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Provincial/State Governments and Social Media Warfare

Most countries have some form of provincial or state government structure that leaves much of the day-to-day administration and management of non-federal activities to that level of government. In the United States, most people have more daily contact with their state or local governments than with the federal government. Each state has its own written constitution, and those documents are often far more elaborate than their federal counterpart.

Under the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, all powers not granted to the federal government are reserved for the states and the people. All state governments are modeled after the federal government and consist of three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. The states have an executive branch that is headed by an elected governor. In most states, the other leaders in the executive branch are also directly elected, including the lieutenant governor, the attorney general, the secretary of state, and auditors and commissioners.

No two state executive organizations are identical. All 50 states have legislatures made up of elected representatives, who consider matters brought forth by the governor or introduced by its members to create legislation that becomes law. The legislature also approves a state’s budget and initiates tax legislation and articles of impeachment. State judicial branches are usually led by the state supreme court, which hears appeals from lower-level state courts. Court structures and judicial appointments/elections are determined either by legislation or the state constitution [15].

This sounds good, but in many cases, it is not. Many states focus on regulating morals and are guilty of supporting discriminatory practices against people of color, women, and those with different gender preferences in romantic, family, and sexual relationships. Many states also have long-held policies that stifle voting privileges, disadvantage the poor, discriminate against people who speak languages other than America English and against people that do not follow “mainstream” religions or are not of “mainstream” ancestry. There is an ugly history which many of those in power at the state level either ignore or just pretend never happened. It is the federal government and the United States Constitution that protect the rights and freedoms of individuals against the oppression of state governments that have continuously demonstrated a willingness to violate federal law if they can get away with doing so. The federal government has had to intervene, on behalf of individuals and groups of citizens, many times in the past to end state and local government oppression and exploitation.

States also have various levels of sophistication when it comes to digital government. Although each state is able to participate in a variety of social media warfare tactics, including validation, influence, reinforcement, persuasion, recruitment and indoctrination, and relationship building, few do it very well. It is generally the more populated states with larger budgets that leverage social media warfare tactics.

Much of the activity created by social cause movements and protests occurs in the states, and state and local governments are on the frontline of protecting or harassing demonstrators and picketers. Unfortunately, there is a great deal of mistreatment of protesters by state and local authorities, as was obvious in Ferguson, Missouri, during protests that took place after a police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager. These situations are explored more in-depth in Chapter 7: “Social Media Warfare for Support of Social Causes.”

Other social causes are also hindered by state governments, including voter rights and abortion rights in states dominated by the conservatives who attempt to impose their archaic social values on others. This was clearly demonstrated over the last few years as states attempted to deprive women of health care and safe abortions. Interestingly, many states have wasted tens of millions of dollars, if not hundreds of millions of dollars, on anti-abortion efforts that have had only modest results. To counter the states, the pro-planned parenthood movement used social media warfare tactics extremely well. From the strife caused by the conservative right, a new unity and awareness of the need for abortion rights blossomed across the nation and around the world. This is also discussed in Chapter 5: “Special Interest Groups’ Use of Social Media as a Weapon.”

Fortunately for the citizens of the United States, federal law protects people’s freedom and rights; if not for this, the states would run all over the citizenry. In addition, organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center, monitor hate groups and other extremist organizations throughout the country and expose their activities to law enforcement agencies, the media, and the public. The Southern Poverty Law Center also works to teach tolerance and fight injustice, and much of that activity is in response to oppressive laws and police actions at the state and local level. It uses social media warfare strategies to help accomplish these missions.

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