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Nelson Mandela died this week. Rest in Peace Madiba.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), Tea Party darling, did what any decent human being would do in the age of Twitter… he tweeted condolences to Mandela’s family and the people of South Africa.
If you can tell a lot about a politician by the people who follow him, then the reactions from the angry, perhaps former supporters of Ted Cruz speak volumes about who he is and what his followers think of him. Prior to Cruz’s compassionate, humane posts about the loss of a great global leader, Cruz was the standard bearer for the Tea Party and the right-wing of Texas. Now, as his (former) supporters are saying, he has revealed himself to be a commie-lover and terrorist sympathizer.
The reaction to his posts reveals that Cruz sits (sat?) atop a mountain of hate; a sea of Americans who will never forgive anyone who ever associates with their enemies, no matter to what end. Even if Mandela’s political alliances were all to serve the mission of liberating a nation of oppressed people, he remains forever tainted in the eyes of the far-right in America. And while many on the left have also leveled criticisms of Mandela, the response to Cruz was dominated by his betrayed supporters, from the right.
Ted Cruz is the political leader the far right looks to and they found him lacking.
So take heed. You may seek to control your image by controlling what you share on social media. But in the end, you will be defined as much by how your supporters react to you as you will by your own words.
Carpe colloquium… before it seizes you.
Alan Rosenblatt, Ph.D. is a social media and online advocacy strategist, professor & thought leader. He is Senior Vice President of Digital Strategy at turner 4D (formerly Turner Strategies), the co-founder and host of the Internet Advocacy Roundtable; and an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins, American, (Georgetown and Gonzaga Universities), where he teaches courses on internet politics. He was Associate Director for Online Advocacy at the Center for American Progress/CAP Action Fund from 2007-2013, where he created and directed the Center’s social media program, as well as Ombudsmen and co-founder at Take Action News. Alan taught the world’s first internet politics course ever at George Mason University in 1995. He founded the Internet Advocacy Roundtable in 2005; blogs at SocialMediaToday.com, Connectivity.CQRollCall.com, DrDigipol.Tumblr.com and occasionally/previously at BigThink.com, HuffingtonPost.com, techPresident.com; serves on E-Democracy.org’s board of directors and Social Media Today’s Advisory Board; In 2008, he was a fellow at George Washington University’s Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet; and is a co-founder of MediaBureau.com. Alan has a Ph.D. in Political Science from American University, an M.A. in Political Science from Boston College and a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy from Tufts University. Find him on Twitter and across social media at @DrDigiPol.