Let’s play “Confess your unpopular opinion.” Here’s mine: sometimes it is good to talk politics on social media.
I know I’m deeply in the minority on this point. In fact, last week two studies were published indicating the vast majority of Americans are scared to voice their political views publicly, and that half of Americans consider the “Cancel Culture” phenomenon to be dangerous to our country. The only group where a majority of members feel comfortable sharing their views? Far-left liberals. A majority of every group to the right of them on the political spectrum fears real-world consequences if their views offend someone.
A strong liberal likely finds these survey results extremely encouraging. The advancement of liberal thought is fueled with vocal confidence among comrades and is guarded from attack by striking fear into conservatives. For moderates and conservatives, this is an existential threat that inhibits us from passing on our values to future generations.
Unlike generations before us, kids today are likely to talk as much about politics as they are about sports or pop culture. But what are they reading? What do they see when a political issue comes up on social media? Based on the surveys above, they are likely only seeing the most liberal take. We can already see the impacts playing out on college campuses and city streets.
Only one side is proud to be loud, but all sides are politically engaged at an unprecedented level. Belatedly, on behalf of us lifelong political hacks… Welcome to the show!
The switch is flipped: You want to know more, to engage, and to question. You also want to encourage, to defend, and to advocate. But you do not feel comfortable trying any of these things publicly. You could lose friends, even family relationships. You could lose your job. These are not unreasonable fears — they happen every day.
Allow me to offer three suggestions that political professionals use to advance their views:
1. Find your caucus. I’m not talking about the biennial neighborhood caucuses. Per Webster’s Dictionary, I mean, “A closed meeting of a group of persons belonging to the same political party or faction…” Political pros typically belong to several caucuses — some are partisan, others are issue-specific. A caucus is a safe place to learn, to encourage, and to plan ways to advance your goals. Just as sports teams spend most of their time practicing and game-planning with their teammates, time spent in a caucus environment can help focus and improve your advocacy efforts on the political playing field. If you are conservative, I encourage you to try CaucusRoom.com, an online community that I co-founded to help conservatives gather, encourage and engage locally.
2. Know your audience. There’s a difference between what you say and what people hear. If you are new to politics, odds are that your social media followers are not cultivated by a singular political viewpoint. You can make a point that resonates with some friends while ostracizing others. Your caucus is where you can talk with your like-minded friends. Together you can find some best practices to reach others in the middle. And there is a decorum to advocacy that should be respected. Avoiding politics is generally the polite thing to do, most of the time. But if you made it this far in the column, you know there’s also a time to engage.
3. Do not allow a void. If you are abiding by rules 1 and 2, you are ready to advocate your values. The next generation is already listening and watching. They need to know which values you treasure enough to defend.
This is not the time to allow for one side to own a monopoly on speech in the digital space. Let someone who shares your values know they are not alone.
Matt Knoedler is a former Colorado legislator. He is the co-founder and CEO of CaucusRoom.com, an online community for conservatives to gather, encourage and engage locally.