Rock the Votocracy: Presidents from the Internet

In my last blog post I wondered about the presidency of a person from Generation Y. I suppose I’m on a bit of a political tear, because after recently running across a site called Votocracy, I wonder even more about future American leaders. It could be said that it isn’t terribly important if the next president is indeed a true, dyed-to-the-wool Millennial–currently attending Williams or Amherst and listening to Kid Cudi when s/he isn’t getting ironic tattoos and laughing at Nyan Cat. It’s a far more interesting proposition that the next president may emerge from the seedy underbelly of the World Wide Web.

Just ask Paul Vasquez.

Vasquez is only known to close friends and family, I would imagine, as “Paul Vasquez.” The Internet, and thereby most of humanity, knows him as “Double Rainbow Guy,” for the intense admiration he had for a bilayered spectrum that appeared over his mobile home in January 2010. After uploading a video called “Yosemitebear Mountain Giant Double Rainbow 1-8-10″ to YouTube from his Hungrybear9562 account (on which he breathes, “Woah, that’s a full rainbow! All the way! Oh my god!”), the video went unnoticed for months before, on July 3, 2010, Jimmy Kimmel linked it in a tweet and ESPN columnist Bill Simmons retweeted it an hour later. The next day HuffPo was carrying a short article about the video–making him, literally, into an overnight sensation.

But Vasquez wants to translate his Internet fame into more than interviews with CBS News and commercials with Microsoft (which he’s done). CNN reported this summer that he also wants a crack at being leader of the free world, and that he intends to use the social media capital he’s amassed to git ‘er done.

Enter Votocracy–the Facebook application with which Vasquez will be campaigning. With the slogan “More voices, more choices” and billing itself as “the great political equalizer,” Votocracy’s user-friendly website tells visitors that “anyone with the passion to run for president–including you–can get involved, get heard, and attract supporters from all across the country … without political experience or big financial backers.”

A three-minute YouTube video on the home page puts human faces to the app: people of all ages and agendas say they want to be POTUS for all sorts of reasons, from the fact they never did like mainstream politicians to their desire to leave “a legacy” for their children. Want to start your own journey to the White House? Just log into Votocracy with a Facebook account and, for a dollar, begin! Even taking into account that it actually costs $100 to campaign through the site and the paltry down payment assumes you can raise the rest through backers, “Compare that to the $8,100 you would have to spend just to get on the ballot in all 50 states,” the CNN.com story notes.

People become supporters of someone by “Like”-ing his or her Votocracy page. (Facebook much?) At the time of the CNN story, Vasquez had 50 “Likes”–which seems like a small number until you realize that most candidates have four or five supporters. Although it’s of course very difficult for people to convince total strangers they deserve to be president, by 2012 someone from Votocracy will officially be running for prez. CNN reports that Votocracy will soon devise a system that pits the most popular candidates from each state and Washington, D.C. against each other in a head-to-head competition that, if televised, won’t be too dissimilar from “American Idol.”

Electoral college? Try electronic. We saw it with Rock the Vote a few years back, and we saw it with the groundbreaking use of social media in Barack Obama’s campaign. Votocracy represents the future of politics: digitality.

Brittany Coombs

Brittany is a former student in Georgetown's CCT program and is a Lead Blogger for gnovis. At Dartmouth College she majored in Modified Sociology, a hand-made major that analyzed communications theories through a "sociologically imaginative" lens. Her writings promote but question the intersection of humanities and digitality currently rising in academia. Her favorite area of study is Internet culture, as it houses the remix, meme, and citizen journalist subcultures. Brittany is a Baltimore native, a member of the coeducational Alpha Theta "frarority," and an avid lover of Motown music. She looks forward to a career in journalism, either old-school or online.

  • http://twitter.com/jhubanks Josh Hubanks

    Confession time: I had to look up Nyan Cat. And wowzer! Color me mystified–and also dispossessed of any Ovular-Official aspirations. Imagine the civics textbook of the future: “A candidate for the Presidency of the United States of America must be a natural-born citizen of the United States, at least 35 years of age, a resident of the United States for at least 14 years, and totally down with teh Nyan Catz LOL.”

    In all seriousness, though, I loved this piece. So tell me: Votocracy — laughable or laudable?