Does Social Media Have A Role To Play In Politics?
Buck McKeon may not understand social media, but he knows how to monetize drones & killer robots
Lucky for Blue America Jacquie keeps up our Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr accounts. Otherwise we wouldn't have any. Or I'd have to learn new tricks. Woof! Yesterday I got an e-mail from one of the Blue America candidates who's typically plugged in to how to utilize social media for campaigning.
The primary election is only two weeks away, and it has certainly been an interesting campaign.
So far we have had three candidate debates to discuss our vision for the district, Southern California, and the United States. The incumbent, however, has refused to show up to any of them.
Even when I offered to work around his schedule to find a time to participate in a debate, Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon has actively ignored our calls.
For me, these debates are job interviews. For him, they are performance reviews. Our elected officials need to be kept accountable.
That’s why we have launched a new Facebook timeline: Buck’s Bad Record. It highlights the questionable ethics and extreme positions that McKeon has taken during his 20 years in Congress.
I’m inviting you to “like” this Facebook page and share it with your friends in District 25 to help us keep Congressman McKeon accountable to the people. If you believe it’s time for a change of leadership, be sure to like my Facebook page as well and follow me on Twitter.
None of that would have meant much to FDR, LBJ or Ronald Reagan. But I think any of them looking at the way political campaigning has been evolving would have recognized that it was a far more effective communication than the press release sent out at the same time by McKeon's strongest challenger among Republicans in the June 5th jungle primary. Dante Acosta makes some good points and the substance is all there. But the whole mode is outdated... like McKeon's own efforts.
Republican Challenger to 25th District Congressman, Howard “Buck” McKeon Reacts to McKeon’s Statements on Raising Taxes to Pay for Pentagon Spending
The campaign to elect Dante Acosta for Congress takes note of comments made by current 25th District Congressman Buck McKeon insinuating that he’d raise taxes on hard working Americans before ever considering cutting funding to the Pentagon.
“Congressman McKeon’s continued push to preserve the bloated cost of the Pentagon comes at the expense of hard-working Americans who cannot find jobs or are under-employed,” said 25th Congressional Candidate Dante Acosta. The Republican candidate who is challenging Congressman McKeon went on to say, “While the middle class is asking for fiscal vigilance, lower taxes and less regulations on families and small businesses, Congressman McKeon is talking about more unaccountable spending.” Mr. Acosta went on to point out that U.S. military leadership, Congress and the President have not proposed a unified plan or defined goal for the continuing war in Afghanistan yet continue to demand ever larger sums of money for this war.
Dante Acosta is challenging fellow Republican incumbent Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon for his seat in Congress because he feels that Mr. McKeon has lost touch with his constituency as evidenced by his slow reaction to an Afghanistan force-protection debacle that cost Mr. Acosta the life of his son, Specialist Rudy A. Acosta in March, 2011. McKeon is also under heavy criticism in the district for a lack of leadership on a major quality of life issue affecting the Santa Clarita and Antelope Valley communities that make up a majority of the district. “Congressman McKeon used to serve the district but now he serves the Republican caucus, multi-national corporations like Cemex and the military hardware industry.” Acosta is referring to the Mexican concrete mining firm Cemex which was granted mining rights by the Bureau of Land Management long before Santa Clarita became a growing city of over 167,000 residents. The project, which the city has been fighting in court for decades, will greatly compromise air quality, increase truck traffic on the rural 2-lane road on which the mine is located and lower home values on properties in the epicenter of what could become the largest concrete mining operation in American history.
“When you take Mr. McKeon’s exhortation that struggling American taxpayers must shoulder additional taxes without any sacrifice to the Pentagon’s budget along with his inattention to the Cemex Mine issue and a growing detachment from district voters, the message becomes clear, it’s time to send the 20+ year Congressman into retirement so that a new generation of Conservative leadership can arise and serve the constituents of the 25Th Congressional District”, Mr. Acosta added.
Who, beyond a political junkie, is going to even try to get beyond that title? Autumn Caviness at the Texas Tribune explains how-- and why-- a "Like" is the new yard sign for young voters-- and even less young voters who are evolving with the times.
A 2009 Pew Research Center study indicates that 10 percent of internet users ages 18 and older have used a social networking site for some sort of political or civic engagement. With just younger voters, 18 to 29, that number jumps to 37 percent.
