Analysis of President '96

In his essay, "The Political Computer: Hypertext, Democracy, and Habermas," Charles Ess addresses the
"belief that hypertext technologies, especially as those technologies include computer communication
networks, may lead to a democratization of society (Ess 246)." This idea is held by many theorists like
George Landow and Mark Poster, who see in electronic systems such as the World Wide Web the potential
for citizens to play a greater role in self-governance.

But how might one define this new type of
'cyberdemocracy'? Does the fact that people have quicker and more comprehensive access to information
signal an expansion of the democratic process? Or must enhanced participation by citizens be the essential
factor in such an expansion? President '96, is a political campaign simulation designed by Crossover
, in conjunction with America OnLine and the Markle Foundation, which provides a revealing
glance at the potential function of cyberdemocracy.

This site enacts an imaginary race for the presidency which draws on current personalities and issues. A look
at the list of Republican, Democrat and Independent candidates reveals characters who have real-life
correlation to President Clinton, Bob Dole, Ross Perot and Anne Richards, to name a few. The issues that
are deigned important in the President '96 simulation also have contemporary relevance: candidates and
players state their positions on topics like abortion and school vouchers. Though simply a game for political
junkies, President '96 raises quite a few questions about democracy's relation to computer technology.