After reading Matt Bai’s piece in the New York Times Magazine yesterday, I’d like to explain why I tweet and post here on Tumblr. His thesis is that twitter is banal and superficial and therefore not a good fit within the context of politics and Congressional activity. Of the 100’s of tweets that my thumbs are responsible for, he chose to highlight a reply I made to someone who had asked about my favorite meal at Taco Bell. Admittedly, this is definitely not important stuff.
But – like many in Washington – he misses the point.
First, through Twitter, on a daily basis I post information on a public bulletin board about serious public policy issues. Short and sweet, these messages are intended to drive thought and discussion rather than provide a thorough analysis of the issue.
Second, as his bar graph showed, I tweet an average of 4 to 5 times a day. This has become a welcome discipline for me in Washington. As I am walking to a hearing, or riding the tram over for a vote, I think of what I want to tell the folks at home about my work or life. This, I believe, is a fairly decent way to stay connected. After all, I’m in Washington to work for them and this process reminds me of it several times a day.
Third, I use Twitter because no one can edit me. In a media world driven by an edited sound bite, and a Capitol Hill culture that parses, obfuscates, and works hard at saying nothing, we shouldn’t look down our noses at a few short declarative sentences. While this method of direct communication makes my staff nervous – they think it makes me look less “senatorial” — it is me. I’m a Midwesterner, and this short simple way of speaking is my native tongue.
Finally, it’s fun. Trust me when I tell you that part of the problem in Washington is that folks there take themselves way too seriously. As I tweet about my college basketball team, global warming, my kids, reverse mortgages, music, and tax policy, or as I Tumblr blog about rules of voting on the budget and my creamed spinach recipe, I’m staying connected, grounded, and I have a smile on my face.
Senator McCaskill, a one woman force against every cynical stereotype ever levied against American politics. Imagine, a public official doing something because it’s fun. Actually — I’m fairly certain Michelle Bachman has plenty of fun, involving leather and chains and all the accessories of the publicly repressed. Fight hard to keep that image from your mind.
Orange, Riverside, San Bernadino and San Diego counties, and the entire Central Valley. Plus, Christian Latinos in Los Angeles. And that’s just the political hurdle.