How Social Networking Can Reinvigorate American Democracy and Civic Participation
The 2008 campaign represented a textbook example of digital mobilization and impact. Using social networking outreach tools such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, a number of Democratic and Republican candidates raised money, identified supporters, and built unprecedented virtual electoral coalitions. Despite social networking’s track record for generating democratic engagement, it has proven difficult to sustain political interest and activism online over time and move electronic engagement from campaigns to governance. Faced with a polarized political environment and arcane debates over legislative provisions, many Americans have opted out of the online civic participation which was so prolific during the 2008 election cycle.
On June 28, the Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings convened a discussion forum focused on using social networking and digital tools to reinvigorate democracy and extend electronic engagement from campaigns and grassroots-activism to governance. Participants discussed strategies for voter empowerment, citizen engagement, and governance transformation. Questions examined included: What tools does government use to engage the American people, and how have these engagement strategies evolved? How does social networking improve participation and collaboration in governance? What does current research say? What role should industry actors such as Facebook and Twitter play in encouraging online civic participation?
After the program, panelists took audience questions.