The Facebook Administration

In November 2007, at the Iowa Jefferson-Jackson dinner, Hillary Clinton’s top adviser, Mandy Grunwald, and chief strategist, Mark Penn, examined the Obama supporters in the room. “Our people look like caucus-goers,” Ms. Grunwald told reporters, according to Politico.com, “and his people look like they are 18. Penn said they look like Facebook.”

But Mr. Obama’s Facebook generation made its voice heard on Election Day. Twenty-three million young voters turned out last week, the most since 1984.

“[N]ow Senator Obama’s 20-month conversation with the electorate enters a new phase,” wrote David Carr on Nov. 9 in The New York Times. “There is sense of ownership, a kind of possessive entitlement, on the part of the people who worked to elect him. The shorthand for his organizing Web site, ‘MyBO,’ says it all.”

Change.gov, Mr. Obama’s transition Web site, is already urging them to participate: “The story of the campaign and this historic moment has been your story. Share your story and your ideas, and be part of bringing positive lasting change to this country.” You can even fill out a very simple application to become part of his new administration.

The test now is to see whether Mr. Obama and his administration will use Facebook and e-mail and their other new-media gadgets to actually guide their decisions and create an open democracy. He promised to Webcast government meetings, give “fireside chats” and offer spaces on the White House site for voter views.

And there to help him will be an administration that already has online connections to voters. This isn’t John McCain learning to log on. This is the country’s decision makers, there for you to send a message to, or to write on their wall. Or to bring into your network. They’re all just a few clicks away. So, go ahead. “Add as friend.”

greagan@observer.com

The Facebook Administration