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Social Media Politics

In: English and Literature

Submitted By NoahAndrew
Words 1023
Pages 5
Noah Chadwick
Lecture 5 Reading Responses
Vincent Raynauld
Social Media and Politics
Long ago in the history books of America and around the world politics occurred in open spaces and in crowded rooms. Grass roots organization actually occurred on grass. In the new millennium the political landscape is rapidly changing and people don’t know what to consider a fickle trend or an actual anthropological shift in the way in which politics operates today. What is becoming clear is that the Internet, or more specifically social media, is now a mean in which politicians can communicate with their electorate. At the same time it is a means in which electorates can engage with politicians. The political landscape is now scattered and fractured; and it is becoming difficult to discern what is politics and what is white noise.
The article Party Change, Social Media, and the Rise of “Citizen-Initiated”
Campaigning Rachel Gibson dissects the recent trends in the way that the internet and social media have changed the populist political landscape. What she focuses most on is Citizen
Initiated Campaigning or CIC. This is grass roots campaigning that occurs in the digital sphere but eventually blends into actual organizations and voter turn outs for specific events and elections. Through her article Gibson examines how citizens engage with politicians they are passionate about and how they use social media to relay that politicians message to people they know through the internet. Through this form of CIC Gibson notices a dichotomy in this digital realm of of politics “On the one hand, the Internet is seen as reconnecting parties with their civic roots by providing the basis for a more democratic mode of organization…The incentive for adopting a new model of web campaigning that generates additional ‘free’ pool of labour to carry out core tasks during an election is therefore expected to be high”(1). There is a sense of grass roots populism in what citizens are doing for campaigns but also an incentive from politicians to see this new realm of digital campaigning as a cost effective way to spread their message while running for office.
Another important topic that Gibson writes about in her article is the rise of Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 politics. Web 1.0 politics came to prominence in the 1990’s with the rise of the internet, and was basically just webpages and email blasts from certain politicians sent to their constituents and possible, on the fence voters. However, the rise of Web 2.0 campaigning came along with the advent of social media and how the internet became a much more ubiquitous part of the everyday life post new millenium. Gibson mentions the campaign of Howard Dean and how we was the first politician to use the internet as a way to mobilize voters and gain campaign contributions through his website. His campaign became the influence for Barack
Obama’s historic campaign that basically changed the ways the politics is viewed by his use of the internet the rally voters. Back in 2008 no one believed a black man with Kenyan ancestry with the middle name Hussein could be president. However the Obama campaign mostly succeeded from young voters that were initiating citizens initiated campaigns. Gibson specifically refers to the MyBo website created by Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes. The website was not just a politicians plank to spout his ideas, it was reciprocal interface that fostered CIC and became probably the biggest influence into the success of the Barack Obama campaign. I found Gibson’s research interesting especially when she researched in 2010 if citizen initiated campaigns had influenced the political spheres of other nations, specifically the United
Kingdom. She found that yes politicians are beginning to notice that the internet and social media are platforms for engaging with voters, but they have been slow to warm to the changing landscape. No politicians seized the opportunity like the Barack Obama campaign in 2008. It was also interesting that she found that the labor party in the UK was the most prominent on social media because of a lack of resources to high campaign contributions from large corporations. On the opposite end of that, she found that the conservative party was the least active in CIC campaigning, because they were obviously by nature slow to change and already had access to larger resources to grow their campaign.
The following articles Towards Hyper Media Campaigning? Perceptions of New Media
Campaigning by Party Strategists in Comparative Perspective” by Darren G. Lilliker and the article Online Social Networks and Micro Blogging in Political Campaigning: The Exploration of a New Campaign Tool and a New Campaign Style by Maurice Vergeer mostly focus on very specific statistics of Web 2.0 campaigning and which parties are using specific modes of internet communication and social media. The main consensus of both articles was a predictable result that more liberal and grass roots based campaigns are more apt to use social media as a form of relaying information to constituents and creating citizen initiated campaigning while more conservative parties were less open to using social media and more focused on using the webpages and emails to send out information but were not open to reciprocal constituent to politician relations.
As Social Media becomes something that envelops everyday life the Barack Obama/
Howard Dean style of grass roots campaigning will soon become inevitable for almost any politician considering a serious candidacy for office, not only in America but throughout the western world. Even consider the fact in the most recent CNN Republican Debate where it was reported that during the debate Jebb Bush reportedly joined the social media platform Vine.
Some staffer in his multi million dollar campaign was watching his debate and realized this to be an effective way to boost his chance in office. This rise of Web 2.0 campaigning is making politics much more confusing, muddled, and chaotic than it has already been, but it is also making it much more exciting and opening the doors for others who may not have had the possibility to disseminate their views and their voice.

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