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Don’t cry for me Hillary

January 9th, 2008 by Lloyd Gofton

If Hillary Clinton is to be believed it was her water works on Monday that secured her win in New Hampshire, as reported by the Guardian.

Although showing her human vulnerability will have undoubtedly won her more votes, was this really the key to her success?

On reading the account of Clinton’s victory it really brought home how much these old school tactics are still central to success in politics, and personally I find it a bit sickening and boring.

As a Brit watching from a far it’s easy to be critical, and I know our own politicians are just as guilty, and our voters just as naive, but wouldn’t it be wonderful to be treated like adults and cut through the games to get to the heart of the matter?

As a digital communicator I would love to turn to the web for a bit of honest two-way political communication, and politicians are embracing the web as a key route to specific voting groups.

As Jeff Jarvis pointed out yesterday, Barack Obama has used the web strategically to reach the younger voter and get them interested again, which reflects how successful the web can be as a political machine. It also suggests that winning votes is more about hitting the right audiences with the right message, something that we should be familiar with, and something the web can do very well – at least for certain types of voters.

And there-in lies the problem. Could the web be a driver for more open and honest communications in politics? Yes. Is the web an increasingly important medium for political communications?Definitely. Will that reduce these ‘built for TV’ and cringeworthy displays? Probably not. At least not yet.

At the moment, the weapon of mass election is the TV, where a well crafted speech or public display of emotion can be much more powerful than a specialised campaign dealing with real issues.

Let’s hope the web becomes a more central political vehicle for the next US election, as I fear the next UK election will be too soon.

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