Social Media – The 21st Century Soap Box

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When I dropped my completed ballot in the mailbox I joined with 20 million other Americans who have or will vote early and avoid lines at polling places on November 8.  Early voters are typically those whose minds have been made up for some time and who are not among those who still remain undecided about one or more candidates or issues.  Despite the fact that I’ve already voted I’m not inclined to refrain from political posts on social media.  That’s just not very likely to happen at least until the acceptance and concession statements have been made on Election Night. If I can sway one undecided voter between now and then it will have been worth it.

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I realize that some may have “unfriended” or “unfollowed” me. If so, that’s the price I’m prepared to pay for engaging (some may say over-engaging) in this Presidential campaign.  I guess I could have chosen instead to volunteer to make calls, go door-to-door armed with leaflets and talking points or found other ways to be politically active.  Instead, I chose to make my own online commentaries and share those of others in the belief that social media is the modern day version of the soap box.

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For those who may not be familiar with the use of the term soap box, the Boston Common, which dates from 1634 and is the oldest city park in America, was from its creation a popular location for soapbox orators to express a wide range of political views and ideologies. Standing on an actual soap box was the way people gained attention to express their points of view in the public square. Today, social media has become our modern day soap box.

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This long election cycle is coming to an end. And with it comes an end to the tsunami of social media posts on behalf of or in opposition to both Presidential aspirants and their political parties. I hope that when all the dust settles on Nov. 9 that Americans of all political leanings will accept the outcome and move forward in gestures of good will and reconciliation both large and small. Despite the fact that it has, by any reasonable assessment, been one of the strangest and most contentious campaigns in history it has, nevertheless, demonstrated the uninterrupted continuation of our democratic process that has lasted 240 years.

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There are many lessons to be learned from the way both major parties have conducted their Presidential campaigns. There will be time enough to do a post mortem on Campaign 2016 after Election Day. But for now, let’s at least pause to give thanks that despite the vitriol and animosity between candidates and their partisans we still enjoy freedom to exercise the right to vote for or against whomever we choose. And at the end of the day, no matter how the votes are counted and whoever may be declared the winner it will be freedom and democracy that will be the real victors on Nov. 8.

 

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