Another online public engagement tool in the US elections

Supporters of the Obama campaign have set up a website aimed at giving the public a chance to put forward ideas, and comment and rate each other’s ideas.  It’s billed as an “unofficial campaign thinktank”.  Of course, a lot of it is about providing yet another way to draw potential supporters in and build on the already formidable database of contacts and small scale donors supporting Obama – which is only to be expected as part of a political campaign.

Applying a term like ‘thinktank’ to the site is grossly overstating it, given the focus of the site and the way it is structured.  None the less, there is value in providing a forum for people to air their ideas and provide feedback.  Most of the ideas contributed relate more to campaign tactics and messages, rather than policy ideas – the most popular current one urging more effort be put into highlighting the fact that Obama has far greater support than McCain does amongst US soldiers in Iraq. However, there are some ideas which links to policy areas such as health and transparency. Getting people supporting, talking and thinking about these issues – in short getting them engaged them with the political process – can only be a good thing.

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