Political social media did not exist a decade ago. Now tens of millions of dollars are spent every election on social media campaigns. Initially politicians only believed social media would be used as an effective campaigning tool. It is clear now though that political discussions on social media outlets can be the origins of larger mainstream ideas. This is political social media’s more noble role.
In 1992 Bo Gritz was the Presidential candidate for the Populist Party. One of his ideas was to pay off the national debt by telling the Treasury to mint a coin that would cover it. Gritz got very little attention in the election and only received .14 % of the popular vote. However, back in January when the national debt was on everyone’s minds some bloggers started talking about Gritz’s idea again. The online discussion kept being picked up by more and more prominent figures who legitimized the idea. It was eventually picked up by Bloomberg Business week and entered the main media stage.
It seems like a crazy idea, but several substantial figures backed it up including an economics columnist at The Economist, a professor at Yale Law School, and a Nobel Prize winning columnist for The New York Times. This all stemmed from a comment a Georgia lawyer who uses the name “Beowulf” left on a random economics blog. Political social media isn’t just about campaigns. It’s about a commonplace to create and flesh out ideas. A place where everyone has an equal voice. What is more American than that?!