I just went to the websites of the top six candidates currently vying for their party's presidential nomination. Mitt. Barack. Hillary. McCain. Rudy. Edwards. With the exception of McCain's, they all asked for the viewers' name and email address (and in many cases, a donation of time and/or money) before you even got to their site. On McCain's site, money and information is asked for alongside the landing page's key visual.
This frightens me and I don't think I'm overreacting. It frightens me because it is about candidates taking from us as opposed to doing for us. It also is evidence of a profound lack of understanding that the president is not meant to be an imperial presence, rather, an exalted public servant. In other words, where is the value exchange here? Direct Marketing 101 would tell you that you shouldn't ask of the customer without promising something to the customer, ie. "I'll give you my email address in exchange for a coupon." Quid pro quo is missing from these sites. Semiotically that augers ill.
Here's what I wish the sites did.
"This I believe." By Candidate X.
1. I believe that the global war on terror will exist as long as we are dependent on foreign oil.
2. Therefore I believe we must spend a dollar amount equal to half our current defense budget to find a non-polluting, regenerating energy source. Not corn, which is the pawn of the Agri-business lobby. Not coal which is deadly. Not nuclear which is deadlier. We will do this before my first term is done in 2012.
And so on.