In Honduras and Iran: How the Web Can Control Government
By Adam Bitely
Over the last couple of weeks, an interesting phenomenon has developed across the globe. People have been using social networking on the internet to rise up against oppressive governments and steer the direction of debate. Sites like Twitter and Facebook have become powerful tools in this fight.
In Iran, massive protests have been coordinated to fight back against an unfair election. Iranians used Twitter to send protest locations, maps to hospitals, and to alert people where the government goons were launching their counter attacks. Twitter proved to be the most powerful tool in there uprising. While the final result of all this in Iran is yet to be seen, the level of the uprising was nonetheless remarkable.
Honduras is a perfect case study of how social networking can lead people to become more united and informed of what is happening in their government. When Manuel Zelaya was thrown out of the country after attempting to violate the term limits law in the constitution, Facebook became a top source to stay informed of what happened. As a result of all the news and information that was posted on different social networking sites, the country remained united and informed and maintains its democracy without a dictator.
Iran and Honduras are just the beginning in this internet age where a "webolution" can lead people rising up against the injustices of government and keeping government in check. To a degree, this has happened in America.
Take the Tea Party movement for example. On April 15, 2009, hundreds of thousands of Tea Party protesters gathered in cities from coast to coast. Most of these people had never protested before. How did all these Tea Party goers get their information? Twitter, Facebook, email, etc.
This is truly the age where a "webolution" is possible. People are getting their news online. Naturally, if one wants to start a political movement, the best place to get the message out is on the internet. Most of the social networking sites are free and thus, cost is low to spread the messa far and wide. It is also extremely easy to identify potential fellow supporters and get them plugged into your ideas.
It is extremely possible in the United States to launch a very coordinated "peaceful" opposition movement against the current policies of our government using the same methods already tested and proven successful in Honduras and Iran. Politicians do pay attention when people get disgruntled and protest. But they will only pay attention if the protest is big enough and wide enough.
We already know that calling your congressman does not work. That can be proven by the passage of such legislation as the “stimulus” bill, cap-and-trade in the House and the bailouts last fall. We have called and called and called. The results were dismal. Now is the time for people to rise up and protest what this government is doing.
If people in Honduras and Iran can do it, we can too. The success of the Tea Parties shows us that a lot of us are already online and taking part in making our voices heard. Now, we must go the next step in continuing to apply the pressure to assure the political class that we are fed up and will throw them out.
Now is not the time for the summer soldier and sunshine patriot. We need to be in for the long haul. The line has been drawn and we must be ready to do what it takes to enforce our constitution on those in Washington D.C. that would rather toss it aside. So get Tweeting and get your message out. Be willing to work with others. And if we can get as organized as they did in Honduras and Iran, we can make a difference here.
Adam Bitely is the New Media Director for Americans for Limited Government and the Executive Director of NetRightNation.com.