Digital Writing in Political Party Websites

Abstract

Political party websites are sites that are created by a particular political party to help promote their beliefs. As a whole, they are their own distinct genre because they all use similar linguistics and have similar purposes. The main purposes include providing information about their party as well as dishing the dirt on opposing parties. These websites use ethos, pathos, and logos in a variety of ways to accomplish their goals. Many political party websites also include information on how to get involved and become an active citizen on their websites. In this way, they become a place where community building is an important activity.

Key Ideas

Community Building in Political Party Websites

Many of the current political party websites also include information on how to get involved and become an active citizen on their websites. This is a form of community building. The Libertarian party site includes a box titled “Take Principled Action” that lists ways to get involved. These ways to get involved include register to vote, volunteer, request info, invite friends, and a few others. If a visitor uses this box it transforms that visitor into an active citizen that is heavily involved in politics. In “Genre and Identity: Citizenship in the Age of the Internet and the Age of Global Capitalism” Bazerman discusses an idea that relates to political party websites and community building. Bazerman writes, “Identities and forms of life get built within the evolving social spaces identified by recognizable communicative acts. In each of these examples, each person through genred communication learns more of his or her personal possibilities, develops communicative skills, and learns more of the world he or she is communicating with.” In this quote, Bazerman is explaining that not only are these websites a great way to build community but it also builds the skills and character of the users. Another political party website, Gop.com has a tab called “Act” which focuses on volunteer work and donating money to the political party. It also includes paid positions that are needed as well as ways to get the viewer’s voices heard. Democrats.org does not do as good of job at making it easy for the viewer to get involved. One of the options under one tab is job and internship opportunities, but you have to actually look through the site to find these opportunities.

Pathos in Political Party Websites

Political party websites find it useful to try to appeal to the readers’ emotions, in other words, the websites use pathos to convince the readers of the website’s beliefs. Different party websites try to accomplish this in different ways. Both gop.com and democrats.org use an overall coloring scheme of red, white, and blue. In this case, the website is appealing to the patriotic emotions of most citizens. Which means that the website is appealing to the viewers' sense of justice. Depending on the viewers' media ideologies this may be taken seriously in varying degrees. If some viewers believe that these websites should just be used to spread the news than these uses of pathos may fall on deaf ears. In contrast to the red, white, and blue color scheme, lp.com, the libertarian party website, uses gold and blue. They use these colors because they are the colors of the libertarian party. Since the libertarian party is not one of the two major parties in the United States they may see the need to promote themselves more than the democratic and republican parties. Two of the three political party websites also appeal to the viewers’ emotion by including patriotic graphics. Gop.com uses a graphic of the flag in the shape of the United States and lp.com uses multiple images of the Statue of Liberty. In this example, the website is again using content to appeal to the patriotic emotions of the viewers.

Ethos in Political Party Websites

Not all of the political party websites use Ethos directly, to influence the viewers. However, lp.com includes a short description of their party, “The Party of Principle” in the header of the page. In this example, the website tries to build its credibility with the first thing a viewer looks at on the website. This example is also an example of pathos which shows that multiple kinds of rhetorical appeals can coincide with each other. Both democrats.org and gop.com do not provide a direct statement as the lp.com site does. However, just by looking at how well designed each of their websites are it gives the viewer the idea that these are not just any organizations but very well run organizations. As with the example, many times the use of ehtos is not concrete. One reason that the lp.com website includes a statement that gives them a reputation directly may be that not everyone knows what they stand for.

Logos in Political Party Websites

Each political party website uses Logos, or an appeal to logic, to help persuade the readers to agree with the beliefs of the party. Since we have a democratic president the gop.com website starts attacking what has been happening in the White House at the top of their page. One image is the “Get the Obama Debt Watch Widget.” In this image the amount of money that the United States is in debt is displayed as a running total. Overall this widget claims that Obama is not doing a good job, at least not financially. In this example, the website actually uses facts to back up their claim even though the facts they include may make the situation appear differently than it actually is. If viewers don't take the widget at face value many questions will be raised so the overall value of this widget may not be what the website wanted. The image right next to the “debt watch widget” image is an image of President Obama titled “Stimulus Spotlight Project.” This appeals to the reader’s logic as well because if a project is spotlighted than logically the viewer will consider it. And since you can follow a link to a petition as well as additional information it tries to convince the viewer using logic. Signing a petition is also a form of community building especially if there are forums or other forms of communication tied to them. The Libertarian Party on the other hand has a link to a quiz to see if you are a libertarian. This is the most blatant use of logos by any of the websites. It uses a series of questions that relate to the beliefs of different parties. If after the questions it labels the viewer as a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, etc. than logically the viewer will at least think about the questions and which party they should follow.

Conclusion

Political party websites represent an important role in the political party system. Even though they use whatever they can to connect with the reader, they are able to inform many citizens of the important news of the day. When all is said and done, political party websites have found their niche and are now an integral part of our political party system.

References
  1. Bazerman, Charles. “The Rhetoric and Ideology of Genre.” Hampton Press Inc.
  2. Democrats Change That Matters. DNC Services Corporation. Web. 27 Sept. 2011.
  3. GOP.Republican National Committee. Web. 27 Sept. 2011.
  4. Libertarian Party. Libertarian National Committee. Web. 27 Sept 2011.