Tag archives: Elections

The Influence of Social Media on Politics

by Peyton Holliday

February 22, 2019

For most of us, social media has become a routine part of our day-to-day lives here in America. This reality is now taking hold in politics as well. Scrolling through social media pages such as Twitter and Instagram, I have seen videos of candidates and elected officials dancing in their offices, visiting the dentist, drinking beer, and all manner of day-to-day life being shared with the public. With videos posted by Beto O’Rourke, Elizabeth Warren, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and others, the political spectrum is changing.

I personally don’t want to see a video of a politician going to the dentist—I would rather see a video of them explaining their stance on abortion or border control. I want to know what the candidate stands for on policy instead of how cool of a dance move they can do. We are losing professionalism in the political world. It seems that we are now electing people because they have nice dance moves or seem relatable on an Instagram video. This makes me wonder—how will our future elections be shaped through social media?

In the 1960 election cycle, well before the era of social media, the debates between JFK and Richard Nixon were televised for the first time in American history. The looks, poise, and smooth actions of JFK helped him to win the votes of millions of Americans. The medium of television set a new precedent for an era in which politicians worried about their image as much as their messaging. These televised debates marked the beginning of a new type of political media that would shape the outcome of elections for years to come.

Now, we are in a new era where the political scene is changing again. Americans can now stay up to date on the day-to-day thoughts and actions of political figures through videos, pictures, and posts on social media. The political landscape is becoming more and more based on marketing and image rather than actual policy positions. If you can market yourself better than your opponent, you have a better chance at winning. If your social media page has millions of followers, you can get more attention than appearing on national television. Candidates don’t even have to set up an interview with a television station to get media coverage anymore—if a social media post goes “viral,” it will be all over both television and the internet.

Social media is clearly a useful way to make candidates more visible to the world. Social media is already shaping the outcome of elections. In future elections, social media will undoubtedly begin to play an even bigger role. Similar to what happened in the 1960 election, the actions, online presence, and relatable image of a candidate can hold more sway than their policy positions in the minds of many social media-addicted voters.

Future elections will be shaped by the online presence of the candidates. As for me, I would rather see candidates use social media to present thoughtful positions on policy issues rather than try to be hip.

Peyton Holliday is an intern at Family Research Council.

How Important is Election Day Turnout? Ask Anthony Brown.

by Peter Sprigg

November 11, 2014

On Election Day (or, with early and absentee voting, during election season), not every citizen who is registered to vote will actually vote. There are a variety of reasons. Some have not put in the time and effort to educate themselves about the people and issues on the ballot. Some don’t believe their vote will make a difference. Some may be confident that their favored candidate(s) will win anyway; some may be fatalistic that their favored candidate(s) will lose anyway. Some may have logistical problems getting to the polls; some may simply forget.

Because of all these factors, it is a given for anyone who has ever been involved in a political campaign that “turning out your voters” is a key to victory. Success hinges not just on persuading a majority of your fellow citizens that you are the best candidate; it also hinges on success in motivating those voters to actually vote.

It should be no surprise that the highest voter turnout generally comes in presidential election years. That is when the media coverage of politics is at its most intense. Even people who pay no attention to local or state legislative races, or even races for Congress or Governor, will generally form an opinion on which candidate should be the next President of the United States, and will make an effort to express that view at the ballot box.

That means, however, that in a non-presidential year, like the 2014 mid-term elections, fewer votes will be cast, and therefor “turning out your voters” is even more crucial.

Anthony Brown learned that the hard way.

Brown has served two terms as Lieutenant Governor of Maryland under Gov. Martin O’Malley, the former mayor of Baltimore. O’Malley is leaving office and is considered a dark horse candidate for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination. Brown was his designated successor for the governor’s mansion, easily winning the Democratic nomination.

The election should have been a shoo-in for Brown. Maryland is one of the bluest of deep blue states. President Obama carried the state in 2012 with 61% of the vote.

In one of the biggest (and most under-reported) upsets on election night, however, Brown lost to his Republican opponent, Larry Hogan, 51%-47%.

