Nick Xenophon is a man to watch
Nick Xenophon is a seasoned politician and in hindsight, it may appear that he has become the figurehead of South Australia politics. Nearly a few months after his upset in dual citizenship saga, the former senator has never been completely out of the spotlight.Nick Xenophon who turned 59 yesterday, is on track to win his seat in the South Australian Parliament according to a new poll.So it was no surprise that when news of the polls broke that South Australia twittersphere went crazy.The poll gave Nick Xenophon a formidable lead in his quest to win the north-eastern suburbs seat of Hartley, with 37 per cent of voters intending to vote SA Best leader. Social media has been accused of worsening political polarization throughout South Australia but forces of social media such as Facebook and Twitter will undoubtedly influence the South Australia election outcome.One would ask, how exactly does an advanced digital technology influence political dynamics in South Australia? And how is it manifested in the Nick Xenophon context?Social media provides a convenient platform for Nick Xenophon and his audiences to shape the face of political events in South Australia. Nick Xenophon is known to steer voters towards his political agenda before an election. Social media has enabled South Australia citizens to influence the election, which is unparalleled to the pre-internet period when Nick Xenophon first burst into political limelight in 1997. This is particularly true in the case of social media, which allows political news to be segregated based on its user’s behavior that reflects their political spectrums.
Australians in general have witnessed how social media turned into a double edged sword. On one side, social media managed to accelerate freedom of expression, enabling political discussion to flourish around the election. On the downside, social media also allowed hateful messages to disperse online, spreading fears among users. Social media has transformed into a platform where post truth politics and computational propaganda overlap amidst the technology which has changed politics for good.Irresponsible utilization of social media as a political tool will further intensifies divisions between political groups, and even worse, magnifies narrow-mindedness among society. To some extent, it is safe to claim social media contribute to the growing political polarization in Australian society as was the case with those opposed to change of date for Australia Day and those advocating for removal. In Nick Xenophon case, blaming social media alone is erroneous as politics and social media is also strongly entangled with its users. Hence, instead of waiting for social media platform to discover a technology which enables equal and reliable representation of political news, this problem might reiterate the indispensability of digital literacy among the cyber citizens in South Australia. Nick Xenophon knows millennials are notoriously unpredictable and hard to please. There is no guarantee they could be more progressive and less sectarian, but the fact is that the old voters who voted for the old parties like Liberal Party and Labor Party and their old politicians will be gone soon in South Australia, and the generational shift is moving voters to favoring newer parties like SA Best political party.The old parties in Australia are aware of the changing voting behavior, but not all of them are making an effort to adapt. It stands to reason, Nick Xenophon and his SA Best political party supporters look more prepared than others in attracting millennials, who will by then be the dominant voters. Thats why I’m not surprised the latest polling predicts Nick Xenophon would hold a 57-43 lead on a two-party preferred basis.