That's not exactly a tidal wave of civic engagement. But Thor Lund, the University of Texas at Austin's student body president, says that for college students, it feels like marching in the streets.
“Social media is a huge tool to get people interested in things, and honestly, the biggest way to create interest-- to spur the civic engagement-- is numbers, people being involved,” Lund said. “So whether or not someone thinks it’s a civic engagement issue that they’re starting out and that they’re trying to do, when people get behind an idea, the power of people is amazing.”
And when you've got a full semester and an evening job, being able to click "like" before studying can make you feel engaged without taking up too much time.
“When we’re tabling and fliering, we let folks know, hey, like us on Facebook, even if you can’t come at every meeting, even if you can’t be there physically, at least be aware of what we’re doing,” said Huey Fischer, president of the University Democrats at UT. “So that way, when you do have time, when you can make a commitment, you’ll know what’s up.”
Morley Winograd, co-author of Millennial Momentum: How a New Generation Is Remaking America, views hitting the "like" button as comparable to putting up a traditional political yard sign. So when friends visit your Facebook page, as when dropping by your house, they'll see who and what you support.
Winograd says making these initial statements of support online can then lead to a stronger outward showing of support.
“Certainly there is that level of engagement at that point, but I think real engagement involves translating that online enthusiasm into offline activity," he said.
Does it mean that stodgy old curmudgeons like-- to just take two examples, one from each party-- Buck McKeon (R-CA) and Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) will fall to edgy, young political leaders? Stranger things have happened and 2012 is not exactly shaping up as the Congressional Year of The Incumbent. It might be worth noting that almost all of the incumbents defeated so far this year have been older and less technologically savvy than their opponents:
Mean Jean Schmidt (60) was beaten by Brad Wenstrup (54)
Tim Holden (55) was beaten by Matt Cartwright (50)
Richard Lugar (80) was beaten by Richard Mourdock (60)
Don Manzullo (68) was beaten by Adam Kinzinger (34)
Special case: Dennis Kucinich (65) was beaten by Marcy Kaptur (65)
And speaking of Reyes, the El Paso Times has always endorsed him in the past... but not this time. And, largely because of younger, more connected voters, O'Rourke is beating Silvestre in early voting 52-45%.
El Paso has struggled with ineffective, bickering leadership over the years. But that has changed in recent years with the emergence of young, dedicated public servants on County Commissioners Court, City Council and our state legislative delegation.
Sending Beto O'Rourke to Congress is an important next step in choosing leadership that positions El Paso to be a leading international city in the 21st century.
Recommending a change in El Paso's member of the House of Representatives isn't something we do lightly. It is an institution where seniority matters. The 16th Congressional District has had only three representatives in the past 48 years. And the Times editorial board, along with our Community Advisory Board, was split on our endorsement choice.
But it's time for a change. And O'Rourke brings the background and passion that El Paso needs.
...El Paso is at a crossroads. The improved performance in recent years of Commissioners Court and City Council show that passionate, dedicated young leadership can reshape a community and help move it in the right direction.
O'Rourke has been an important part of that change. He can continue that work if we elect him to the House of Representatives. He is the right choice in the Democratic primary, and will be the right choice for the community in November.
That's bad news for Reyes, just as the Campaign for Primary Accountability [CPA] has started firing on all engines in the district. They go after incumbents, of both parties, who have, like Reyes, a record of corruption. And they have the financial resources to make a difference. Their efforts are hurting Reyes badly right now. They've spent close to $200,000 on the race so far. Earlier this month $95,000 went into ads about Reyes’ record of taking money from Washington lobbyists for himself and his family. Reyes went whining to the media and CPA doubled their efforts against him. Their statement responding to Reyes' lame excuses:
Let’s be clear: The more Silvestre Reyes distorts his record, the more the Campaign for Primary Accountability will spend to make sure voters know the truth before the primary on May 29th.
If Reyes wants to complain about money being spent in this election, he should talk to his hand – the hand that takes millions from fat cat Washington lobbyists and stuffs it in his pocket.
If he wants CPA to stop running ads, he can stop with the lame excuses. As long as he continues distorting his record, we will continue spending to educate voters.