In love and in politics, it’s long been the practice to tell your “target audience” what they want to hear. And there is an upside: Just before you get screwed, at least someone promises to love you in the morning.
Mitt Romney’s “47 Percent” speech (Do I even need a link here?) handed us something hot and sexy. And today, the orgy continues needing no more help from Mother Jones.
In his unfortunate remarks at a fundraiser full of rich folks, Mitt managed to alienate nearly half the electorate, calling the “47%” who support President Obama lazy no-accounts who feed at the public trough. The secretly recorded comments have even members of Mitt’s own party running for cover. Can you blame them?
While the Romney gaffe has fueled much online indignation, it also carries an important lesson for anyone trying to communicate a message in the era of the social web: Any person or any organization seeking to earn public approval must seek consistency in both action and message.
We could argue that Romney’s comments are entirely consistent with the tone of the GOP platform. But his message is NOT consistent with how a majority of us see the world. Nor is it consistent with how Romney himself shaped policy as governor of Massachusetts.
Consistency? Transparency? Whatever!
We don’t see much consistency or transparency in political campaigns. That’s true on both sides. But we’re learning that no matter how hard you try to cover up the REAL YOU, it comes out on YouTube, Facebook, et. al. And that triggers millions of conversations on the Web.
There are no secrets anymore and nowhere for candidates to hide. Speeches are secretly recorded. So are those little aside comments you never thought anyone would hear. Ask George Allen about that one!
Our political leaders still have a problem with the candor thing, but we can take comfort in knowing an army of fact checkers stands ready to call bullshit. In Ohio, we know all about this, as no candidate has been more cited for his lies and inconsistency than Senate candidate Josh Mandel, aka, “Mr. Pants on Fire.” The man is pathological, and by November 6, I suspect most Ohio voters will understand this.
The word is getting out via social media, and while the “word” isn’t always 100% factual, it’s generally more reliable than what we hear from the candidates. Within our communities, we’re talking to one another about the inconsistency and the lies, and we’ll be making our voting decisions based on more information than we’ve every had before.
I’ll admit, we’re hardly nonpartisan in our online clusters. A majority of my Facebook “friends” are lefties. But that’s how social media works — birds of a feather and all.
Maybe this week’s viral uprising showed us the “real” Mitt Romney. After all, even the candidate himself can’t deny the words he spoke, so he’s opted to stand by them. Yeah, I don’t get that one, either. But what else can he do?
It’s the campaign season, and things are turning ugly. But I will take much comfort in knowing we can all play a small role in forcing our candidates to show us who they really are.
Consider this post my contribution to the discussion.
For those who care about facts, David Brooks (NYT) does a nice job exposing the fact errors in Romney’s 47% speech. One more reason we need independent media.