I was trying to decide if what I'm about to mention is coincidence or social-media savvy, and I'm still not sure. I feel like I should mention it, though, if it is indeed social-media savvy, because it shows a shift in Republican approaches to social media.
In the past, the most social-media savvy of our Republican politicians was Stacey Campfield. But his blog, riddled with misspellings and HIV conspiracy theories straight out of the ’80s, does nothing to make people who dislike Campfield think that they may have misjudged him.
But Haslam and Ramsey have taken a slightly different approach — hire folks who like them to shape their online image. As a result, not only do they get out their political messages, they get out the perception that they are people just like you.
Politicians aren't just like us, but the ability to cultivate the illusion that they are is important. Voters want to vote for people they think can relate to them and to whom they can relate.
Twitter is a great medium for this kind of "look, I'm just like you" message, because you have room for a picture and only a few words. There's almost no space to hoist yourself on your own petard.
So look at this. Here we are in the wake of a session that ended in choruses of "WTF?!" from all quarters, the governor's first veto, and a lot of raw feelings. Now look who takes to Twitter — Thursday morning, it's Ron Ramsey talking about his excitement at getting to spend more time with his grandson and sharing photos. (I have to warn you, Ron Ramsey's grandson is so cute that you may make weird squeaky noises when you see his cheeks.)
And late Thursday afternoon, Bill Haslam's spokesperson just happens to tweet this utterly charming photo of Haslam ordering at Sonic. Gov. Haslam, he likes a Cherry Lime-Aid as much as the rest of us.
Sure, a kid's got to have a birthday sometime and even a governor gets thirsty. But that they are savvy enough to share it, and that it works — I mean, even I, who love to grouch about these guys, looked at those photos and thought, "Oh, that's nice" — is interesting. I'll be curious to see if other politicians start to feel pressure not just to have a social-media presence, but to really use that presence to shape their image.