As I write this, my Android handset is flashing with Twitter updates. I have been engaging in a virtual “war” with a fellow user, who has accused me of being a conservative who wants to murder President Obama and his family ( his exact words). I have several tabs open in my internet browser: Facebook, Drudge Report, Google +. Each page is focused on something I care most about at this point in American political discourse: the economy, the GOP presidential debate, the constant barrage of ludicrous left-wing assumptions that the Tea Party is racist. Again, my phone alerts me that a new blog post has appeared on this very site, and I proceeded to read it. In fact, every little bit of my involvement in conservative politics was birthed from my deep connection to social media, and while I reside here in Dallas, it allows me to keep tabs on the Left, Washington politics, and the various conflicts worldwide.
But this article is not about me. It is about how social media seeks to engage those who have a desire to understand every shift in American politics, but don’t have the luxury of living in the political hotbed of Washington D.C. It does exactly that, but furthermore, it has altered our very perception of the political parties, world leaders, economic, foreign, and social policy, science, and history itself. Our means of communicating ideas has changed dramatically, allowing us to post 140 character statements of the things that matter to us, or create groups on Facebook to promote our beliefs and concerns, or even write lengthy essays on popular websites that push forth certain ideologies. Some would say that this doesn’t affect politics in any significant way, but when simple things, such as a video, have the ability to end corruption at the deepest levels, none can deny just how effective social media has become.
But as we accept just how invaluable social media is to our political discussion, we also must accept just how damaging it can be. While both the Left and the Right have turned to Twitter and Facebook to combat each other, the Left has used these tools more for accusing the Right of immense racism, homophobia, sexism, elitism, and terrorism, and less for espousing rationality and reason. Some even advocated lying for the purposes of winning political debate at one point or another. It isn’t hard to see just how erratic some liberals behave through social networking sites.
Even with the addition of Twitter and Facebook to the equation, blogging is the defined medium for expressing political views. Blogs are where the most impassioned debates on current events take place. Most blogs, such as the ones controlled by new media leaders like Michelle Malkin, Glenn Reynolds, Matt Drudge ( and of course this very site ran by our own Andrew Breitbart), have succeeded in presenting a new type of conservative thought, with a fair perspective on our ever shifting political scene. They hold no punches, and at times, are critical of people within our own movement. If only such civility were commonplace throughout the entirety of the blogosphere. Big name liberal sites like Huffington Post, Daily Kos, and Talking Points Memo have used soaring rhetoric and violent language when talking about the things that conservatives care most about, and when discussing conservatives themselves.
So does the social media movement hurt or help politics? I would say a little of both. It has made it easier for cowards to hide behind their keyboards and attack decent hardworking people for standing for traditional values, limited government, and personal responsibility. It has spawned numerous ‘hate pages’ targeting people perceived as the most ‘radical’ of the conservative movement ( case in point, this ridiculous array of slurred speech know as Stop Beck), and it allows the Left to use the internet to spread some of the most disgusting lies about the Right. At the hands of liberals, social media is a tool only to be used as a means to destroy the credibility of those who disagree with them.
But through our social connections, we gain the ability to organize and connect with like-minded conservatives who have a desire to take their political activism to the next level. It gave the Tea Party a way to engage hundreds of thousands of people in serious debate over the direction of our country. Even the Pentagon sees how significant it can actually be. It has become one of the most important aspects of our daily lives, and will only continue to influence us in ways we could never have imagined.
So for those who choose to live a life devoid of these exciting tools, it is to you I say this: while I might support your right to attempt to spread your message without social media, the most relevant voices are fast becoming the ones that open up their computers, and log on.