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Archive for December, 2009

Governing in the “Social Age”

December 17th, 2009

When I turned on the news this morning,  there was a lot of buzz about a new poll regarding President Obama’s job approval rating.

NBC/WSJ Poll

If you were to take this at face value, you would assume that Obama has been steadily failing and ready to have more people disapprove than approve of him.  The problem with polling is that when you go through the questions they asked (http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/MSNBC/Sections/NEWS/A_Politics/___Politics_Today_Stories_Teases/091215_NBC_WSJ_Poll.pdf), you’ll find they ask direct questions regarding if one approves of some type of healthcare reform, yet they do not ask if the respondent if they “know the details on what is being debated.”  In addition, there was not one question in their polling regarding how respondents regard Healthcare Insurance companies.

These are important questions because quite frankly, “ordinary citizens” do not understand anything in the bills being discussed.  They get their viewpoint from the news (on this poll 27% said they get their news from Fox), or from the “chilling, ominous commercials” touting “massive tax increases” and essentially a guarantee you will lose your job if healthcare reform passes.

This brings us to social media.  I think we have quickly gone from one revolution to another.  Our last revolution was the Technological Revolution (TR) with the advent of the PC & Internet.  I think we have moved into the “Social Revolution (SR).”

Information now quickly changes hands faster than it did before.  In the (TR), you might get a chain letter about something of interest, or a blog post might gain notoriety and referenced in mainstream media.  Now, the tools for immediate dissemination of information (valid or not) is in the hands of anyone possessing a phone, computer, or their library card to access a computer.  Twitter & Facebook has, in the spirit of Thomas Friedman, flattened the information landscape and balled it up.  Hashtags, Lists, Trending Topics, followers and synergies between all these services allow for someone to say something and it potentially reaches millions of people in an instant.  Gutenberg isn’t turning in his grave, but definitely has a large petrified phallus.

In fact, when I post this entry, it will be simultaneously posted on my Twitter account available to my followers (hopefully) retweeted to their followers (and on and on).  It will also be posted to my Facebook account.  If that were not enough, this article can be shared by clicking on one of the handy sharing links at the bottom of the article.

The bottom line is that this new (SR) has created the conditions where politicians need to ignore polls and ignore the chatter.  They need to act on conscience, reason, intelligence and with purpose.  If you were to poll these same Americans about how macroeconomics works, Fiscal vs Monetary policy, etc I am sure you would get a lot of blank answers.  Do most Americans think the US economy handles like a Porsche around a U-Turn?  This country was on the brink of a second great depression.  It has been pulled back from that and most indicators point toward future growth.  It has been just under a year.  But I forget.  Most Americans want what they want now! (I mean they want it yesterday).

Americans elect representatives to understand this stuff and make the decisions for them.  We do not have a true democracy.  We have a “Representative Democracy.”  Members of the Senate and House, it is high time you start acting that way and stop it with the nonsense of “more and more Americans do not want a public option.”  Quite frankly, most Americans don’t know who they want to vote for on “Dancing with the Stars” let alone whether President Obama is doing enough for the economy.

(Side Note: If you check out the pdf for the poll questions, pay attention on the leading question on the “Tea Party Movement.”)