Everything Barack Obama Said During Yesterday’s Reddit AMA
Ever heard of Reddit? If not, it just probably means you have a life beyond the Internet. But if you work on the Internet (like us!), or have no other hobbies besides the Internet, you’re probably on Reddit at least a couple of times a week. Reddit is a social news website where users submit stories, jokes, photos and news. On any given day, thousands of users are on Reddit, talking about politics, atheism (a surprisingly big category) and technology. They’re also sharing a ton of cat and dog videos and pictures, and telling cute stories about their kids. Reddit’s audience is largely young white males, particularly nerds. But love it or hate it, Reddit is an increasingly influential presence on the Internet — and in a sense, as Reddit goes, so goes the world (of the Internet).
As proof of how influential it is, yesterday President Barack Obama spent an hour or so on Reddit for an AMA session. AMA stands for “ask me anything,” and Reddit users did — querying the president on everything from student loan debt and campaign finance reform to his favorite basketball player and the recipe for the White House beer. The Reddit servers were so overwhelmed with interest that at one point the site all but crashed. It was a rare example of direct democracy, with the president interacting directly with his constituents (a friend of mine in the campaign office confirms that it was actually the president, and not some of his underlings on the line). To simplify your reading of the president’s responses, we’ve singled out the questions and answers the president gave (grammatical errors and all!). Check ‘em out after the jump!
What are you going to do to end the corrupting influence of money in politics during your second term?
Money has always been a factor in politics, but we are seeing something new in the no-holds barred flow of seven and eight figure checks, most undisclosed, into super-PACs; they fundamentally threaten to overwhelm the political process over the long run and drown out the voices of ordinary citizens. We need to start with passing the Disclose Act that is already written and been sponsored in Congress — to at least force disclosure of who is giving to who. We should also pass legislation prohibiting the bundling of campaign contributions from lobbyists. Over the longer term, I think we need to seriously consider mobilizing a constitutional amendment process to overturn Citizens United (assuming the Supreme Court doesn’t revisit it). Even if the amendment process falls short, it can shine a spotlight of the super-PAC phenomenon and help apply pressure for change.
What was the most difficult decision that you had to make during this term?