The question of whether or not social media has become the most dominate communication vehicle in a generation, at this point, most would agree has already been answered with a resounding "yes!" The more appropriate question, as it relates to the context of social media and the political process in this country, perhaps should be: are we as American citizens missing out on a much broader opportunity to communicate directly with our elected officials before, during and after they have been elected into office? It would seem that, at least from both the Obama and Romney camp's perspective, that the dominant social media platforms are to be used exclusively as one-way broadcast channels to shout campaign messages, (i.e Mitt Romney advertising on the "The Rich Kids of Instagram" Tumblr page) with virtually no response to direct questions from the voter.
The perception, however fair or unfair that assessment may be, by a good many folks, is that our government officials, and more specifically our presidential candidates, are simply inaccessible to "Joe Public.' It is because of that perception that many of the American people harbor so much frustration and animosity with the current democratic process that our forefathers fought so valiantly to preserve. The fact is that lobbyists and a handful of the members of the one percent, either under the guise of a corporation or super-PAC, seem to be the only entities that seem to enjoy direct, or at least close proximity in access, to the most powerful decision maker in the country: the President of the United States. This is a troubling reality that could be so easily resolved if the American people would demand that their voices be heard and their questions answered, all by harnessing the power of social media. This indelible right can be viewed in much the same way as the hoards of visitors that come to Washington D.C. every year and feel a sense of ownership, as they should, to see, touch and feel where their tax dollars are being spent. Shouldn't the candidates volunteer to open themselves up, at least within reasonable constructs, to the public they hope to one day serve, or in the incumbent's case continue serving? Shouldn't the voter insist upon engaging in this quality and intensity of dialogue even in the face of both campaign's temporary refusal? These are very important questions to ask in a climate of stubborn voter malaise, partisan vitriol and mistrust in a system that appears more and more duplicitous, as each election cycle passes.
Much could be done to restore the faith to the American people if they felt that they were actually in control of their own choices, and employing this open-discussion platform could be a really effective place to start. Some of the petty bickering about non-issues and distractions that have nothing to do with the very challenging obstacles that so many Americans find themselves facing today, could be averted my removing the middleman of special interests and conversing directly with both political candidates, utilizing social media as the conversation conduit. Simply put, not solely depending upon the liaison of traditional media, and a gaggle of very powerful people, to translate the questions and concerns for the collective of the country, could prove just the medicine the doctor ordered for a country in pain and suffering from stubborn economic anemia and broken government -- a government, that in its current fractured form, is unbending in its commitment in having destructive conversations among themselves, while ignoring the opportunity to engage in a potentially very constructive conversation with the American people.