I was curious as to how big a role turnout played in this surprising outcome, so I went back to look at some vote totals I compiled after the 2012 election. (I had written a blog post then about how even in the four states which did not vote to defend the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, the pro-marriage vote had well exceeded the vote received by Republican nominee Mitt Romney.)

Comparing those votes with this year’s governor’s race confirmed the importance of turnout. Although Hogan won in 2014 with 51% of the vote, and Romney lost Maryland badly in 2012 with only 36% of the vote, the raw number of votes Hogan received in victory was only 91% of the number of votes Romney received in defeat.

What does that say about Brown? He received less than half as many votes as President Obama did in 2012—only 792,000 compared to Obama’s 1.6 million.

A similar trend probably prevailed across the country. Masses of Obama voters just stayed home on Election Day—leading to the Republican wave we saw on Election Night.

Washington Post asks: “What went wrong for President Obama?”

by Robert Morrison

November 4, 2014

We are all waiting for today’s critical election returns and for the post-mortems that will inevitably follow. But our hometown newspaper, the Washington Post, is not waiting for the ballots to be reported tonight (and maybe some to be cast in Louisiana on December 6th with, perhaps, some even to be brought in by dogsled in Alaska!)

No, the Post is doing a pre-mortem. They printed this headline an amazing headline in this morning’s edition. This reliably liberal house organ is jumping the gun with analysis of the President’s failure and the “many crises [in his second term] and less faith in his [Mr. Obama’s] ability to respond.”

Finally, the liberal editors are asking themselves a question I can answer for them.

Here’s what went wrong for President Obama:

  1. He allowed himself to become the willing accomplice of Planned Parenthood. He told Speaker Boehner he would veto any Continuing Resolution of Congress that takes away even one dollar from this evil enterprise that dismembers a thousand unborn American children every day.
  1. His Obamacare legislation will force millions of Americans to pay for the killing of unborn children. This will be the greatest expansion of abortion since the infamous Roe v. Wade ruling.
  1. He has “evolved” into the nation’s most powerful marriagender. Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, a law we could have passed through Congress without a single Republican vote. Just 18 years ago, Democrats joined Republicans in supporting marriage. As recently as 2008, Barack told voters he believed “marriage is between a man and a woman and God is in the mix.” [emphasis added.]

Apparently, if you like your God you can keep Him. But President Obama has moved on on marriage. He has suddenly become aware that the Constitution all along has required every state to recognize counterfeit marriages. For a man who proudly tells us he taught Constitutional Law, this is an amazing, if tardy, discovery.

  1. He presides over the most anti-Christian administration in U.S. history. Never before have so many churches, pastors, priests and Christian citizens found their religious freedom so gravely endangered. Liberal reporters think this is rightwing hysteria and respond: “What about those Bible riots in Philadelphia in the 1840s?” Gotcha, they say. NO. Those Bible riots—deplorable as they were—were never instigated by the President and backed by the full power of the federal government. Today, Catholic bishops, Lutheran church body leaders, Evangelical pastors, Mormon officials, and rabbinical association spokespersons are united as never before in our nation’s history to push back against President Obama’s threats to religious freedom.
  1. His is the first administration in our history openly hostile to Israel. Woodrow Wilson, Democrat, favored the creation of a Jewish State in Palestine. Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt met with the Saudi king in 1945 in an effort to persuade him to accept a Jewish State. Harry Truman boldly recognized Israel 11 minutes after it declared its independence in 1948. But President Obama is pressuring Israel to permit the creation of a PLO Terroristan on the West Bank of the Jordan River. President Obama refuses to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but he went to reunited Berlin to bask in the adulation of German crowds.

For these and a host of other, lesser, reasons, this president has lost what the Chinese call “the Mandate of Heaven.”

Barbara Walters spoke to this world-weary sense that liberals have about the Obama Presidency when she sighed: “We thought he was going to be the Messiah.”

And Newsweek editor Evan Thomas cooed early in this administration that President Obama at Normandy “hovered over the nations like a sort of god.”

Can Mr. Thomas tell us what his god said at Normandy? Can President Obama remember what he said there? In 2009? In 2014?

Our God speaks. And through His Word, we learn of his tender concern for children, even those in the womb. We learn that He created marriage because it is not good for man to be alone. And we learn that when it comes to speaking His Word, we are to obey God and not men.

