LATISM at the State of the Union Speech

Inside the SOTU

Last night, I had the honor of being invited to attend the White House Tweetup for the State of the Union Address. Politics aside, being able to take part in an event of such monumental national importance was undoubtedly an exciting experience. At a time when so much is at stake for our community this year, and the upcoming elections have turned Latinos into a prime block to court, I couldn’t wait to hear where our community would fall within the larger plans the President put together for the country. And I was certainly not alone.

The real excitement played out in the online conversation that accompanied the speech, to the tune of over 645,631 tweets being sent out during the speech! [As a matter of fact, the #SOTU conversation is still going on as we speak.]

While so-called ‘social TV’, watching current events together has become de facto behavior for social media adepts, one cannot argue with the fact that this is THE one event that truly maximizes the strength of social media and its applications for civic engagement. It’s official: the game has changed, as the medium offers a real time glimpse at the fleeting gut reactions of those watching, their feelings about what’s being said [and not said], and a peek into possible outcomes at election time. No longer do we have to wait for the next day newspaper or the droll, rehashed commentary of media pundits: in social media, we are all pundits.

As expected, the online world was all ‘a-Twitter’, and we Latinos definitely made our presence felt in the SOTU conversation, as evident in some of the night’s comments on the LATISM thread:

I was able to record some excerpts from the Q&A in the video below [pardon the shaky-cam], thanks to the folks from the White House Office of Engagement, especially White House New Media Director Macon Phillips (@macon44, whom you might remember from his participation in the Civic Engagement session at our LATISM 11 Conference] and White House Deputy Director for the Office of Public Engagement, Anne Filipic, who moderated the Q&A to include Google+, Twitter, and Facebook contributions.

I also had the chance to ask the Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan a question that came from the online community. [p.s. Watch for another Tweetchat with Secretary Duncan with our LATISM community, coming up really soon!]

For us Latinos – the hardest hit constituency in essentially every major issue touched by President Obama last night, from job creation, to reforming the education system and improving access to health insurance to immigration reform and the Dream Act – this ability to express our concerns and reactions to the speech is of paramount importance. We have so much to contribute and much to gain from the President’s proposals. I, for one, was glad to hear the President put some pressure on Congress to reach a bipartisan consensus in order to move the country forward.

The key now will be for the President and Congress to move into ACTION. Between now and November 2012, you can bet we will all be out here watching… AND tweeting.

How about you? What were your impressions on the State of the Union address? What issues do you wish had been part of the speech? Was the messaging effective overall? Let us know in the comments!

All videos and pictures are © Elianne Ramos.




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