaper than that of a television ad, and the content can be much darker and inappropriate than television content can.

In Obama’s 2012 election campaign launch video, his constituents focus on the positive.  They talk about the good things that Obama has done and why they want to help get him reelected.  One constituent even admits, “I don’t agree with Obama on everything, but I respect him and I trust him.”  Hopefully the Obama campaign will be able to stay positive, despite the negativity that is being thrown at them through attack ads.  And hopefully Obama’s opponents will upload a few similarly-uplifting videos of their own.

I wish that more politicians and political organizations would leave attack ads behind them and focus on what makes themselves and their candidates the best.  It’s hard for voters to really get to know the issues at hand and understand who they want to vote for if the politicians’ campaigns are only focusing on undercutting their opponents.  It seems to me that if you feel the urge to focus on bringing you opponent down then you might not trust that you’ve got what it takes to win on your own.

What do you think of the way that the 2012 election campaign trail has started off on YouTube?  How dirty do you think things will get over the next year and a half?

Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times.  Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.

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