Our Founding Fathers believed that religious freedom was essential for political liberty. That’s why they guaranteed it in the Constitution they gave us. Socialist governments have always been hostile to three institutions—the family, the church, and free enterprise.

So we should not be surprised that President Obama is having mounting difficulty. It is a sign of a healthy body politic that the immune system is starting to reject his ruling philosophy.

Candidate Obama shocked Clinton Democrats when he said, “Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not. And in a way that Bill Clinton did not.”

Barack Obama was promising liberals he would be their Ronald Reagan. But Reagan quoted the Founding Fathers’ wisdom more than any of his four predecessors and more than any of his four successors.

Perhaps that is why, respecting this country’s foundation and not seeking to “fundamentally transform this nation,” as Mr. Obama has, that Ronald Reagan was a success and this president is not.

Voting from the Bering Sea

by Robert Morrison

November 3, 2014

I’ve never missed voting. I’ve had to fight for it at times, but I have voted in every election since I was old enough. The closest I ever came to not voting was when I was serving in the military.

I was stationed on a Coast Guard Cutter and we were steaming in the Bering Sea. We were patrolling that imaginary line in the sea between the old USSR and the United States. It is the only place on earth where the two nations share a common border. And yes—Gov. Palin was right—you can see Russia from Alaska.

I knew I was going to require an absentee ballot because the Cutter Boutwell* was not scheduled to return from her Alaska Patrol until after Election Day. So I dutifully filled out my request and mailed it in to the King County (Seattle) Election Board.

Well into October I still hadn’t received my absentee ballot. I was the ship’s Communications Officer, so I handled all the incoming mail. Every time we got mail, I was thrilled to get a letter for each day from my fiancée. But no absentee ballot.

I contacted Seattle via teletype: “Where’s my absentee ballot?” I sent several follow-up messages with no response. I was becoming concerned.

One evening, after dinner and a movie, I heard a sharp rap on the door of my stateroom. It was our Executive Officer. He never visited any of us. We were always summoned to his stateroom. This might not be pleasant.

What’s this [same word as a White House official describing an Israeli Prime Minister] about your sending teletype messages back to Seattle?”

Oh, that, ” I said, relieved it was nothing more serious. “Well, Commander,” I responded cheerily, “I have applied for my absentee ballot and have not received it. I need to fill it out and make sure I get it in the outgoing mail so it can arrive at the King County Election Board in time to be counted. We have less than two weeks until Election Day, Sir.”

The XO’s face darkened. He was not soothed by my breezy explanation.

We don’t have time for such things. And I don’t want you sending any more teletype messages to Seattle about voting. Besides, it’s only an off-year election. It’s not that important.”

Sir, respectfully, I have to vote. It’s why we are out here.” He was not happy with my answer and he left the stateroom, slamming the heavy metal door behind him.

Happily, I received my absentee ballot in the next batch of incoming mail. And with it a fistful of letters from my beloved. I quickly filled out the ballot and slipped it—as inconspicuously as I could—in the next day’s outgoing mail.

My Executive Officer was a dedicated career Coast Guardsman with many responsibilities. I didn’t want to make his burden greater. But I was determined to keep my perfect record of never having missed voting.

Every day that autumn, I was part of the boarding inspection team that boarded those Soviet trawlers. Everybody in the old USSR voted, too, and their votes meant nothing. “What counts is not who votes,” said the cynical old Communist dictator of the USSR, Josef Stalin. “What matters is who counts the votes.” That was as true under Stalin as it is under Putin.

It was no exaggeration to say what I said to the XO. We were on patrol checking on fisheries, to be sure, but the reason the U.S. Coast Guard policed those waters at all was so that American freedom would be preserved. And we served on the frontier of freedom.

Pollsters tell us that only 39% of Americans look forward to voting next Tuesday. I am happy a higher percentage—49% of Evangelical Christians—tell pollsters they are very eager to vote next Tuesday. I only winh 100% of us would exercise this precious right. It was indeed bought for us by the blood of patriots, many of them our fellow Christians.

