Users who visit Whitehouse.gov, the official website of the United States President, are now greeted with a gun control pop-up message before they can reach the main site.
The message reads, “Now is the time to do something about gun violence. Our voices are louder when we speak together." Clicking the “Learn More” button takes users to another page that encourages users to speak out on social media websites to promote gun control. The website states, “[Congressmen] are only going to act on [Obama’s commonsense proposals] if they hear from the American people.”
Users who somehow circumvent the pop-up and reach the home page will still encounter a massive banner with the same message.
Another Whitehouse.gov page reads, “Our nation has suffered too much at the hands of dangerous people who use guns to commit horrific acts of violence. As President Obama said following the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, ‘We won’t be able to stop every violent act, but if there is even one thing that we can do to prevent any of these events, we have a deep obligation, all of us, to try.’”
Gun rights advocates aren’t particularly thrilled about Obama’s aggressive advertising campaign. A writer from Twitchy wrote, “The official White House website is owned by the government. You know, for the people and by the people. Ha! Not according to the Obama administration.” The writer also reminds readers that the Obama Administration promoted the #My2K campaign on the Whitehouse.gov site late last year.
This online campaign isn’t terribly out of line for President Obama. He has proven to be one of the most social media savvy presidents in US history, successfully using YouTube and Twitter to communicate with the American people.
The question implied by Twitchy is whether or not Obama is stepping out of line by transforming Whitehouse.gov into a political soap box. Is the official government website fair game for political campaigning under the classic spoils system, or should Whitehouse.gov, which represents each new president, somehow be above political maneuvering?
Regardless, Obama has helped to establish a trend that isn’t likely to be broken by future presidents. The only question that remains is how effective this Whitehouse.gov-endorsed campaign will be as Congress prepares to address major gun control legislation.