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Election moments we love: 2008 edition

2008 New Hampshire Primaries, courtesy of Arnie Alpert Photo: Arnie Alpert / AFSC

(Part 2 of a 5 part series)

Feel like this primary season is missing something? Like hope and humor? We do, too. Our election series began as a pushback against the idea that anger and disillusionment were the top concerns of primary voters. We wanted to take this break in the primary action as an opportunity to flashback to 2008, which had plenty of hope and more than a little humor. Join us and the WayBack Machine in part two of our Election Moments series.

2008: Or, that time we thought social media might change politics

The 2008 presidential election was the first election year that social media was leveraged in a big way not only by voters and opinion-makers but also with the candidates that hoped to win them over. Media outlets were unsure whether ‘social media activity’ would impact results (how cute!), academics were theorizing the role of MySpace, and bloggers were gawking over the 1.8 million tweets sent on election day. That number, by the way, is now more like 500 million on any ordinary day.

While the rest of us were apparently scratching our heads over the influence of new media,  then Senator Obama was busy raising an unprecedented amount of money on the Internet, friending folks (his word) left and right on Facebook, and starring in ‘Obama Girl,’ a series of musical montages that, at the time, were the most popular YouTube videos of all time. That was of course before Kid President showed us all how. It's. Done.

As the media swooned over Obama, Hillary Clinton struggled both to wrest her coverage from her husband’s legacy and to compete against a candidate who was perceived as both a more inspiring figure and a more effective grassroots organizer (does any of this sound familiar?). Now that we think of it, the actual 2008 presidential election bore a brief but striking resemblance to Swing Vote, that movie where one voter is lionized as representative of the entire American electorate and counted on to decide the outcome of the election. In fact, both Senators Obama and McCain tried so hard to court Joe the Plumber that he was reportedly mentioned more times in one presidential debate than the U.S. economy and Iraq combined.

Ah, memories.

All kidding aside, we get where Tom Brokaw was coming from. But when we watch election coverage these days, we feel like the hopeful part and the humor part are both missing. Elections are about hopes and dreams for the future. And they can be really fun, if we all play together. In the words of Kid President, we can all be on the same team. 

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