Dartmouth students create Web site to make election ‘brocessible’
Aug. 19, 2008
DARTMOUTH COLLEGE — An image of Barack Obama grinning beneath a backwards hat and a pair of Wayfarers greets visitors to Brobama.org, a new Web site devoted to clarifying what the presidential candidate means to “the common bro.”
Brobama.org is the brainchild of Dartmouth College fraternity brethren and rising seniors Lee Cooper and Scott Henning. The pair were inspired to launch the site this summer, while working at political internships in Washington D.C. Cooper is a member of The Dartmouth staff.
“We had heard people use ‘Brobama’ around Dartmouth and elsewhere,” Cooper said. “So one day on the Metro home from work we decided it would be funny to expand upon the ‘Brobama’ concept in a more substantive way.”
The site is essentially a sieve, translating important political news into “bro” colloquialisms.
Take the recent scandal over The New Yorker’s ill-received Obama cover-art, for example. Brobama.org summed up the entire commotion in 42 words, under the headline “Dudes need to chill.”
“We thought we might be able to better translate campaign coverage and political news for people our age who might not otherwise be interested,” Henning said.
Obama himself was a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School.
During his presidential campaign, Obama’s opponents have raised doubts about his ability to appeal to the white male voters of middle America.
The image of Obama daintily – too daintily – sipping his beer at a campaign event in a bar caused a stir in the media this spring, while the Republican campaign continues to seize any opportunity to paint Obama as prissy and out of touch with the American public.
Brobama.org depicts Obama not only as in touch, but also in the language of “broters,” or voters of the college-age set.
Snappy and sincere, the web site summarizes each new campaign issue by breaking the politics down into brolitics: “News,” “Context” and “What this means for the common Bro.”
The miniscule attention span of the common bro is clearly a top concern, though the issues sometimes seem glossed over a little too heavily.
An update on Obama’s foreign policy concerning Iraq, titled “On the Broffensive” boils the politician’s speech down to: “War is real tough, and neither Obama nor McCain can change that, but Obama wants to refocus our efforts.”
Cooper, who was himself a candidate for president of the student body at Dartmouth this past spring, is currently working at a D.C. think tank, the Hudson Institute.
Henning is currently interning for his district’s congresswoman on Capitol Hill. Both Henning and Cooper are brothers in Alpha Delta fraternity.
“Launching the site took quite a bit of time,” Cooper said. “But now that it’s running more or less smoothly we spend about an hour per day on the site and entries, plus the time required to keep up with election news.”
Currently the site is updated every two or three days.
“We’re limited right now just because we’re working,” Henning said. “Hopefully updates will become more frequent.”
The creators of Brobama.org hope that their site can fill the need for political media that is both appealing and informative for college students, or bros and bro-ettes, the terms they prefer to use.
The current perception, according to Henning, is that college students have either rallied blindly to Obama’s cause without any real understanding of the issues, or are disinterested. Brobama.org hopes to change both of these problems.
“Politics need to be more brocessible,” the site proclaims, hoping to take advantage of the largely untapped political leverage of sites like Facebook.com and YouTube.com to draw more college students into the discussion on the 2008 presidential campaign.
In a post titled “McCain Has No Brogramming Skills,” about the recent revelation that John McCain considers himself computer “illiterate,” the bros behind Brobama.org come to the heart of the issue.
In explaining what this gaffe of the McCain campaign means for their target audience, they write: “Computers aren’t just for nerds these days. They can help a good bro communicate better.”