In the past, Europe has constantly looked to the US for inspiration. The west are benchmarks for many things; fashion, celebrity culture, even technology. Politically, the US has always been one step ahead when it came to discovering technology that would allow candidates to elevate their field campaigns to a whole new level. These field tech advancements have seen us look at online data differently, fine tune political messaging and even dissect Twitter postings character per character.
What's next? Do political operatives in Europe throw caution to the wind and operate online like Trump? Do we invest bigger budgets into our campaigns and pay for better canvassers? Or, do we move to towards more secure digital infrastructures that will see us leap beyond the US and make them turn their heads in our direction?
As you can see there is many big questions and due to the fast pace of the political industry, we find ourselves fortunate to have time to explore these trends.
Looking at the US, this is what we know to trending at present:
Switch on to people-powered movements. Progressive causes are catching fire this year. We saw the rise of the #indivisible, #metoo & #bluewave movements breakthrough initailly in the US. These are all living, disrupting and igniting online. Concieved on social media platforms and then breaking into mainstream media publications, we've seen many powerful people fall as a result. This is changing the narrative in the real world. Digital movements are now real movements. We already saw evidence of this in the recent Irish referendum on appealing abortion rights. The Repeal the 8th force was founded online, it gained massive momentum through merchandising and influencer support that it saw a landslide victiry for the Yes vote back in May. So our top tips for attemtpting to tap into the success of a progressive campaigns
- Utilise social media, pick a platform where you can generate a solid support base.
- Have a coherent message.
- Gain advocates and people of strong influence.
- Get a hashtag going, this helps increase visibility and foster a sense of community.
- Don't be afraid to take your campaign offline by holding events, many progressive campaigns begin by organising marches or town halls.
- Engage in structured debate.
- Ensure there is a end goal, many people will feel more of a duty to get involved if a campaign has an end date or a voting date.
- Keep it positive.
Turning Headlines Into Campaigns
Emotive news events are becoming flashpoints around which campaigns take off. The Parkland School shooting in Florida saw student survivors catapult into the political landscape by speaking out against gun laws and even putting their own names on the ballot. These youth-centric movements not only show the power of activating the young voter but also the complete disenchantment of one demographic of the electorate. In the UK, a grassroots campaign against local government in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire has led to the many news outlets sit up and take notice. Prominent music artists in the UK have also used their influence to throw light on the situation, most recently Grime rapper Stormzy publicly calling out Prime Minister at the Brit Music Awards. Our key takeaway here is that political influence can come from the most unliklely source. People didn't expect the survivors of the Parkland shooting to stand up against the NRA. People didn't expect British rappers to call out Conservative politicians ans gain concessions but its the authenticity which proved the winning factor.
Changing The Political Conversation
We have been warned on multiple occasions that engaging in debate online is dangerous. It's risky. It can end political careers.
Political discourse has changed dramatically and drastically. Love him or hate him, Trump has shaken up the way political discourse is operating. Things in the US are more unrestrained, less manufactured and altogether a little bit more real. Politicians are finally aware that social media is a form of direct speech to the electorate and requires immediacy when responding. Twitter and Instagram has allowed this to accelerate and go relatively unchallenged. Hate speech fills the online forums - people claiming free speech. With Trump going unpoliced online, will we a shift in the way political messaging is shared?
On a broad scale, the political discourse in the US has stayed largely in the US. In Europe we see populist governments attempting to rise, as yet this culture is sidelined to only a handful of countries. Europe as an entity looks to be meeting the challenge head on, but the road ahead is long. The threat to the EU is strong, we can't deny that, is it due to the influence of the "rogue state" that the US is not turning into, who knows?
We would love to hear some more thoughts on hot topics from the United States that are having an impact on European politics. Feel free to leave a comment below so we can continue the debate.