Update: As I was writing this piece, ANOTHER Emily’s List email hit my inbox…supporter-mobilization in action.
Some of those crazy kids on the Right have been having fun lately…at least, what THEY consider fun. First up: “Slap Hillary,” a Flash game that lets you start a Hillary Clinton caricature talking and then activate a cartoon hand to slap her in the face (she gets googly-eyed as from the impact). Hahaha, until you remember that thousands of women are beaten, killed, etc. by husbands and boyfriends every year. It was just a slap! Until her head hit the wall….
Naturally we’ve seen a backlash: I’ve received emails from Emily’s List and Ultraviolet so far, the former a fundraiser/petition and the latter a petition, and the “Ready for Hillary PAC” is also raising money from supporters. If Clinton supporters get more benefit from this than “Stop Hillary,” the irony would be downright yummy. Of course, they need to be careful, too: one of Ultraviolet’s emails included the line, “If we can get to 80,000 signatures today, we’ll generate enough bad press for the Republican Super PAC that they’ll have to pull the game off their site and apologize.” Um, exactly how does your petition make them do that? Can we at least specify a REALISTIC way a petition signature matters?
Note that the anti-Clinton folks weren’t shy about their new project, actively tweeting reporters “have you slapped Hillary today?” Seems they’ve grasped the power of Twitter to reach agenda-setters and influencers…which brings us to “Abortion Barbie.” Repeating a descriptor he’d used in a blog post before, GOP commentator Erick Erickson tweeted earlier this week:
It is a bit embarrassing that Abortion Barbie doesn't even have her facts straight on Kermit Gosnell considering abortion is her issue.
— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) August 6, 2013
He’s talking about Texas State Senator Wendy Davis, you see, who’s blonde and pretty and therefore must be a Barbie doll, an international symbol for substanceless fluff, even though she managed to (temporarily) filibuster an anti-abortion bill and draw public attention to the Republican strategy to curtail reproductive rights in the states. But remember, she’s blonde!
The common thread uniting “Slap Hillary” and “Abortion Barbie,” besides casual misogyny? An effective use of digital technology to spread the word! Despite all the talk about an online gap between Right and Left, conservative activists ARE using technology to influence the debate and social media to bring attention to their issues. The problem is: what they’re saying. Back in the spring, I argued in Campaigns & Elections that neither Big Data nor Social Media would save Republicans absent the right messages and the right messengers, and these incidents are perfect examples of why that’s true.
So go ahead guys — keep it up. Your opponents will yell at the top of their lungs…as they bank donations and build their lists.