Today, President Obama staged a second townhall on Twitter, answering questions from the public on the country's financial woes. It's not the first time President Obama has used Twitter to field questions from the public, but today's effort shows that he's serious about utilizing social media to deal with specific policy initiatives, not just for campaigning. While the country's impending "fiscal cliff" must ultimately be resolved in the chambers of Congress — where laws regarding government spending are forged — the president has taken to Twitter to engage with citizens, and fulfill his role as the nation's chief policy cheerleader. Of course, it's hard to have a serious discussion about anything on Twitter when each message is limited to 140 characters, and today's Twitter townhall from President Obama provided just eight exiguous responses (seven, unless you count tweets evaluating the prospects of the Chicago Bears).
The president's use of social media has been less about rigorous debate and more about marketing
So far, the president's use of social media has been less about rigorous debate and more about marketing. Earlier this year, Obama gave Reddit its biggest day in history — a feat achieved after answering just ten questions in an "Ask Me Anything" session. He also published the most popular tweet of all time on the day of his presidential victory. (In fact, the president's team has set a number of records on Twitter.) All this comes as no surprise, since the President's election team is credited with perhaps the most adept use of technology for fundraising and messaging in the nation's history, but it does illuminate the path ahead for American politics, one where social media and the internet are major destinations for politicians, even if only to pay lip service to a connected public.