Under the auspices of the Italy-USA Foundation, the book “Letter dal Presidente” (“Letters from the President”) by Ilaria Rapacchio will be published for the first time in Italy. The book includes Italian translations of all of the emails that President Barack Obama sent to his supporters during the 2008 presidential campaign. Below you may read a translation of the introduction written by the President of the Italy-USA Foundation, Hon. Rocco Girlanda.
Barack Obama is certainly the first great leader of the era of Facebook. At the end of 2004, Obama was not yet a senator, but still an unknown representative of the State Assembly of Illinois. Born in Hawaii and raised in Indonesia, he is the son of a Kenyan that he has practically never known and an anthropologist from Kansas. How was it possible that this unknown democratic candidate conquered not only the White House, but changed the face of politics and leadership on the world? New media and languages played a primary role. Truly, new forms of communication and information, as well as social networks, from Twitter to Youtube and Flickr to Facebook, allow today that which we are able to call the “politics of an outsider”, which was unthinkable until a few years ago. Even in Europe, young candidates are born and explode onto the political scene through to the internet. The speed of the world wide web and the constant immediate transfer of information to tens of millions of people, often “targeted” customers who are perfect for political marketing, allows an affirmation of leadership that traditional politics never could have imagined, closed as it was in the apparatuses and bureaucracy of parties. With this new media comes changes in language and codes, that must necessarily adjust itself to the briefest, most immediate and direct forms as demanded by the conventions of the internet. Obama at once perceived the enormous potential of the internet revolution. While the American people were awaiting confirmation regarding his candidacy to the White House in late 2006, Obama decided to shoot a video that began with the solemnity of a speech by a Senator of the U.S. Congress, focusing on his upcoming electoral campaign for the presidency and created great hopes. But at the end of his video, instead of delivering the expected announcement, Obama drew out a Chicago Bears cap and laughingly declared his support for the team. The video, in a few short hours, became a hit with bloggers and Youtube, immediately carrying Obama to the highest peaks of popularity. The advent of Barack Obama changes not only American politics, but the global vision of politics. Take, for example, the data on electoral contributions received during his campaign, which are distinct not because of the usual conspicuous donations from large corporations, but rather the millions of individual contributions of a dollar received through the internet. Between Obama’s generation and that of other American politicians, we find the same differences as between Wikipedia and an old encyclopedia that is kept for years in the library. Whatever the outcome of his presidency may be, the electoral campaign of Barack Obama and his resultant victory has truly helped to forever change the world of Western politics.
This post is also available in: Italiano