Social media and the Legislature

This issue with Representative Nelson has brought up another issue.

I believe it is great when the legislators interact with the public, unfiltered by the media.

How much should legislators be commenting on blogs and posting to  facebook?

Last summer when the initial issue of Representative Nelson and the LRC and house Leadership came to light, many people commented on the topic, including current members of the executive board, current and past legislators, and many others. Other than a few weird tangents, it was a good discussion. Representatives Hubble and Hickey will post to their facebook page opinions about legislation or events that take place during the session.

How much is too much?

It wasn’t too long ago, they only time we heard from our legislators is during the election cycle.  They would walk the parade route, shake hands, ask for votes, then poof, they’re gone. Two years later you see them again. Letters went unanswered, voice messages were forwarded to the big answering machine in the sky.

Now we have E-mail, IM, tweeter, facebook, text messaging the list goes on.

Some legislators have embraced this new technology to reach out and connect with the public, there are some who still hide from it.

Representative Nelson frequently comments on this blog as well as several others. His comments are very detailed and normally has some kind of documentation to back up his opinions. This makes his posts somewhat tedious to read, however they are complete. Recently, his posts have been less about public policy, and more about this little spat between the leadership and himself. Four years ago, Obama used social media to rally support.

The danger here is we only get one side of the story or partial information. Getting the entire story can be more like pulling hen’s teeth at times.

Another danger is getting legislators to tone down the postings. When one is as passionate about a topic, we can expect passionate, over-zealous statements.

Should legislators use Social Media to voice their opinion?

9 Replies to “Social media and the Legislature”

  1. Caucus on!

    Heard Lance and Stace had a dozen legislators attend the “Conservative Republican Caucus of Convenience,” an unveiled dig at leadership who announced their caucus was “not a caucus of convenience.”

    I’m told their caucus is open to the public, and will be held at 12:30 in Room 464 in the Capitol every day of session from here on out.

  2. springer

    Open to the public!? We always go out to Pierre and listen to the goings on at least once during session, and we’ll be sure to attend the Caucus of Convenience. Hooray for transparency!

  3. springer

    Oh, back on topic, should they use social media to voice their opinion? That genie is out of the bottle and here to stay.

    1. veldy

      Why not? The reader, of course, will have to make the effort to determine facts of matter vs opinion, but the more informed the electorate is, the better.

  4. anooner

    Questions: “How much should legislators be commenting on blogs and posting to facebook?”

    Answer: Less than Nelson does.

  5. The Watcher

    Certainly more than Val Rauch does. (the keep it all a secret leader)
    Who tells the truth to the media months later–Talk about the flip flop–“NO i didn’t move him from the Ag committee because he was going to call for an investigation into the behavior of the Ag Secretary” —- Several months later– “Yes, I did move him off of the Ag Committee because he had a dispute with the Ag Secretary.” (It kinda smacks of liar liar doesn’t it?)

    1. troy jones

      Not necessarily. The dispute could be a matter of policy (e.g. the dairy) or it could be personal (e.g. an unwillingness to play nice with others).

      The serious accusation without all the facts smacks of rash judgement and calumny.

      Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury.

      Rash judgment is the assumption, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor. Calumny is making remarks contrary to the truth that harm the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.

      To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way.

      On all sides, I think reflecting on this would be good. Members of the Leadership, Members of the new caucus, Republicans, Democrats, liberals and conservatives.