Anyone that logged into Facebook or Twitter or any social media outlet in twenty-four hours during and following Senator Ted Cruz’s speech last Wednesday quickly realized that Ted Cruz consumed their news feed. As some may have seen the annoying repetitiveness of #CruzKeepsCruzing and #MakeDCListen hashtags, I see this success as an enormous step forward for not only Ted Cruz, but also the Republican party in general in appealing to our younger generation.
Back in 2008, as many of us hate to admit, Barack Obama united the young masses through his exceptional use of social media, consequently contributing to his victory over John McCain. Never before in a national election had social media played such a prominent role in the success of a campaign. Keeping with his social media tactics again in 2012, he beat out the Republicans again. Obama’s 2012 victory photo alone, for instance, received over 3 million likes on Facebook, making it the “most liked photo” in Facebook history. When compared to Romney, Obama had 21.9 million more Facebook followers. Social media is something that the Democrats got right–they understood the importance and usefulness that social media played to their audience. Republicans and Conservatives, however, tried to follow suit with saddening results: they chose to go “half-in” while never truly understanding the social media game, thus contributing to their own decline with our generation.
For a long time, Republicans have had an issue connecting with the young generations. The old saying “If you’re young and vote Republican, you don’t have a heart” seems to strike a chord amongst our generation and reflect negatively upon the Republican Party. This isn’t because the statement is true; it’s simply because the party fails to connect well with our generation and inform them. With social media being the largest outlet for information that our generation utilizes (89% of 18-29 year olds using Facebook, according to Pew), it makes sense that the Republicans are losing ground to this demographic with the Democrat’s superb presence in the social media realm and the Republican’s often mediocre presence.
Fast forward to 2013, the Republican party has finally understood how to appeal to the younger voters and is attempting to gain the ground that they had lost to the Democrats. They’re starting Twitter accounts and Facebook pages and broadcasting information that the we can relate to. In Cruz’s case, he communicated with the world through Tweets and Facebook posts forcing the world to follow what was going on while informing the world as to the issue at hand. He engaged our generation, as we retweeted, favorited, liked and shared posts through out the night. Our friends saw what was going on and started to ask questions like “What does this mean?” and “What’s the truth behind this?” allowing us to answer and talk with own friends about America’s situation who will in turn talk to their friends and family members. It creates a ripple effect.
Ted Cruz started a discussion with our generation. He made us question and think while providing us with the opportunity for new ideas and opinions. This simple yet critical action on the part of Cruz and his social media followers has forced the Republican party to the forefront of people’s minds – particularly that of our generation. On the flip-side, Ted Cruz has showed conservatives how we can maintain our traditional beliefs while applying them in the 21st century. He has demonstrated how successful a presence in the social media realm can be and conceivably has inspired others to follow his lead and hop on the social media bandwagon.
Conservatives are finally getting it. The true test, however, has yet to arrive. If conservatives want to make change in the White House in 2016 and across Congress in the years to come, they need to follow Ted Cruz’s lead and continue to appeal to America’s future on their home turf. It is with this modern philosophy that they can unite our generation and set America’s government back on the right track.
Hank Prim | Hillsdale College | @HankPrim