Clarity Blog

Clarity Blog

Did Social Media Influence the State of the Union?

Can sSOTUocial media impact government policy decisions?  Even at the White House level?  A group of U.S. veterans thinks so.  Led with the help of lefty group Brave New Foundation, the Rethink Afghanistan campaign aimed to coerce, err…persuade, President Obama into providing an exit strategy for our troops in Afghanistan during Wednesday night’s State of the Union Address.  And how did they plan to wield such influence?   By bombarding the White House Facebook page with hundreds of posts demanding such language in the speech.

Here’s the message provided to these foot soldiers through Rethink Afghanistan’s handy Web site form, which appeared in droves on the WH page:

“President Obama, I am one of more than 20,000 signers of this petition from Rethink Afghanistan: ‘In your State of the Union address on January 27, 2010, I want you to provide a concrete exit strategy for our troops in Afghanistan that begins no later than July 2011 and which completes a withdrawal of combat troops no later than July 1, 2012.’ Petition:

So did he do it? Did he bow to the pressures of the social mediasphere? Tough to say.  Yes, Obama did mention getting our troops out of Afghanistan by July 2011, but that has been his position for some time, and he would be remiss to not address the status of this war in a speech intended to provide an update on the state of our nation’s affairs.

The bigger question is whether or not social media has a place in influencing our elected officials, and the answer is a resounding “YES.”  A recent informal LP&A survey showed approximately 80 percent of Orange County’s county and statewide elected officials participate in some form of social media, and that number is surely on the rise, even at the city and federal levels.

For better or worse, social media is the new town square, except now it’s even easier for supporters and opponents to be heard.  Just like the email campaigns that worked so successfully in the aught years, and the oh-so-low-tech fax-bomb campaigns that preceded them, social media activism is simply the next step in the public’s evolving desire to take part in the process.  Those who take note seek to reap the greatest reward.

That said, check us out on Facebook and on Twitter, @LPAWater, @LPALand and @LPAGov.

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