An unfamiliar place: Making sense of the current political landscape

Our political panel in Austin included Ted Jarrett, Josh Phoebus, and Major General Tom Carter.

Time and again the current presidential campaign has defied tradition, shedding any familiarity to previous election cycles. After a brutal primary season for candidates, the two presidential nominees and their running mates are ramping up the rhetoric.

The next 100 days are sure to mired in mudslinging, with more tweets, nicknames, and distractions from the real issues facing the nation.

Not all political discourse is petty. This weekend, I had the great opportunity to moderate a round table discussion in Austin, Texas. Three panelists with extensive backgrounds in politics and government provided a fascinating look at what is steering the national conversation into uncharted territory, including what one panelist called our “Kim Kardashian culture” that invents drama for entertainment.

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“…And I approve this message.”

Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and other new media have assumed a more prominent role in the 2008 Presidential election. Barack Obama is touting more than a million Facebook friends and John McCain is capitalizing on his “Original Maverick” brand of advertising.

This historic campaign is unlike any that we’ve seen in recent history, with a number of election “firsts.” Not only is the length of this campaign season notable, but the speed and intensity that has sustained is mind-boggling.

With the urgency and reach of the internet, there leaves no time for either side to take a quick breather. E-mail updates, social networking groups, YouTube, and countless other resources have the ability to influence millions of potential voters with a few carefully calculated keystrokes. The power of one medium, television, has not waned in the past 50 years. It continues to be the most effective and direct way to reach key voter demographics.  Continue reading