Conservative and viral: I did it — why can’t the party?
A few weeks ago I wrote a tongue-in-cheek polemic railing against a guy who broke up with me via text. It was hyperbolic, comical, and, at its core, based on honest emotion and sentiment. The night before I published it I contacted a lawyer because I knew there was a good chance it would be a popular read, spreading quickly around the Internet.
That prediction proved correct within an hour of publishing. Shockingly, my blog, an events and society rag that occasionally and very peripherally touches on conservative politics, was seeded on Reddit—a cesspool of anonymous, implacable, predominantly-male trolls; also—the gatekeeper of all things viral. From what I can tell, it was put on Reddit by a regular reader of my blog, a right-wing conservative who often posts non-tangential comments about the conspiracy theory du jour that I almost never write about anyway.
The reactions my text blog drew were beyond hilarious:
“Another example of an Obama-supporting Gen Y brat.” “Liberal ideology at its best.” “What a stupid egotisckle (sic) Democrat.”
All this over a relationship blog.
I’ve worked Values Voters, CPAC, AIPAC, and the Faith & Freedom Coalition Conference. I volunteered with the 9/12 Project, CUFI, American Principles Projects, and the list goes on and on. I am the farthest thing from an Obama voter.
Amusing misjudgments aside, all of this goes to show that no one wants to believe Republicans are capable of writing anything of any viral value. I’d patched together a quick narrative and called someone out on his complete and obvious presumptuousness. Have liberals dominated the “viral” market so much that comical storytelling is immediately deemed a trait of the left?
While Republicans continue to search for the reason we keep losing every PR opportunity handed to us—the government shutdown is a good example—the answer is glaringly obvious, and it isn’t based in statistics, logic, or political theory. Low-information or high-information, everyone loves a good story. Our messaging isn’t organized. The difference in digital competencies between our team and our opponents is no longer simply problematic. It’s now catastrophic and deal-breaking in terms of our survival.
Currently we have a sitting president who has told boldfaced lies to us. We have a very likely 2016 contender responsible for the Benghazi murders who has somehow dodged accountability enough to consider even running for the highest office in the world. How have we gotten to this point? Through demagogues spinning remarkably brilliant stories and mistruths that sound appealing to the average American who longs for a resolution and doesn’t want to believe any evil actually exists.
The friendly fire from the Republican troll that made me viral (1,000,000 times more viral than Obamacare on its opening day, to be exact) is a good example of how we can’t find any unity. I’m often asked how I’ve handled such a storm of negativity. A Google search will unveil hundreds of thousands of racial slurs, rape threats, and/or any kind of terminal illness wished upon myself or my parents. Trolls, those mindless idiots who create overnight Internet sensations using libelous, explosive rhetoric, bless their hearts, are a substantial—and extremely lucrative—part of my readership.
And they’re also voting. So buck up, Republicans. We’ve got to stop pretending to be above the fray of politics and get our messaging together. Candidates should be hiring “me”s, envelope-pushing firebrands who know the ins and outs of social media and aren’t afraid to get dirty, rather than Roves, those antiquated “experts” in running elections for pre-Internet ADD-afflicted audiences of yore.
Quin Woodward Pu is a Washington, DC-based blogger and author of Type A+ and DIGFAST. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.