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Ask The Gays…

A couple of days ago, American Republican Candidate Donald Trump said in a speech to ‘ask the gays’ about who they thought would be better for them after the Presidential election.

And, as is to be expected the LGBT community responded with what has turned out to be the one of the most gif-filled responses in history.

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Beyond the sass however, is a serious lesson for politicians about the inherent danger of setting themselves up as a social media target. There has been much written over the past couple of years on the topic of when hashtags attack. Actually, I’ve written for the work blog several of them myself. And, while these are usually about corporate fails in the social media world, politicians are at as much risk of making themselves the butt of a joke. 

Leaders of all political persuasions need to both understand the power of social media and take it into account when it comes to their campaigns. For Donald Trump, in the example above, calling out for support from the LGBT community in the light of the Orlando attack beggars belief.

This is a candidate for the highest political office in America, some say the world, who has used the LGBT community as cannon fodder in his election campaign. To then ask them whether they think he is a supporter is something that at best shows no perception of the damage his campaign has begun to cause. He may as well have said to ask the Mexicans, or the Muslims.

On the campaign trail, Donald Trump has used many opportunities to reinforce the Us v Them mentality against the LGBT Community. Trump has made no secret that he does not support the LGBT Community even comparing Marriage Equality to using a new form of long putter in golf that as he describes it is “very unattractive.” 

Quotes on the LGBT Community from Donald Trump during the Republican Primaries. 

Trump Said He Would “Strongly Consider” Appointing Judges To Overturn Same-Sex Marriage Decision. Asked on Fox News Sunday “WALLACE: But — but just to button this up very quickly, sir, are you saying that if you become president, you might try to appoint justices to overrule the decision on same-sex marriage?” TRUMP: “I would strongly consider that, yes.” [Fox News Sunday, 1/31/2016; VIDEO]

Trump Said His First Priority If Elected Would Be To “Preserve And Protect Our Religious Liberty….We’re Going To Protect The First Amendment.” At the Iowa Faith and Family Coalition, Breitbart reported: “‘I will protect… because we’re not being protected,’ Trump said, referencing Christians and religious liberty. He said his first priority if elected President of the United States would be to ‘preserve and protect our religious liberty.’ ‘We’ll be fighting as part [of a] common core, and we’re going to protect totally the First Amendment,’ he vowed.” [Breitbart.com, 9/19/2015; Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, 9/19/2015]

Trump Compared Opposition To Same-Sex Marriage To Disliking Extra Long Putters In Golf. At one point, he compared his opposition to the legalization of same-sex marriage to his reluctance to use a new kind of putter. ‘It’s like in golf,’ he said. ‘A lot of people — I don’t want this to sound trivial — but a lot of people are switching to these really long putters, very unattractive,’ said Mr. Trump, a Republican. ‘It’s weird. You see these great players with these really long putters, because they can’t sink three-footers anymore. And, I hate it. I am a traditionalist. I have so many fabulous friends who happen to be gay, but I am a traditionalist.’” [New York Times, 5/2/2011 ]

Further reading on Donald Trump’s LGBT stance can be found here. 

Given his very public anti-LGBT stance so far in the campaign, it’s fair to ask exactly what he thought his call to “ask the gays” was going to generate. It is reminiscent of former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his belief that social media was nothing more than ‘electronic graffiti‘.

The world of political longevity is over. Social media has given voice to those long forgotten in the race to lead. Throw away lines, or promises made on the campaign trail now have an annoying habit of sticking around, with the population expecting the promises made to be held up after the election.

During the 2013 Australian election, then Opposition Leader Tony Abbott ran a campaign practically without policy, and with three-word-slogans instead. On the eve of the election he said the following:

For those of who endured his rocky leadership, this video is one that has come back to haunt not only him, but the man who rolled him as party leader and became Prime Minister a few months ago, Malcolm Turnbull. 

As history was to show, Mr Abbott’s now infamous ‘No Cuts’ election promise was a laundry list of the exact cuts he would launch as soon as he became Prime Minister. And in the current election the Liberal Party, led by Malcolm Turnbull, is fighting an uphill battle against the long memory of those on social media.

Twenty years ago this sort of false advertising would have been harder to find, but with social media it is quite literally the work of a few seconds on Google to find the video you’re after.

Social media has forever changed the way worldwide politics is played. The mainstream media dominance over how the people get their information is gone. In Australia, the Prime Minister has already called the election as his win, three times in the past week. The country doesn’t go to the polls for another few weeks. You could say it’s hubris to consider himself the winner but it’s very old school.

Our Prime Minister is playing by a deck of cards that no longer have the same rules. Social Media is the unknown in this election. The role it plays both here and in America is yet to be seen in full context, but the leaders of our countries need to be more aware of it’s ability to influence and it’s ability to bring back to the front of the public’s attention annoying facts that are in direct conflict with what they have just said.

 

 

 

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