Political Persuasion

| Tue Jan. 6, 2009 11:30 AM EST

POLITICAL PERSUASION....Matt Yglesias mocks RNC Chairman Mike Duncan's recent burbling about how Republicans need to start using Twitter and Facebook and "the different technology that young people are using today":

I love Twitter. I have two Twitter feeds. I manage one with Twitterific and another with Twitterfox. And of course there's my iPhone interfaces, too. Twitter's neat, it's fun, I enjoy it. But you can't do political persuasion on Twitter and anyone who's at all familiar with either Twitter or political persuasion could tell you that. It's important for political movements to embrace new technologies, but part of embracing new technologies is understanding them and actually respecting what they're for and Twitter is never going to be anything other than an incidental sideshow to political activism.

I'm not so sure about that. It sort of depends on what you mean by "political persuasion," I think. A steady stream of tweets containing ever more apocalyptic messages about (for example) the imminent demise of American civilization due to immigration legislation wending its way through Congress could be effective at helping to rouse the masses to protest. Couldn't it? Matt is probably right that Twitter by itself is something of a sideshow, but all of these technologies put together (Twitter, texting, Facebook, YouTube, etc.) could end up being as effective in mobilizing the 20something generation as talk radio was mobilizing the Newt generation. And mobilization is persuasion, no?

Actually, Duncan's real problem is probably not so much that he's wrong about Twitter, but that he doesn't have any real clue about what Twitter is. He seems to treat it more like a buzzword than a genuine concept. But at least it's a start.