In the aftermath of the Presidential Election emotions were running high on social media. Facebook was a swamp of elation and depression, ranging from a celebratory mocking of the Real Mitt Romney to posts literally calling Wednesday, November 5, 2012, “the most tragic day in American history” (anonymous, clueless, Facebook user).
I ignored most of the stream. In fact due to my low tolerance for garbage and high privacy settings, I didn’t have to wade through too much of the off the cuff, recycled political posts and their ensuing arguments. But when considering this assignment, I decided to take a look and after a twenty-minute search, I landed upon the wall of an ex-classmate of mine.
Now this guy is pretty renown for being an outspoken liberal, eloquent at debating ideas and solidifying idealism. While I generally fall onto a similar side of the spectrum, I tend to try to focus more on the heart of the issues themselves instead of the partisan struggle for the rights to control the solution (and taxes, and spending, and lobbyists and special interests…I’m getting ahead of myself).
Regardless, what surprised me about my friend’s post was that it was less an attack on the Republican party’s motives or ideas, but more of an analysis of just how big of a mess the GOP is. The Slate article, written by Jacob Weisberg, suggests that Romney would and should of won this election were it not for the Republican’s party ever growing extremism.
In a time of Fiscal crisis it is not unusual for the incumbent President to be thrown out of office. Weisberg’s column made the point that now if ever was a time for Republicans to seize back control of the White House. They certainly tried (see Karl Rove’s flushing of $300 million dollars of Corporate Super PAC donation down the toilet). But it became apparent that no matter how much money they spent the Republican party was setting up Mitt Romney for failure.
Weiberg suggests in the article that it was Romney’s inconsistent character and opinions that lost him the election. But he also points that these indecisive and often extreme presentations were a necessary aspect of his campaign. Because the Republican party has drifted so far away for moderate social perspectives, Romney had to paint himself as a “right wing extremist” to even secure the primary. He selected Paul Ryan as Vice President because of his popularity with the Tea Party, in the hopes to lock down his base. The irony is that when the election came around and he tried to make a hard left turn to appeal the independent and unsatisfied liberal voters, he appeared inauthentic and untrustworthy.
This catastrophic mishandling of appearance ties exactly into what we have been learning in Social Media Networking. Authenticity, which is vital in determining popularity and connectability on online networks, is even more important in a political perspective. Although voters may not be pleased with Obama’s first term, they at least have a model of consistency to base their expectations for the next four years. Romney presents a far more dangerous unknown, one that is undermined by the extremism of the Tea Party and other right wing figureheads that want to “end the separation of Church and State”, “prohibit abortion”, and “disbelieve climate change” to name a few.
It seems that like with most things, the answer to Republican party’s woes and perhaps the countries struggles is Moderation, a middle ground. I thought this was an extremely thoughtful post that did not get as much attention as it should in the social media sphere, possibly because it was not obnoxiously loud about its opinions.
Perhaps we should all strive to listen more carefully, think more openly, and strive towards middle ground solutions.