I pray that all of us who have not yet taken part in early voting or sent in our absentee ballots will make it a point to show up at the polls. Some of my friends tell me they’re not enthusiastic about going to the polls. It may be the case that some candidates in some places have not made their best arguments to earn the support of Values Voters.

My answer to these friends is another lesson I learned in the service: Damage Control. We may not be thrilled with where our ship is headed at the moment, but we have a much better chance of a course correction if the ship hasn’t sunk. Next Tuesday, we can all go out and vote for Damage Control.

And then we can all work to steer a better course.

*Recently, the Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell seized some $480 million worth of cocaine. This was the largest seizure in history. And it was achieved by a ship first launched in 1967.

Losers Last Lines

by Robert Morrison

November 7, 2012

One of the things I had to learn some forty years ago was how to concede an election. I was totally unprepared for my loss, so I hadnt given any thought to what I would say. Suffice it to say, I didnt say it well. I soon learned that Americans dont like sore losers. Richard Nixon lost the California governorship in 1962 and told the media to take a hike. You wont have Nixon to kick around any more, he said with no little bitterness. And, as we all know, that was the end of him.

Henry Clay was the high-minded sort. After losing the White House for after his third try, he said: I had rather be right than be president. Voters agreed. They respected Clay and they came to despise the president who beat him.

Abraham Lincoln lost his second bid for the U.S. Senate from his home state of Illinois. His comment was typically touching: I feel like the little boy who stubbed his toe: Im too big to cry, but it hurts too much to laugh. Fellow Illinoisan Adlai Stevenson liked that line so much, he used it when he was defeated for president by Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952. Adlai liked that Lincoln line so much that he got to use it again: When Ike beat more soundly in 1956.

The Great Commoner William Jennings Bryan ran for president three times, 1896, 1900, and 1908. He was the thunderer, the powerful orator who brought down a prairie twister of denunciation on the bankers of Wall Street. Bryan, an Evangelical and teetotaler, got a laugh when he compared himself to the drunk who got tossed from the saloon three times. Im getting the impression they dont want me in there.

In 1916, the election looked over in the East as the candidates and most other Americans went to bed. They were confident that the bearded Charles Evans Hughes had defeated President Woodrow Wilson. But late returns from California painted a different picture. One enterprising reporter telephoned the Hughes residence in New York and asked to speak to the candidate. Somewhat huffily, Hughes son replied that the President was sleeping and was not to be disturbed. Thats okay, dont wake him, said the scribbler, but when he gets up, tell him he aint president.

Ronald Reagan rarely had to concede a defeat. In 1976, he lost, narrowly, to Gerald Ford for the Republican presidential nomination. On the last night of his partys convention in Kansas City, Jerry Ford gave the best speech of his life. I was so impressed, I even considered voting for him. After that splendid performance, President Ford motioned to his defeated rival. Gov. Reagan, tanned and wearing a light colored sport coat, aw shucksed the victor and mouthed the words: No, No, Jerry, this is your night.

The president was not to be put off. He virtually ordered Reagan to come to the speakers podium. Alright, Reagan said, ambling down to the stage. Then he delivered a stirring address that left the convention delegates and millions of Americans deeply moved. On their way to the Kansas City airport, the homebound Republican delegates had to follow a single route. One enterprising conservative put up a billboard: Republicans: You nominated the wrong man! Four years later, many of those same Ford delegates corrected their error.

My favorite concession speech was from Gov. Thomas Dewey in 1948. He was stunned, the world was stunned, when President Harry Truman defeated him. Every poll showed Dewey winning over the embattled incumbent. The Chicago Tribune even went to press early with a stunning headline: Dewey Defeats Truman. Well, he didnt. (Thats not the last time the media hosed things up.)

Dewey recovered from his shock quickly however. The very dapper, dignified New Yorker described his reaction: I feel like a man who wakes up in his own casket. If Im alive, what am I doing here? If Im dead, why do I have to go to the bathroom?

But the best line of that surprising night goes to Mrs. Dewey. The governor was so confident of victory, he had bought his wife a fetching nightgown because, he said, beaming, tonight youll be sleeping with the President of the United States.

Mrs. Dewey asked her hubby: Well, Tom, is Harry coming over here or do I run over to the White House?

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