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Friday, March 8, 2013

Rand Paul and Social Media

The Rand Paul filibuster is the latest illustration of the power of social media. At The Washington Post, Karen Tumulty writes:
Here’s an irony the Founding Fathers could never have anticipated: The old-fashioned filibuster — that most archaic of parliamentary tools — is suddenly the rage of the attention-span-challenged social media set.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) created a sensation Wednesday by railing for nearly 13 hours straight in the Senate chamber against the Obama administration’s use of unmanned drones.
The freshman senator lost on the question at hand, as pretty much everyone expected he would. The Senate approved the nomination of John O. Brennan to lead the CIA on Thursday on a vote of 63 to 34.
But Paul’s speech won praise from the civil libertarians on the left and the right. Twitter tracked 1.1 million tweets relating to the filibuster, 450,000 with the hashtag #standwithrand.
Many conservatives noted that Paul and a few allies were tenaciously holding the floor even as a group of fellow Republican senators was committing the heretical act ofdining with President Obama across town.
At National Journal, Ron Fournier writes:
Paul is a junior senator from Kentucky, a darling of the tea party and libertarians who thrives on the margins of the political establishment. And yet he was able to cow the White House by harnessing Twitter and other social media to rally public support. Sen. John McCain, a Republican from another era, sniffed at Paul’s appeal to young voters in “dorm rooms.” Like the anti-piracy legislation thwarted by online activists last year, the Paul drone filibuster may mark a turning point in American activism. For better or worse, public opinion is now more democratized than ever.