The Facebook group Pantsuit Nation, which went viral in 2016 as a protected haven for Hillary Clinton supporters, is abruptly shutting down.
The information took the group’s members and moderators abruptly. But in 2019, Pantsuit Nation grew to become part of Supermajority, a membership-based group that helps girls advocate for themselves and their communities. It was not under the direct management of its founder Libby Chamberlain.
On Thursday, Taylor Salditch, Supermajority’s interim executive director, announced that the group would start “pausing” any new posts, feedback, and reactions, beginning March 18. The transfer successfully shuts down the two.9 million-member group.
Salditch said Supermajority would as a substitute be specializing in partaking younger girls in key states to win upcoming elections, together with the 2024 presidential race. Supermajority had been paying contract moderators to keep Pantsuit Nation operating.
“We know that it will take a laser focus on our core work and are prioritizing our time, talent and resources to achieve that outcome,” wrote Salditch.
Salditch’s post has since garnered more than 1,500 feedback, lots of them vital of the choice, calling it “short sighted,” “terrible,” and a “huge miscalculation.”
In response to Mashable’s request for additional information about why Supermajority determined to shutter the group, Salditch despatched a model of her Facebook post however provided no additional information:
“Over the past several weeks and months, we have taken stock of our work, particularly focusing on our success in 2022, and developed a strategic approach to best position Supermajority to build women’s political power into 2024. We are focusing on engaging young women voters, both white women and women of color, in key states to increase turnout and win elections and policies that enable women and their families to thrive. We know that it will take a laser focus on our core work and are prioritizing our time, talent and resources to achieve that outcome.
“Supermajority has determined to pause the continuing administration of the Pantsuit Nation x Supermajority Facebook web page on March 18. Pantsuit Nation has at all times been a lot more than an homage to sharp trousers and the management of 1 girl; this group grew right into a community of connection, knowledge sharing, and mobilizing due to every member.
“What does this mean? We are pausing any new posts, comments and reactions on the page. Community members will continue to have access to years worth of shared stories to revisit, and they will continue to be an invaluable part of the Supermajority community. We like to think of this channel as a time capsule that spans a historic and tumultuous 7+ year time in our country’s history.
“When I used to be engaged on the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016, understanding that this area was created the place people may have fun, commiserate and arrange collectively was a brilliant gentle in an in any other case darkish time. Pantsuit Nation x Supermajority created a community that impressed strangers to share their tales and hopes for the longer term. Those conversations sparked friendships, educated new activists, organized community conferences and a lot more. The group could also be paused however the spirit (in addition to the reminiscences in this group) stay!”
Some of the group’s moderators, who were suddenly laid off effective Friday, started a new Facebook group called Our Nation, which has already attracted tens of thousands of followers.
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Yet, will probably be not possible to duplicate Pantsuit Nation’s distinctive origin story.
In the final weeks of the 2016 election, Chamberlain began the group as a spot to precise unabashed help for Clinton at a time when that felt uncommon. She invited a couple of dozen associates to put on pantsuits after they voted for Clinton. Those associates invited their associates. Within weeks, Pantsuit Nation had a membership of 1 million people.
“[Pantsuit Nation] is not a place to convince anyone how great she is,” Chamberlain told Mashable on the time. “It’s a place to celebrate how great she is.”
The reward also gave way to storytelling and organizing. Members shared heartfelt private experiences about topics like emigrating to the United States, looking for abortion care, popping out to conservative family members, and more. These tales may spark controversial and even offensive discussions about race, faith, sexuality, gender id, and incapacity, and a few activists remained skeptical of the group.
Yet posts also continuously prompted conversations about methods to elevate cash for numerous causes, methods to be a greater ally, methods to protest, and methods to advocate for sure items of state and federal laws. Members in conservative states typically said the group helped them really feel much less politically alone.
In a post responding to the choice, Chamberlain thanked the group for making it doable to compensate the group’s moderators however also pointed to efforts to keep Pantsuit Nation going.
“I’m disappointed at this decision, but it’s not mine to make,” she wrote. “If you look around the community today you’ll see some of our passionate and loyal moderators are fighting to keep the group alive.”
Chamberlain, who previously served as head of community for Supermajority, told Mashable in an email that she’s “proud and excited” to see the group’s state-based turnout technique yield “crucial wins for women across the country.” She added that she understood why Pantsuit Nation’s “story-based, international community” may really feel tangential to Supermajority’s electoral technique.
While Facebook teams might be highly effective engines of connection and organizing, they usually require extremely energetic moderation for a high-quality experience. A volunteer-run operation can turn into beset by burnout. At the same time, it may be troublesome to persuade funders that moderation for a Facebook group ought to compete with assets for efforts like microtargeting voters in swing states resembling Wisconsin and Arizona, for instance. Though Pantsuit Nation may energize and mobilize teams of feminine and female-identifying voters, its attain is not granular, and the consequences are onerous to quantify.
But as Supermajority swiftly found, Pantsuit Nation’s loyal members appeared to see the choice as about a lot more than a strategic tradeoff. Chamberlain said in an email that she was unhappy nobody else would have the ability to share their story in Pantsuit Nation.
“I also think that we need all hands on deck and all resources available to tackle threats to our democracy, particularly as we approach the 2024 election,” she wrote. “I strongly believe that Pantsuit Nation has a role to play, and so my hope is that Supermajority will consider giving us a chance to make that happen.”