Gavin Newsom tells SF State: use social media for democracy

Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom gives a speech on his new book "Citizenville" in the SF State J. Paul Leonard Library on Thursday, May 9, 2013. Photo by Frank Leal/Xpress

Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom gives a speech on his new book "Citizenville" in the SF State J. Paul Leonard Library on Thursday, May 9, 2013. Photo by Frank Leal/Xpress

Social media has created a platform for communication unlike one that has ever existed before and, according to Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, that platform can be honed to help the current government structure to evolve.

Today Newsom addressed a hall full of students, teachers and administrators at the J. Paul Leonard Library at SF State, moderated by the Institute of Civic and Community Engagement chair Dr. Gerald Eisman, to discuss the content of his new book “Citizenville: How to Take the Town Square Digital and Reinvent Government.”

The book elaborates on methods of applying Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and other forms of social media to “dissolve political gridlock” on the government level.

Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom's new book "Citizenville" is presented to students in the SF State J. Paul Leonard Library on Thursday, May 9, 2013. Photo by Frank Leal/Xpress

Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom's new book "Citizenville" is presented to students in the SF State J. Paul Leonard Library on Thursday, May 9, 2013. Photo by Frank Leal/Xpress

“I got inspired, I imagine like a lot of you, in 2008 by Obama’s campaign. It was a mesmerizing campaign a two-way conversation where you really felt like you were really part of a movement,” said Newsom describing how constituents came together across social media platforms to rally support. “And that course culminated on that election day in November with that historic election.”

The constant innovation of mobile applications has shown that there is a push to customize obligations of the daily grind and according to Newsom, that innovation has failed to reach the government level.

“The government is in a collision course with the future—it is no longer connected,” said Newsom.

Speaking directly to the students, Newsom emphasized that the Millennial generation has a particular advantage on the social media front because it was raised learning to incorporate the technology into daily problem-solving.

Suria Sadat, a 22-year-old senior political science major, was urged to attend the discussion by her urban politics professor. She found Newsom’s frankness about the flaws in the democratic system refreshing.

“He didn’t seem to have much faith in the processes of our government,” said Sadat. “But ensured (that) he had faith in us, our generation, which seemed genuine and eloquently portrayed.”

Newsom’s book release and stirring discussion has come advantageously before the 2014 election cycle. His appeal to students to take charge of political discourse transcends this single election.

“(Social media) is a tool to cultivate, engage and connect the people in unprecedented ways,” said Newsom. We don’t want guys like me on top anymore, but all of you on top. Real active participatory democracy. Recapturing your voice after the election, making you feel part of your neighborhood your community your state and your world.”

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  • nice work Lisa!