Well, it's that time again--time for presidential elections to bog
down the newspapers for a month or two. While Bill Clinton and Bob Dole
exchange sound bites (and Ross Perot does whatever it is that he
does--probably talk with Larry King), the public is treated to reading about
every bit of it over and over again in the newspapers. However, a
well-informed public is the key to a well-run government. Just as images
and quotes from the candidates flood every visual and print medium, the
Internet is also becoming a part of the political game. Political parties,
their candidates, election information, polls, and even parodies are popping
up all over the World Wide Web. We'd like to take a chance to look at some
of these sites.
First, let's glance at a few of the websites for the parties
themselves. The Republicans, Democrats, and the Reform Party all sport
their own pages on the World Wide Web. Their URLs are:
The less-prominent parties:
All of these sites can be quite informative. They generally include
information on the party's platform and history, its contact information, a
chance to contribute funds, and all sorts of other tidbits.
There are also a number of sites devoted entirely to the
presidential election. Most include polls, platform information, and lots
of other goodies. These include:
These pages tend to cover the election in a non-biased way, as
compared to the party and candidate sites. By recording the election as it
happens, they offer up-to-date news on the candidates and the issues.
It would be proper to begin this discussion of the candidates
with the defending champion, William Jefferson Clinton, (a.k.a. Bill
Clinton, Bubba, Slick Willy). Clinton is a Democrat and former governor of
the lovely state of Arkansas. He defeated George Bush in the election of
'92 and has spent the past four years in the Oval Office. He is a
self-described conservative democrat.
Clinton's platform is typical of the Democratic party. He is
concerned with getting a national health-care program set up and is also
known for his involvement with minority rights. As for the Internet
censorship issue, Clinton expressed disappointment earlier in the year when
the Communications Act (famous for its hatred among Internet users) was
overturned. However, he now agrees that perhaps there might be a better way
to handle the situation.
The official Clinton homepage is of average
quality. It features a nice (yet possibly overly) graphical look, yet very
average content. All in all, a better effort could have been put forth, but
it is still worth a visit.
Bob Dole is Clinton's primary challenger in the upcoming election.
A Republican hailing from Kansas, Dole has been a member of the Senate since
Julius Caesar was assassinated there. Until his recent retirement to
concentrate on the presidential run, he served as Senate Majority Leader for
the Republican Party.
Dole is a conservative individual, focusing a great deal of his
campaign toward attacking the corrupt values fed to America's youth by
Hollywood. On the issue of Internet censorship, Dole feels that
legislation is not the answer. He feels that it is a parent's
responsibility to make sure his or her child doesn't access the wrong kind
of sites and chatrooms.
Dole's website is superior to that of the other candidates. It has a nice, professional look to it and
also presents a large amount of content about the candidate and his party
stances. It's oft-repeated mantra, "More opportunities. Smaller
Government. Stronger and safer families," seems to sum up Dole's campaign in
Ross Perot, founder of the Reform Party and all-around hilarious
guy, is once again taking a shot at the presidency in the 1996 election.
The notorious third factor in the Bush/Clinton race of 1992, it's hard to
tell what sort of impact he may have this year.
Perot, one of America's richest businessmen, looks at the United
States government as a large business and plans to, if elected, run it as
such. Specializing in homespun common-sense nuggets of wisdom and nifty
charts, Perot may be a serious contender this year as the Reform Party gains
more and more support.
Perot doesn't have a personal campaign website. The Reform Party's
homepage doubles as his own. The sharing of
this site leads to a general lack of information about Perot's campaign,
making it the most disappointing of the three.
Another aspect of the election to be found on the Web are parodies
of the various candidates' sites. Chief among these are:
Both of these sites poke good-natured fun at the candidates in the
finest Saturday Night Live sort of fashion. Check out both and find out
interesting things like the fact that Bob Dole is president of the Dole Fruit Company.
Also, on the Web, there are a growing number of campaign simulation
games that allow you to play out an election of your own. The two most
These sites offer a chance to play along with the hustle and bustle
of a campaign and can be quite a bit of fun once you get into them.
So, it is clear that the Internet is the newest soapbox for
presidential politics. The sites mentioned above are just a few of the many
that any search engine will turn up today.
Why are so many of these sites turning up? It's simple, really.
The candidates realize that many of the Internet generation (the "Saved by
the Bell" Generation, as I like to refer to them) will be voting for the
first time in the 1996 election. Therefore, it is chief among their
priorities to try to encourage this important demographic to participate in
the upcoming election.
Now, if you're over eighteen, make sure to get registered, get
informed, and get involved. And, as a wise man once said, "Vote early and
vote often." Well, you might want to ignore that last part.
[back to verbosity]