Why Talking About Politics On Social Media Is More Important Than Ever

by Elizabeth Broadbent
Originally Published: 
politics on social media
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“If there weren’t doubts raised about her health previously,” the woman posted, “she has had a few other health ‘episodes’ that have people guessing that she has an autoimmune condition of some sort.”

“OMG,” I replied. “She doesn’t have an autoimmune disorder. Don’t believe the Trump craziness.”

I’m going to get flamed for this, I know, even as I type it. The original poster will get angry, and the mama whose Facebook wall we’ve commandeered will try to be a peacemaker, and everyone will come away feeling unsatisfied and pissed off. I don’t care. I won’t stop sharing and discussing politics on social media.

Never before have we faced such a choice, one between a qualified statesman and a shifty, racist tycoon. Fortunately, that statesman happens to be a woman. Unfortunately, that makes Clinton subject to all the hate and misogyny the American right can bring to bear upon a successful woman. First, they screamed about Benghazi. Then, they shouted about her emails. Now, they’re spreading vile rumors about her health, and using her campaign-induced pneumonia to prove it. Bitch, please. Secretary of State isn’t a job you can do lying down.

In the meantime, Donald Trump is promising to build a wall to keep all the Mexicans out, and to make Mexico pay for it. That’s how much he hates Hispanics, who, according to reliable evidence, he’s made racist remarks about again and again. That’s not to mention how much he dislikes people of color, that his early real estate businesses blocked African Americans from renting apartments, and how he failed to immediately denounce David Duke and the KKK for their endorsement.

Like everyone else, I have Trump fanboys (and fangirls) on my friends list: people you can’t help but keep around because they’re important to you, but who have execrable taste in politicians. They’ve bought into the Trump hype because he’s promised to make America great again and bring back real American values and give us all jobs and let us buy big, big guns. And he’s anti-abortion (in a politically expedient change of heart), which decides it for those who make abortion issues the sole criteria for their vote.

But I firmly believe those people can change. I firmly believe that, when faced with facts, statistics, and links to reliable sources, they can begin thinking that maybe Trump isn’t such a great idea. They can see the racist things he says, and since the vast majority of the people I know don’t want to be a racist (even if they are), they can decide to distance themselves from him. If confronted with actual facts, these people might change their minds.

So every time I argue with a Trump voter, every time I post an anti-Trump meme, I’m trying to bring others over from the dark side. While I am guilty of sharing memes that just make fun of Trump (“At least Voldemort had better hair”), I try to stick to real life: facts, statistics, proof of his lies. Those are what convince people, not ad hominem attacks.

But there’s another reason I won’t shut up about politics. As I said before, this is one of the most important elections in recent history. We’re facing a stark choice about the American destiny, about the haves and the have-nots, the whites and every-freaking-one else. Some liberals are getting complacent. Trump is simply so over the top, and we’re suffering such outrage fatigue that we’ve ceased to pay attention to the horrible things he’s done and said. And anyway, magical prognosticator Nate Silver gives Hillary about a 70% chance of winning the general election (as of September 14). So basically, without some major upset, we liberals have it in the bag.

Or not. Because these predictions assume that people get out and vote. It assumes liberals don’t decide to sit on their duffs and watch CNN instead of going to the polls. It assumes people keep talking about Donald Trump, his racism, his misguided policies, and the ways he’s wrong for America. So when I post memes, or highlight the racist comments he’s made in the past, I’m preaching to the choir as well. I want to keep reminding people that this election is happening, that we need to take it seriously, that we can’t let our vigilance drop — or the vigilantes win.

So no, I won’t shut up about politics on social media until the day after the presidential election. Someone has to try to talk the Trump folks into reason, and someone has to rally the party faithful. Donald Trump and his followers are a real threat to the American way of life, the glorious melting pot we’ve built, where taco trucks can be found in rural South Carolina and every city of any size boasts a mosque. We have to fight the threat of a Trump presidency any way we can. And since so many people get their news from social media, it’s incumbent on us digital activists to yell, and yell, and keep yelling, preferably with facts. Because if nothing else, I harbor a deep conviction that the truth will win out. And that truth will set us free.

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