Do you ever find yourself on the verge of a back and forth public comment exchange, and then decide to just drop it? Well I did that yesterday. Except now I can’t drop it.
I am amazed by the animosity people who claim to love West Virginia can muster for anyone who sees the world differently than they do. There is a vibrant young woman who had her first op-ed in The Charleston Gazette Monday, and her topic was social media in politics. Now here comes a fresh voice — a bit of an attitude, I’ll warrant, but that’s part of the freshness — and what kind of response does she get? A very snarky put-down and dismissal as having nothing to offer.
Now, you can like it or not like it, but you have to be in some deep denial if you don’t understand that the first African-American to be elected leader of the free world did it with the brilliant use of social media. That fact alone should wake you way, way up.
Monday’s commentary, like it or not, has a great deal to offer. It’s not about what you like, or what you wish were true. It’s about what is, and from where the writer sits her job is to connect politicians with what is.
It’s also what was. The writer was not comparing Carte Goodwin to JFK as a change agent. She was saying that they both bask in the glow of a similar perception of savoir faire. Yes, it’s shallow and goofy to think elected officials are “hot.” As a friend of mine put it, “Whoa. That’s a low bar, the U.S. Congress.” I still crack up that JFK was considered yummy. Maybe, maybe, next to a sweating Nixon. But really? Folks need to get out more. The bar goes much lower when you limbo at the state level. But I digress………….(and a little of my breakfast just came up).
The point is that public perception is a valid and important element of elected office, and social media is driving a great deal of public perception. We can argue all day and all night about whether or not that ought to be true, but while we argue there are people who know how to take advantage of solid strategy who are getting elected, and re-elected, via their socially networked connections to a large proportion of their constituencies.
My hat’s off to this young lady. True wisdom is not the hallmark of the young, but it’s not rare to have strong opinions and the courage to try to change the world, and to be crazy enough to think you can do it. West Virginia is chock full of a bunch of old people. How about we get clue and listen to the very few young people we have left who are still willing to participate in making a difference?