What has become of the political handwork?

By Emile Weekers

Great and successful politics, until recently, essentially was to develop a stimulating idea or concept which would work for the targeted electorate. Great politicians were great at, together with their advisors, developing such visions and subsequently getting their target electorate behind it. It was almost like spinning a web around the electorate. Such ideas and concepts were usually enticing and uplifting. However, if circumstances dictated, plans and ideas would be harsher and less attractive. They had the ability to get people behind it, nevertheless. This was the traditional political handwork.

Technology, and the so called ‘social media’ in particular, have changed this fundamentally. Politicians rarely seem to take the time nowadays to develop such visions, concepts and the strategy to get their electorate behind it.

It seems as if they are now constantly staring at the polls, which with modern technology can be generated almost in real time, and the messages of the public via the likes of Twitter. This leads to politicians’ ideas and convictions becoming increasingly fluid and less recognisable. Consequently, their electorate becomes less loyal or less committed which reinforces the effect.

The electorate becomes increasingly less patient and takes less time to get into the content (140 characters will do). This also reinforces the constant state of flux of ideas and convictions. The identity of parties is becoming increasingly abstract as they try to, in real time, please their electorate and are constantly in response mode.

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