Even if you are barely paying attention to the presidential primaries, you have heard Twitter mentioned multiple times. Candidates are making announcements, responding to supporters and critics, hurling insults and ridiculing opponents, fundraising, and sharing their views and stands in 140 characters, 24/7.
We have had the Radio elections, the TV elections and now we are experiencing the Twitter elections. Here’s a little history.
The 1994 Elections
Radio which began in the 1800’s first appeared in the 1906 mid-term elections when a few stations reported the results on air. It wasn’t used in the elections much after than until 1924 when the conventions were covered and the presidential candidates took to the air-waves to take their case directly to the voters. The candidates were Calvin Coolidge (R), John W. Davis (D) and Robert M. LaFollett (P). Coolidge won.
When the 1924 campaign began, no one knew what radio would be worth as a weapon in the campaign war chest. For millions to hear the voices of the candidates was unique – it couldn’t be duplicated in silent movies or newspapers. Many in both parties questioned how they could know if there was an audience listening and if their message was reaching them. By the end of the campaign, these questions and more were answered. It was clear that radio had improved politics and furthermore politics had improved radio.
From The 1924 Radio Election By Don Moore
The 1960 Elections
It’s now common knowledge that without the nation’s first televised debate — fifty years ago Sunday — Kennedy would never have been president. But beyond securing his presidential career, the 60-minute duel between the handsome Irish-American senator and Vice President Richard Nixon fundamentally altered political campaigns, television media and America’s political history. “It’s one of those unusual points on the timeline of history where you can say things changed very dramatically — in this case, in a single night,” says Alan Schroeder, a media historian and associate professor at Northeastern University, who authored the book, Presidential Debates: Forty Years of High-Risk TV
From Time How the Nixon-Kennedy Debate Changed the World By Kayla Webley
While TV was not used for presidential debates for the next 16 years, it is now a staple in our political process. We not only have debates, we have town halls, interviews-live, streamed and phoned in. And we can watch this all on TV as well as our mobile devices.
Will 2016 be the Twitter Election?
TV is still a big part of the political campaigns, but there is a new media in play: Twitter. Some say that Twitter use is driven by the news media who report the latest Tweets from candidates, their campaigns and political pundits. Whatever the case, the candidates and their campaigns are not only taking to the airwaves, but also to Twitter. And they are reaching millions of people, who are responding to and re-tweeting their messages. Twitter is fast, direct and engaging the electorate.
Is There a Lesson Here for Ministers?
Ministers are not politicians, but we do have a message to share–John 3:16: “God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him may never die, but may have eternal life.” And we have a mandate in Matthew 28:19: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations…” The news media will probably not be following us, but believers, seekers and those who have been away from the church may.
One of the new parts of the New Evangelization is new methods. Today, when we ask ourselves if we are doing all that we can to spread the gospel message and fulfill the gospel mandate, we also have to ask if we are using social media tools such as Twitter to do it. Unlike radio spots and TV ads, social media is free!!
Let me conclude with this final scripture:
Luke 16:8 And his lord commended the unrighteous steward because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are for their own generation wiser than the children of the light.
Let’s see if when it comes to using social media for mission, the children of light can also wise.
What do you think?