1. “New communication skills and technologies enable energized minorities to force new topics onto the political agenda.”
It used to be that activists had to rely on phone chains and mailing lists — snail mail — to get word out about their causes. It took a dreadfully long time to organize a resistance of any consequence, and there was often little hope of rousing entrenched politicians who answered mainly to lobbyists and big donors.
But now, with social media, camera-equipped cell phones, talk radio and the 24-hour news cycle, virtually everyone can be an instant political activist. As a result, powerful news organizations and politicians no longer have complete control over the “narratives.” Activists now have effective and efficient (and often free) tools at their disposal to help level the playing field.
Soccer moms with cell phones can assemble a hundred parents at the statehouse with a handful of tweets or shut down the phone systems for a week with a single Facebook post that instantly reaches thousands of activists. Legislators can only ignore such efforts for so long because, as the great philosopher of our age Kelly Clarkson said, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Ignoring highly dedicated activists merely forces them to redouble their efforts and find new pathways to success.