Prior to the 2010 mid-term election in the United States, the conventional wisdom was that Republicans would probably pick up 20 to 30 seats in the House of Representatives. Yes, there were other more rosy prognostications from folks like Dick Morris that the number would be much higher. But generally most commentators were hedging their bets. When the dust had settled, Republicans picked up 63 seats, the largest gain in several decades and a clear rejection of the performance of the previous House membership and the Obama agenda.
The Tea Party movement, as disparate and multi-faceted as it is, deserves the lion share of credit for this political sea change. The rest of the credit can be attributed to the arrogant behavior Barack Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and others in Congress that energized patriotic Americans to do the right thing. And the enabling technology that helped the Tea Party movement? The Internet fabric of social media sites that enabled passionate Americans to communicate, commiserate, argue, plan and educate one another about the true nature of the American experiment, the need for limited government and the way to effect the changes necessary to restore fiscal sanity to the nation and to stop the Obama-engineered Marxist juggernaut.
Social media is now enabling others throughout the world to effect changes in their own countries, Egypt of course, being the most salient example of what happens when people are able to share information and act upon it...so long as the Internet pipes are open.
It's been said that in addition to Ronald Reagan's pressure to force the Soviets to spend themselves into oblivion on defense, one of the contributing factors to the demise of the Soviet Union during the period of glasnost was the accessibility of information about the seventy years of prosperity that the West had been enjoying and that the enslaved peoples of the Soviet states had not but had been promised. When massive protests in Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia and other countries ensued it was only a matter of time before Communism collapsed. And this was before the Internet was in use by the public and social media existed!
The world is embarking into new territory where information is free and instantaneous and more difficult to control. Rather than strengthening oppressive and abhorrent ideologies, like those espoused by groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda, the mullahs of Iran, social media is capable of presenting ideas that challenge once strongly-held or cherished beliefs. Information accessible on Facebook, Twitter and other discussion sites has the ability to change hearts and minds at a much faster pace than books smuggled into countries under the gaze of secret policeman or other security apparatuses. It allows people in the privacy of their own homes to examine what is true and what is false, what seems ethical and what appears to be twisted rather than be influenced by state-controlled media or the group think of those indoctrinated in mosques or in political party gatherings.
The spread of ideas has gone into hyper-drive and political change as a result is likely to happen at a much faster pace throughout the Middle East, China and other countries around the world where human beings are less free. That said, social media also has the ability to strengthen cherished beliefs and to embolden those bent on evil to act out. But my sense is that this will be the exception and not the rule and that the spread of ideas rather than ushering in a thousand years of darkness is more likely to usher in a new age of enlightenment. If that is the case, this doesn't bode well for radical, fundamentalist Islamists or the Communist hierarchy in China. But, of course, I'm a starry-eyed, freedom-loving optimist.
What do you think?