My cynical side believes that the increase in the Kansas minimum wage finally passed this year in large part because legislators wanted to appear to do something good for people in poverty in a budget year when they were going to make fairly drastic cuts in social services, education, and health care. After all, relatively few workers earn the state minimum wage, and there was not much strong opposition from organized business interests.
Still, it was a significant success after years of unsuccessful advocacy on this issue, and it’s also significant that the breakthrough came with new strategies for organizing progressive activists. And it suggests that Twitter and Facebook, in particular, hold real promise for reenergizing flagging campaigns, mobilizing supporters to take unprecedented action, and providing the critical difference, in terms of amount and type of advocacy, that can push an issue over the hump. I like the fact that the organizer in this story is clear that social networking applications are only one tool to assist us in accomplishing the core task of any organizing campaign–connecting with people around an issue they care about–but that they can be an innovative and successful part of an advocacy strategy.
If you’ve used Facebook, Twitter, or other social networking tools in your policy advocacy work, please share your story. If you were involved in the campaign to raise the Kansas minimum wage, did you connect via social networking? Did you find those tools helpful?