Commentary: Statehouse social media


By Abdul Hakim-Shabazz

A week or so ago, Republican State Sen. Mike Delph of Carmel talked about his “tweet heard around the world.”  He sent out a Twitter

Abdul Hakim-Shabazz is an attorney and the editor and publisher of IndyPoltics.Org.

Abdul Hakim-Shabazz is an attorney and the editor and publisher of IndyPoltics.Org.

message that there were not enough votes in the Senate caucus to restore the second sentence banning civil unions into HJR-3, the marriage amendment. Delph had broken the cardinal rule that what is said in Senate caucus stays there. A couple Commentary button in JPG - no shadowhundred twitter posts and a few days later Delph found himself stripped of Senate leadership position, no press secretary and stuck on the far side of the chamber surrounded by Democrats.

More recently in the Statehouse an amendment was added to a bill that would have allowed state contractors to discriminate based on religion.  No one would have noticed anything until it broke out on social media.  Within 24 hours the bill was sent back to committee and the amendment was removed.

And there’s no need to go back to the 2012 U.S. Senate race and the infamous “rape” comment which spread like wildfire, mostly due to Twitter and Facebook.

So what am I getting at?

Social media aren’t just for posting pictures of your kid’s soccer or basketball game.  You can do a lot more on Twitter than tell everyone you’re standing in line to see the new Lego movie.  (Which I did tweet was “totally awesome” after I saw it.)  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, You Tube, blogs, you name it.  What once seemed like the sole purview of teenagers and 20-somethings to waste valuable time talking about absolutely nothing has become a very valuable asset in the world of politics and if you don’t know how to use it, you lose it.

For example, during the debate over House Joint Resolution 3, there was a group called “Young Hoosiers for Marriage” who supported traditional marriage.  About 100 of them held a rally at the statehouse showing their support for the amendment and wanting lawmakers to restore the second sentence. What they didn’t do was made sure they owned the internet domain name “Young Hoosiers for Marriage” because when you typed it in on the web, it took you straight to Freedom Indiana’s web page. Freedom Indiana was the group opposing HJR 3.  And to add insult to injury, with 10 minutes after “Young Hoosiers for Marriage” was announced there was a Facebook all set up by opponents of HJR 3 saying what a bad idea the second sentence was.   You may not like, but you have to respect it.

As I said, social media can be a very powerful tool which can easily make or break a candidate or an issue.  A political career can easily come to an end if you catch the right candidate doing the wrong thing at the right time.  Smart political operations not only master the art of social media by knowing how to properly get out information, but they also know how to monitor it.  And if you are smart and monitoring, or to use a technical term “following,”  a reporter’s Twitter account many times you can figure out where the reporters’s going with a particular story and know how to either do damage control or enhance your own political profile.

As the old saying goes, “politics ain’t no bean bag” and social media has made it a lot more fun and a lot more complicated.  By the way, you can follow me on Twitter at either AttyAbdul or IndyPoliticsOrg.   You’ll be doing yourself a big favor. Trust me on that one.

Abdul is an attorney and the editor and publisher of IndyPoltics.Org. He is also a frequent contributor to numerous Indiana media outlets. He can be reached at


  1. Abdul is fairly new to me, but I like his style and perspective. I remember when if someone was said to be twittering, it meant they were having mental issues.

    Hmmm. Now that i waste time thinking about it,I don’t believe the meaning has really changed.

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