#BigGovSucks: A Look at the Conservative Social Media Movement

This piece was co-authored by two of our Florida Contributors, Lauren Konkol and Kyle Foley.

Since the origins of conservative media Post-WWII, the proliferation of talk radio, web celebrities, and most recently, the use of twitter hashtags, a noticeable effect on public opinion and political platforms has been identified.

It is becoming increasingly evident that conservative media now helps shape the agenda of the Republican Party and its adherents. Pundits question that if the leaders of Republican Party are not setting the agenda, then who is?

The clear answer is Millennials, the age group of people born between the years of 1980 and 2000. Of the approximate 307 million Twitter users worldwide, Generation Y, as they are commonly referred to, comprise a large majority of these users.

BigGovSucks

While some in the public square argue that this is impeding the Republicans’ ability to govern effectively and to win presidential elections, this age group, rather, largely defines which issues are important to them and resultantly, democracy is encouraged because the purpose of the government is not only to provide for the safety and security of American’s, but to represent the people, not define what they believe is important.

Millennials are connected and diverse in their passions, and they openly pursue and advocate for those interests. Our society should be making efforts to engage them, not limit them to a particular preconceived label of generational incompetence. Their influence extends most noticeably on social media platforms, because where some Gen X-ers are technologically savvy, most Gen Y-ers are technologically dependent.

Although they tend to blur personal and professional lines, Generation Y is positioned in the lead in an age when social media is becoming the chief medium in which our society communicates.

The use of social media in the political realm has been widely seen as the upper-hand for the Left, but that has been changing over the last several years. The social media hashtag #BigGovSucks, for example, has recently sparked a national movement. This greatly demonstrates the increasing influence of conservative social media in the political sphere.

Turning Point USA, a non-profit activist organization whose mission is to promote the principles of fiscal responsibility, free markets, and limited government, has worked incessantly to rebrand conservative values, with sound bites like, “Big Government Sucks” and “Capitalism Cures.”

Turning Point USA's Founder and Executive Director, Charlie Kirk.

Turning Point USA’s Founder and Executive Director, Charlie Kirk.

Charlie Kirk founded Turning Point USA in 2012 and has since shaped it into an organization dedicated to identifying, educating, empowering, and mobilizing young people behind conservative principles. With a motto of “Late to bed, early to rise, work like hell and organize,” Turning Point USA has become the industry leader in voter registration on college campuses, and incorporates pop culture to reach new demographics and continually expand its base of young conservatives across college campuses and high schools through the nation.

“Turning Point USA has become the industry leader in voter registration on college campuses”

While Turning Point is just one example of how the conservative social media movement is making huge strides towards turning this country around, it is one of the most effective and organized groups with a wide and influential social media presence.

When asked about the inception of the hashtag #biggovsucks, Crystal Clanton, the National Field Director for Turning Point USA, said:

“Charlie came up with it.  We were all sitting around thinking about some catchphrases we could use to reach millennials and it just came to him. He said, ‘We just need to say that Big Government Sucks. People need to get that.'”

Clanton, who first found out about Turning Point USA on Twitter, also shared:

“[The hashtag] has been very powerful, but the most impactful part has been it’s ability to connect conservative millennials to other people who agree with them. Often times on a liberal campus, students feel like they’re the only ones who believe in freedom and liberty. TPUSA has a network of activists that support each other in their activism, and a lot of that started because of social media friendships.”

“I think the hashtag and our huge social media presence has also allowed students to see that conservatives can and do look like them! We aren’t all the ‘old, white, rich guys’ that we’re made out to me. We’re young, diverse, passionate, and ready to take the country back! Sharing images of what we do on campus helps to convey that message,” said Clanton.

When asked about future plans of TPUSA and its role in the social media movement, Clanton added:

“We want to see it keep growing and expanding! The number one reason we use social media is to reach out to other young people, and that’s what we plan to keep doing.”

“The blueprint for TPUSA is to become the “Organizing for Action” of the right.  Our vision is to build an organized, effective, and well-trained activist network on every college campus (and in every high school) across America.  These networks work 24/7 365 to organize activism events and advocate for limited government,” Clanton further shared.

“I totally see the potential for conservative media to overtake the liberal social media movement. Everyday we get emails from students who found us online and want to get involved. We are building an army that is ready and determined to win the digital war,” said Clanton.

Specially, she believes that Turning Point USA needs to do two things to spread the conservative message.

“First, we need to show people that conservatives look like them,” shared Clanton. “We need to put a face behind the viewpoints and show people that their neighbors, friends, coworkers, etc. can be conservative.  Sometimes the most powerful advocate for the cause is a friend, not a politician.

“Additionally, we need to fight back. We need to get things trending as quickly as the left does. Times are changing, and being able to spread news and opinions through social media is incredibly essential,” she added.

People use the hashtag, so what?

Our generation’s involvement on social media platforms is the key to defining policy in the Republican Party. According to Forbes, over 88% of Twitter users are between the ages of 15-34. This is revealing. With numbers like that, the potential for outreach is incredible.

This is why young conservative groups such as OUTSET – with our #SpeakOut and “What We Believe” campaigns – and Turning Point USA, with its #BigGovSucks and #CapitalismCures hashtags, are so vital to the success of the overall GOP platform.

It is through these social media outreach initiatives that millennials can show the Republican Party what is important to them, not the other way around.

Turning Point USA Booth

Social media is becoming an essential feature of political and civic engagement, not only for millennials, but for Americans as a whole. Apathy and the occasional call to your local Congressman are no longer seen as effective tools to combat the unrelenting tactics of the left.

Social media is providing the platforms for people to communicate with and mobilize communities, discuss and collaborate on ideas that they’re passionate about, and to create the change they want to see, not as hierarchical structures, but as horizontal networks.

We are living in an age where the Progressive war on free thought, the use of “safe zones,” and the frequent cries of “oppression,” from students due to their “need” for intellectual comfort, are making efforts to cripple the conservative movement, with little success.

Big government does suck and we have no choice but to turn the tide of social media in favor of conservative values and to push back against the Progressive wave of influence.

About Lauren Konkol

view all posts

Lauren Rae Konkol is a conservative, Florida-grown Southerner who is passionate about America, sweet tea, and cowboy boots. She is crazy in love with Jesus and is the oldest of ten children. She studies Political Science and Journalism at The University of Central Florida and is the Miami Field Director for Turning Point USA.