Hillary Clinton has long proven that she has the ability to get things done. As senator of New York and Secretary of State, she won many hard-fought battles and cemented her place as one of the great politicians of our time. Yet, her campaign fails when it comes to winning the support of the younger generation, and the reason why boils down to her approach to social media. In terms of engaging the young electorate, Clinton’s campaign team has simply failed to keep up with the times.
Back in the 1960s, the information delivery process was a one-way pipeline: the mass audience received messages from TV, radio and newspapers, but there was no machinery for immediate feedback. It was easier to control the effect of a single advertisement, which meant politicians had much more control over their image. Take JFK for example: despite his womanizing behaviors, he leveraged his media presence in order to project an air of moral uprightness that eventually metamorphosed into his legacy.
Times have changed. The Internet spreads good and bad news faster than ever. Unlike in the days of JFK, the masses are no longer silent; instead, they enthusiastically comment, re-tweet, create and riff on content. The internet has given them a voice, and they love to exercise that voice whenever possible.
Clinton’s campaign team and her policies, however, remain conservative. The official Clinton campaign Youtube channel has tons of campaign videos, but oddly, the comments sections are almost empty. Every other campaign channel, from Martin O’Malley to Donald Trump, allow comments because their campaigns recognize the value of engaging the audience in every way possible. Whether the comments are positive or negative, the freedom to comment is a vital part of modern politics. Haters gonna hate, and they should be allowed the freedom to hate.
This is not to mention that Clinton’s ads are not engaging at all. They mostly consist of dry reruns of her speeches while in office and laundry lists of past achievements. For the younger generation, these references are distant and lack relevance to their sphere of experience. To millennials, Clinton seems more like a relic from the past.
Clinton excels at public speeches. As an indisputably experienced lawyer, she’s confident and unhesitant when taking rebuttals. If TV was the only measure of campaign success, she might have beaten Sanders by a greater margin in the recent Iowa caucus. However, campaigns now exist in interactive spheres, where audiences can participate, not just observe. If Secretary Clinton wants the last laugh, she has to show her younger voters that she’s able to play their game and win their vote by keying into the specific concerns of the current generation.
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A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Feb. 1 print edition. Email Abraham Gross at [email protected]