Normally I avoid politics as a topic of discussion. It has been my experience that only a small few are actually interested in what others have to say; most political discussions are centered around the desire to yell louder than the other guy or hear someone else agree with you. I’ll try to remain as politically neutral as possible, but let’s be honest – I won’t succeed. So onto the important stuff!
Senator Rand Paul’s filibuster last night ranks as the 9th longest in the history of the US Senate, clocking in at 12 hours and 52 minutes. While Senator Paul has made the Top Ten list, he still falls 11 hours and 26 minutes short of Senator Strom Thurmond’s 1957 record. The man probably needed a bathroom break. I know I would.
Senator Paul’s half-marathon oratory to filibuster the nomination of John Brennan as CIA director highlighted his (and much of the public’s) concern on the White House’s current stance on bypassing due process to execute drone strikes on U.S. citizens both within U.S. borders and abroad. Senator Paul’s position is that the Constitution provides all citizens with the right to due process and does not give any one member of the government power to take a citizen’s life without due process.
Armed with the hashtag #StandWithRand, Senator Rand Paul’s supporters drew an incredible amount of attention to the issue. Although the filibuster has ended, #StandWithRand tweets live on. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen the power of social media in politics. Earlier we addressed the link between number of Facebook fans and a candidate’s success during the 2012 Senate and House elections.
One of the benefits of social media in regards to politics is that it has the power to spread information quickly to a wide audience – providing that the audience is paying attention. Facebook and Twitter have over 1 billion and 200 million active users, respectively. Both social media platforms offer the ability to quickly, with a couple clicks of the mouse, pass information – a statistic, an opinion, or an idea – to possibly hundreds or thousands of people. A recent report concluded that one third of social networking users use their networks to “like”, post, and re-post political content or “take action on a political or social issue that is important to them.”
And while I’m shocked (but not surprised) that the White House was even debating it, Attorney General Eric H. Holder has finally issued an official statement – the President does not have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American who is not engaged in combat on American soil. Well, I could have told you that.
*The views expressed in this article belong solely to the author.