According to recent polls, Chris Christie’s presidential run may be cut shorter than expected. Christie’s initial push for office was met with praise from many conservatives throughout the nation. It wasn’t until incidents like “Bridgegate” that Christie’s name became synonymous with fiscal and moral irresponsibility, threatening his reputation within civil society.
Media outlets and social networks alike have been quick to criticize the governor in times of crisis, with one tweet even reading, “Christie does NOT belong in any race. You’d think he had enough after bridgegate. Buy him a CONSTITUTION & send him packing.” Christie’s campaign has likely been dodging bullets more often than firing them: a sticky situation to be in this close to the election. It is no surprise that his staff has been working extremely hard in covering all of their media bases with the purpose of minimizing any losses.
In Daniel Kreiss’ book, Taking Our Country Back, he discusses the ways in which campaigns have learned to use technology to further their purposes in a way that is both revolutionary and honestly a little frightening. It is understood in the text that more often than not these uses are primarily used to gain information and enable supporters to spread the cause. They focus on targeting groups by collecting and organizing data about the lives of the citizens they wish to impact and using those supporters as volunteer staff. Kreiss explains, “Much of the work of Dean’s staffers involved “network building,” or the creation, cultivation, and maintenance of ties with supporters that staffers could mobilize for collective social and symbolic action.”
In Christie’s situation, I would argue that his staff is doing the same but for different purposes than they had originally intended. Instead of gaining data to figure out the best and most efficient ways to appeal to voters, they are attempting to minimize damage within the campaign and redirect attention toward other more promising futures. By using emerging technology they are able to reverse the damage being done almost as fast as word of it can spread. Tools like twitter only enhance this kind of communication by allowing citizens to voice their opinions, essentially giving campaigns the “ability to win the ground game by turning people into media.” (1)
When Kreiss talks about reaching out to various groups of people through a calculated manipulation of technology, I feel that he could have emphasized the numerous ways in which that method can be used within politics. In regard to campaigning, there are more issues to be dealt with than the amount of people being reached, or metrics on how to appeal to a targeted audience. By using those same measures and the citizens they employ, campaigns are often left figuring out how to lessen the blows of reality—in this case Christie’s reality.
- Kreiss, Daniel. Taking Our Country Back: The Crafting of Networked Politics from Howard Dean to Barack Obama. New York: Oxford UP, 2012. Print.