Social Networking Key to Brown’s Success
The inside story of how tea party twitterers, Facebook friends, and Blogspot buddies helped win the race for Scott Brown.
January 20, 2010 - 11:49 am
The big story of the Massachusetts special election was so small it flew in under the radar of the old boy networks and their allies in the legacy media.
As Glenn Reynolds wrote way back in 1999 — prefiguring locally what is happening now on a national scale — “The powers-that-be aren’t anymore.” When Tennessee poobahs tried to ram through higher taxes that year, opponents “simply bypassed the traditional gatekeepers in the media and took their case directly to the people. The people responded.”
That’s what happened in Massachusetts yesterday. Republican Scott Brown and his “Army of Davids” bypassed the gatekeepers who would have us believing the Democrat establishment’s hand-picked candidate, Martha Coakley, was a shoo-in. The citizens were mad as hell and weren’t going to take it anymore. And thanks to the viral nature of social networks like blogs, Facebook, and Twitter, they started to find and encourage each other to create an “intelligent crowd” that took its first baby steps in the tea parties and town halls of last year. They then found their voices in embracing Scott Brown’s long-shot candidacy during the whirlwind six weeks between his primary win on December 8 and the January 19 special election.
As Jonathan Hoenig wrote about the tea partiers when we were just getting started last April, “They’re angry about the taxes, yes, but they’re really angry about the philosophy behind the taxes, and that’s collectivism.” This is a point consistently lost upon Northeast Corridor elites from both sides of the aisle, who fiddled while Rome burned, amusing each other by dissing us as lunatic-fringe “teabaggers.”
Blogging was my own gateway to the tea party movement. A former armchair activist, I ventured into the blogosphere first as a visitor just before 9/11 and then as an active participant a couple of years later. Here was a way to say what was on your mind and reach like-minded — and sometimes dislike-minded — souls out there in cyberspace. Links from other blogs, large and small, extended your audience, and some of the people you met through blogging would become good friends.
Then came the 2008 presidential election, and things turned serious. You watched in horror as the Obama juggernaut mobilized to ram a collectivist nightmare down the American people’s throat. By then, you’d become an obsessive twitterer with over 1,000 followers, a purveyor of what Jordan Raynor calls “crowd-sourced journalism.”