I’ve been watching the news around the election of Obama. On TV and the web. It’s a big thing. Even in the Netherlands the news was on tv all through the night and it brought a lot of emotions. I send and got a lot of SMSes from American friends that were overwhelmed with joy when Obama was declared the winner of the elections.
I felt his victory speech was amazing. Obama shows great leadership when he talked about similarities instead of differences. Hope instead of fear. He is not trying to divide but to unite. He will face some of the most difficult problems any president could face. A financial crisis, 8 years of war and neglect of the home country. But somehow he will manage to get the United States back on track, restoring hope to those that lost it during the Bush administration. The evidence is already there. Just look at how he won this election.
I believe Obama, unlike McCain or the rest of the republican party, managed to do something that no other Presidential candidate could have done before. He managed to set fire to communities. He brought a message of hope and he manged to let others take that message and mobilize the American people. We see the power of communities on-line in our web 2.0 view of the word. But Obama was able to ignite that power way beyond the boundaries of the web into the physical world. He has changed the way any presidential candidate will ever campaign again. He has shown that if you have a great message and you are able to bring that message to the community, people will get involved. And he isn’t just the president of the current generation, he got the coming generation to get involved and vote.
If anything this election has shown that the effect of traditional media like TV isn’t nearly as powerful as (online) communities. The old fashioned TV campaigns that the Republicans used to discredit Obama failed because it didn’t bring involvement or hope. It merely brought fear and apathy. While the Republicans were doing the thing they are used to doing, Obama mobilised people on the streets, in stadiums, on the web. He talked of hope, of possibilities and he was able to get young and old people involved spreading the word for him.
There is no way back now. This election has shown that engagement wins over one-way media. The person that gets the people engaged, that leverages the strength of communities, will win. We have seen this strength on the Internet, and now we see it crossing the boundaries of the web into a nation. It’s a lesson for us all. People got involved because they wanted to, not because someone forced them. This involvement ignited the country. And it is this power that got Obama to win the elections.
There is nothing more powerful than an engaged community.