The way we welcome a new President has changed so much that the experience isn’t just a matter of gathering with loved ones on the rug in the living room and huddling around a TV or a radio. We communicate with our friends and family, with our global community instantly. When Barack Hussein Obama prepared to take the Oath of Office, every detail was tracked, documented, and spread across the Internet. We all knew McCain and Hillary Clinton were at a disadvantage because they weren’t candidates who understood this about the modern world. Obama was. And is.
And so it went, that 2009 brought in a man who wasn’t just a President whose election was won on television, it was won on the Internet. For the first time, viewers didn’t necessarily need to be plugged into TV to watch. There was streaming video on CNN and NBC. There was a YouTube of the speech moments later.
Obama’s speech will likely be turned into inspirational YouTube compilations set to music and spread throughout the web. Those videos will get response videos made to them. This isn’t just a momentary cultural event, this is a deeply embedded one.
The inauguration was shared much the way the election was person to person, link to link, site to site. But there was something different in the air last Tuesday, something most of us have never experienced. Optimism bobbed up to the surface. People were proud to carry the American flag and wear red, white, and blue. The day we accepted our new President was a day for celebration for both Democrats and Republicans because even those who loathe the liberals can’t help but be blown back by the hot winds of history in the making.
Local network television began covering the inauguration at 4 a.m. Reporters were spending half their time monitoring the vast numbers piling into D.C. and half their time talking about this being the first time an African-American was elected President. Waiting in the wings is the mess Obama is being called upon to clean up. That was also discussed.
But when Obama took the stage, and the crowd roared louder and with more passion than they have in decades, the world felt like it was tipping over into freefall. How far could this thing go? How high? But Obama’s calm words did what they always do: they reassured an anxious crowd that, as long as we work together, everything is going to be closer to fine.
Funnily enough, the democratic spirit of the Internet helps ensure that it will be. While television news may be corporate owned, the people still rule on the wild, wild net. And we finally have a president who refused to give up his Blackberry, so entrenched in technology is he.