Attention GOP: New Media Is Here to Stay

Recently, Pajamas Media writer Andrew Ian Dodge counseled politicians against using social media. He concluded:

One wonders if those so keen on new media will pay attention to those in the know and take care when dealing with this sort of technology. There are those who are monitoring everything that happens on the right online, ready and waiting for this sort of scandal to erupt.  And when it does, expect it to become big news. The "old media" absolutely loathes new media. They are very keen to expose "the dangers" of the online world as often as possible. If they can take down a few leading right-wing politicians in the deal as well, so much the better.

This advice is akin to telling politicians during Benjamin Franklin's time to avoid public speaking (printing press, horrors!), during Alexander Graham Bell's time to avoid the phone, or during Hoover's time (note to Joe Biden) to avoid television. New media, whatever it is, avoidance isn't the key. People who avoid it are bound to be left behind.

Each era has its new form of communication, but the advice to communicators -- including politicians -- remains the same throughout the ages: speak respectably, look respectable, but most of all, <em>be</em> respectable. While it's true that Republicans will be watched for impropriety more than Democrats because Democrats are not assumed to have propriety and rarely claim to have it (Nancy Pelosi's decree of a  "new ethical era" notwithstanding), it is also true that ignoring social media or tip-toeing through it will do more damage to Republicans.

Social media platforms like  Facebook and Twitter provide a means to communicate directly to voters bypassing a self-admittedly biased media. If a politician were told there is a way to reach thousands of people with an unadulterated message in a person's home without the need to knock on a door or stand before TV cameras, he would eagerly ask how to do it. That's social media.

Social media platforms provide immediate feedback. If a politician were told that he could have dozens, if not hundreds of issues-savvy voters and political junkies share in "round-table" discussions and for free, he'd ask "where do I sign up?"