Message Matters: What Is It Like To Promote A Republican Message In The Era Of Cancelculture?
As you are probably well aware at this point, cancelculture is real. And, both the old school "media" and the titans of "social media" are eager to erase Republicans from the conversation.
In the SF Bay Area a lot of self described "conservatives" are genuinely frightened of being politically outed.
"Don't let my friends at fill-in-the-blank know I'm a Republican" may as well be the mantra of a lot of "conservative" retirees. Meanwhile, "Don't let my boss know," is the mantra of a lot of younger Republicans.
For those of you who haven't been part of the Bay Area corporate and tech culture for the past decade we have bad news for you, yes it is now totally "normal" --not legal, but definitely normal-- for workers to be harassed or stigmatized for their personal political viewpoints. We're not talking about the ongoing free speech debate as to whether employees can/should talk politics at work. (We're old fashioned, we think a lot of businesses --particularly Sam Bankman-Fried's "business" might have been at a least a bit more "business-like" without the politics and polyamory. If you want a deep dive into this crazy story click here for some of the best reporting on SBF.) We're talking about people being "targeted" in a work environment because someone finds out they donated five hundred dollars of their OWN MONEY to a political candidate who is, gasp, Republican.
So it shouldn't be a surprise if a lot of self described "conservatives" in the SF Bay Area feel safer online hanging out in private Facebook groups.
We understand. Social media can be incredibly toxic. Not as toxic as the water supply in East Palestine, Ohio, but it can be toxic. Otherwise decent people turn into "keyboard warriors" online. And people who are inherently nasty? Oh... social media is a playground for want-to-be bullies who never had the guts to pick a fight on a Saturday night in a bar in Odessa, Texas.
Regardless of what every well-meaning mom has told every bullied pre-teen for the past hundred years, words actually can hurt. No, words don't break bones. But they can break the spirit.
Back in 2020 we had a "feeling" things were getting strange on social media. Hey, we're run with volunteer labor, we don't have the money for deep dive tech research. But we KNEW at least some of our social media posts were being shadowbanned. We also knew cancelculture posed a fundamental threat to American culture.
So, what could a county central committee do about it?
Well, like the country and western song says, we could keep on keeping on. We could get really creative. And we could keep going. So... we did. Money is always a factor for us --our primary expense in any election cycle is sending out the printed slate mailer promoting all of our candidates to registered Republican households in Marin-- so we have a tendency to do as much as we can for free.
(Plus, it isn't in our nature to pay fourteen bucks to Facebook for an advertising "boost" --like we want to help fund "zuckbucks"?)
So, we worked our Facebook page, we posted on MeWe, we ramped up member communications through any free or low cost option we could.
Our naive amateur social media person was super excited back in November of 2021 when the MarinGOP Facebook page crossed the 1,100 follower rubicon. Hey, just a few months earlier a "thousand" seemed like a nice round number and a serious goal. Then we hit eleven hundred. Then we kept going. We kept going for fifteen months and we crossed the fifteen hundred mark a few weeks ago. And we didn't pay a dime for online advertising.
And we did it in public. We did it in a "public forum" for a very simple reason: Our goal is outreach, our goal is building the party. If you are ALREADY part of a super secret "conservative club" you have a political home. One of the many roles of the Central Committee is to be visibly Republican. If people are, for whatever reason, looking for true Republicans in Marin County they should be able to find the Marin County Republican Central Committee within minutes online. This means we occasionally get hate mail. We get trolls. For a horrible week two years ago our Chairman got daily and hourly phonecalls that were frankly threatening. (The Executive Committee had that "talk" you know, the talk about what we do if a lunatic shows up and firebombs the office. FYI: Backup record storage off-site is always a great idea.) And we also get questions, we get questions from "conservatives" who want to know why we can't take our Facebook page "private" so they feel more comfortable commenting. Hey, real political outreach isn't about being comfortable.
We're the Marin County Republican Central Committee, we're avowed, open & out Republicans. In a hostile environment being out can be a little scary sometimes, but the rewards can be great. So, we thought we'd share our minor Facebook success story with you. In roughly 18 months the MarinGOP Facebook page went from less than a thousand followers to over fifteen hundred. If you want to help us grow to two thousand, feel free to click and share. If you have any questions you'd rather ask privately drop us an email.