In a world where technology gives your average teenager the power to communicate on the same Twitter and Facebook channels as national celebrities and presidential candidates, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), Occupy Wall Street and hactivist group Anonymous have found a way to leverage their voices and push the sometimes fringe or even radical issues which they care about into the national conversation.
Last Friday, Anonymous claimed responsibility for hacking the CIA’s website. By using technology, hacktivists are able to conceal their identities and, more importantly, force authorities to prosecute a group that does not ostensibly meet or communicate. For all we know, Julian Assange has completely given up on Wikileaks, and his ego, to put on the “V for Vandetta Mask.” The most recent attacks are mostly in response to proposed legislation (SOPA, PIPA) to regulate the internet which would attach prison sentences for online sharing of copyrighted material. Ironically, the proposed legislation would classify almost all internet users as hackers since listening to copyrighted songs on YouTube, sharing them on Facebook or posting copyrighted videos on personal blog sites would all be criminal acts. Millions are protesting this legislation and have already staged a worldwide internet blackout. Authorities are left scratching their heads at how to stop the next attack.
This month OWS camps all over the country, including in Washington, D.C., and Austin, Texas, were issued evictions forcing them to take down their tents. Although they are not allowed to have the continued presence in these areas OWS has continued to communicate using technology to organize protests and even work their way into Republican presidential affairs as they protested CPAC last weekend in DC. Their “1% vs. the 99%” message is clearly heard across the nation. Its “tax the 1%” message was propagated by President Barack Obama in the State of the Union and yet condemned, by bloggers, journalists and activists like the conservative Andrew Brietbart this past weekend at CPAC. OWS has found a way to stay in the game despite a lack of unity on policy issues, or a brick and mortar base to call home.
Ron Paul supporters are clamoring for a recount in Maine. Even if it is granted, it is unlikely that a new vote would make a difference in making Paul the Republican candidate. However, Paul has already made a difference in American politics regardless of the 2012 presidential outcome. Given that Paul is an independent running on a Republican ticket, gets no love from the media, he openly talks about radical policies and he reminds most voters of your ranting, crazy Uncle Jebediah who lectures you on Thanksgiving about how Muslims are teaching homeless people karate at night to take over America, Ron Paul is proving that you don’t have to come from a rich, politically connected family to be considered a contender for the highest office in the free world. His message of individual freedom and trust in the ability of the citizens to educate, defend and pay for their own country has been met with as much scorn, contempt and skepticism as with shouts of hope and political enthusiasm that every candidate has been trying to inject into their political base since the start of the primary race.
Each of these entities has shown the impact that fringe activist groups can push their issue to the front American politics.
Which do you think is the most effective at sending their message?
Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore