So why did we lose?
We were fighting on the wrong battlefield.
The real fight for hearts and minds was happening on twitter.
Does that make you snicker? Maybe you're not part of the digital generation and don't see the value in social media at all. Or maybe, since you're here, you do see the value in certain types of social media, but 140-character status updates just aren't your cup of tea. Not substantive enough. Not enough space to say something that really matters. Just another place to throw out a status update.
Besides, there are so many idiots on twitter.
Guess who decided this election...
I'll give you a hint. Barack Obama made social media history, according to The Guardian, Tuesday night when he tweeted this and it was re-tweeted by followers more than 700,000 times... by the following morning.
|Four More Years... re-tweeted 791,215 times|
The unprecedented viral success of the post confirmed the role that social media played in the US presidential campaign, and abroad.
There were more than 31 million election-related tweets on Tuesday night, making election night "the most tweeted about event in U.S. political history," Twitter spokeswoman Rachael Horwitz told Reuters.
But wait a minute, isn't Mitt Romney on twitter, too? Yes! In fact, there are over a dozen official twitter profiles associated with Mitt Romney, his road team, his VP, his first lady, his campaign staff.
Unfortunately, as would be true for any challenger, he had nowhere near as many followers on twitter or facebook as the sitting president. Today, Mitt Romney's official twitter page has 1,778,351 and Barack Obama has 22,933,844. That disparity surely impacts the personal reach of each politician for getting important messages out to the people. There's no way Mitt Romney could have come close to Barack Obama's tweet reach, not without a lot of help from tweeters.
I don't mean to imply there were no conservatives on twitter. There are some incredibly intelligent, prolific twitterers spreading the conservative word on twitter. And there's twitchy.com, where Michelle Malkin compiles left-leaning tweets for conservatives to respond. That certainly gets conversations going.
But it isn't enough. Not in quantity and not in efficacy.
Many, many conservative commentators, professional and lay, lamented the negative, juvenile tone of this election. For goodness sake, our PRESIDENT called his opponent a BS-er, and his close friend Beyonce tweeted post-election, "Take that, Mitches." This is not high-brow. If we want to change the culture in our country (and the WORLD), a good place to start is twitter. And if we want to change the culture on twitter, we need to be there.
Rock the Vote was there.
They're right. They should not be ignored. According to Huffington Post, young voters (18-29) represented a record 19% of the electorate, one point up from 2008. Guess how much of that Barack Obama got? 60%. The disparity between young voters in the two parties is shrinking, but not fast enough for this growing voting demographic. If they are going to come out in greater and greater numbers, we had better make sure they aren't voting with their #ladyparts -- or manparts, for that matter.Congratulations! Against all odds and because of our work and the collective power of our generation, we were heard!The pundits are talking about the winners and losers. We think that’s a stupid f*cking idea. Let’s talk about this: Last night, we proved that we are engaged, we vote, and that we are a political force that cannot be ignored.
It's discouraging to see our election decided by so many less-informed people. I don't mean to imply that all young people or all liberal Democrats are uninformed. Some of my dear friends are very intelligent liberals who I believe are simply wrong in their views. But the tenor on twitter isn't helping those who don't care to delve deeper.
After CNN called the election for Barack Obama, I told my husband my days as a political activist were over. I know many conservatives immediately unfriended their liberal friends on facebook.
Even though our initial reflex may be to retreat from liberal Democrats, exactly the opposite is what we must do. The election results indicated a D+6 majority in the United States. This is a new trend from 2008, and it has not diminished. In order to change it, we will need to run toward liberal Democrats, meet them on their turf... on the right battlefield.
According to TechCrunch, twitter passed 500 MILLION users in June 2012, 140 MILLION of which are in the United States. We cannot afford not to be part of this conversation.
It is a daunting task ahead of us, and it requires us to dig deeper, not remain complacently in our conservative echo chambers. Twitchy.com, while fun, is not going to cut it. There's a place for political comedy, for snark. But there is a desperate need for truth offered up with pure intent.
Tips for tweeting effectively about politics:
- include links to longer articles
- use popular hash tags, which put things into categories for easy searching (#hurricanesandy)
- include pictures, memes with quotes (but avoid the snark as much as possible)
- shorten quotes by wise conservatives (Wrenn's Reagan quotes are a great start, as are Milton Friedman quotes)
- if you have more to say than fits in one tweet, use (1/3) and (2/3) to indicate the order for readers
- follow and retweet interesting twitter users
- engage in discussions by replying to tweets, but keep it respectful
When twitter overloads from all the activity, you get a screen that looks like this:
Affectionately termed the FailWhale, this is the perfect illustration of our daunting task as conservatives in social media. The whale represents the masses of people thirsting for knowledge during this drought of truth we're currently experiencing as a society. The birds? Well, that's you and me... if we're up to the challenge.