Social Media and Power Politics

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(The Medium Is The Message or How Obama Taught Trump To Tweet)

Social Media:

I f politics are about controlling the “social” aspects of people’s means and methods of achieving and maintaining a livelihood, then from their inception, “social media” are inherently “political.” Social media are overturning the “old” political media formats — buttons, posters, pamphlets, newsletters, newspapers, books, magazines, news reels, movies, radio, phone banks, direct mail, and even television itself — as the new (or at least latest) means by which the political is now effectuated….empowered. These traditional methods, though now seen as crude, even primitive, still operate, of course, but their roles are inexorably diminishing, giving over more and more political space to the new dispensation being ushered in by all social media.


There are as many and varied definitions, “schools of thought,” and descriptions of the “political” as there are political thinkers and philosophers. Marx (yes, that Marx) reduced both “politics” and the “social” to reflections or representations of the economic interests of the wielders of “power.”

Obama’s Paradigm Shift:

Did you feel it? President Obama’s 2008 campaign shifted the entire political landscape by setting a different, new and higher standard for the entire process of reaching potential voters — a standard which must at least be met by certainly any national (and most state and local) political office seekers. Beginning as early as 2007 and long before the Democratic Party Primary Elections, Obama and his supporters put to work social media and their virtually infinite capacities to create overlapping, vertical and horizontal, saturating “social networks.” Team Obama created an at first under-the-radar “movement” which exponentially ramped up fledgling supportive local organizations, raised prodigious sums of money, provided rapid and pointed responses to “Swift Boat” tactics, and registered millions of new voters.

That Was Then….This Is Now:

After Obama’s history-making election, new websites harvesting the golden databases created during his campaign sprang up like mushrooms after a spring rain. As a result, a new and far-reaching ability to connect directly with the “masses” has obtained. Politicians may now bypass entirely special interest groups, lobbyists, the traditional news outlets and networks and take their case directly to anybody with Internet access. Now it is this online access that drives offline behavior. Folks are motivated and can motivate others to join the cause, to give the money, to forward the message with just a few taps on a keyboard, a couple of clicks with a “mouse,” or single-finger swipes across a cellphone screen.

Donald Trump, Commander-In-Tweet:

Although he will never admit it, Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and his relentless use of “the twitter machine,” followed the social media template constructed and executed to near perfection by ex-President Barack Obama in both his successful campaigns for that high office.

Freelancer since the earth first began cooling. My beat, justice: racial, social, political, economic and cultural. I’m on FB, Twitter, Link,

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