Campaigning in 140 characters or less

Is Tim Pawlenty bitter, or does his idea have some merit? Pawlenty, who was a candidate for the Republican party’s nomination for president, has stated that he believes the race to become the 2012 nominee, who will contest the White House against Barack Obama, is nothing more than a reality television show. Pawlenty believes that he was the only candidate who had a substantive plan to better the United States, but that he failed because his ideas were too boring, and people did not care. So is he right, or is he bitter that he was bested by Michele Bachmann?

I can tell you that if I finished third to Bachmann and Ron Paul in a poll, I might drop out too. But I do think he has some validity to his claims. Campaigning in 2011 is a totally new beast, and one that is very difficult to effectively conquer. We live in a world that thrives on news and information that fits into 140 characters or less. So if you’re touring the country spouting out facts, discussing your record, and quite simply boring people to death, you’re not going to be successful. It doesn’t matter that Pawlenty has been crisscrossing the country for months, and spending large amounts of time in key battleground states. Nor does it matter that he could indeed have the solution to all the country’s problems. People don’t care.

Now, I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t acknowledge the fact that I too am attracted to the media glitz that accompanies political campaigning. The stories of most interest are not the ones covering candidate proposals. They are the ones discussing trivial and irrelevant aspects of the candidate’s personal lives, their past, or what food they ate at a county fair. It is sometimes hard to look past all of that, and actually evaluate a candidate for their ideas, and not their fashion sense. I admit, that not even for this post could I force myself to research Pawlenty’s ideas to see if they actually did have merit, when compared against his rivals. I guess we’ll have to take his (biased) word for it.

This idea gains more relevance when examining the sagging poll numbers for President Obama. As the economy worsens, and Obama’s time in office increases, people are becoming less enamoured with him. Did the electorate select him based on his 140 characters or less campaign strategy, and are now realizing he does not have a real plan for dealing with the issues (and lord knows there are a lot of them) that plague the country? I sincerely hope the answer is no. But as unemployment increases, and November 2012 quickly approaches, we might find out it is indeed true.

So what is the solution to the problem of people (including myself) who tune out the actual facts, and instead occupy their time with more glitzy television coverage? I am not sure. Please comment and let me know your thoughts. Unless twitter somehow disappears (which would leave a large void in my life) and media coverage becomes more substantive, candidates like Pawlenty may be out of luck.


About Chris James

A student of political science at a Canadian University sharing stories of interest on Canadian and American political and social issues.

Posted on September 8, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. the sad thing is, if you are super set in your ways, the world will leave you behind (just as pawlenty is figuring out). if you want to stay ahead or at least competitive, you need to be able to relate to people in an ever-changing world. not to say that i am crazy about twitter or facebook, but when you are trying to get people to notice you and remember your name, maybe dropping a tweet or two may not be such a bad thing. campaigning has changed alot since the 1970s, and maybe it is time he realized that.

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