Since falling head over stilettos with Twitter, it’s a known fact I strongly advocate open government and increasing government transparency (especially via social media).
But tweets, Facebook posts, and Youtube videos alone obviously aren’t enough. Government transparency begins with the most simple of principles: always tell the truth. Sometimes the truth isn’t always the prettiest thing in the room, but it takes someone with integrity and a strong moral compass to do the right thing.
Over the last two years, I’ve observed several politicians and candidates across this state and across this nation in regard to their stand on open government. Some are pretty disappointing… but with West Virginia’s 2011 special gubernatorial election, one candidate stands out from the pack with a strong record on increasing government transparency: Jeff Kessler.
The social media enthusiast that I am, I started wondering about how to continue improving constituent connections over the next five years here in wild, wonderful West Virginia. Yes, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare, MeetUp, etc… all play a significant role, but there is something even bigger I believe we need to focus more efforts on: mobile government.
Also called mGovernment, mobile government is an extension of online government connections to mobile platforms and the tactical use of these applications which are only possible using mobile phones, iPads, laptops, and any other devices that utilize wireless infrastructure. mGovernment can assist with making public information and other governmental services available to citizens anytime, any place, and the ubiquity of mobile devices mandates their employment in government functions, e.g. a mass text in an emergency, like a gas leak. However, several government agencies and public sector organizations are hesitant to adopt mGovernment. Why? Because experimenting with these technologies in the public sector is far more risky than the private sector.
What does the term “PC” mean to you? Politically correct? Wrong! “PC” means POLITICALLY CONNECTED! How connected are you to your constituents? The number one way to get real feedback and converse with the folks who elected you is through SOCIAL MEDIA!
The number one fail in political social media right now, and I don’t mean to be harsh, is @JoeManchinWV. The man who made me fall in love with politics isn’t following a soul on Twitter. I spoke with Senator Oliverio (Mike_Oliverio) last night, a future U.S. House of Reps member, and mentioned he might want to change his Facebook picture. Delegate Doug Skaff (dougskaff) asked me how much he should tweet.
With the youngest and sexiest United States Senator in office right now, West Virginia politicians need to know how to better utilize social media (or new media, whichever), to communicate with their constituents. Goodwin doesn’t even have a Twitter account.
The most recent political social media development in West Virginia, in my opinion, has been Speaker Thompson (@RT4WV) using his Facebook page to post statements regarding his views about what’s going on at the Legislature (@wvlegislature). Mannix Porterfield, a reporter, even asked the Speaker a question on his page and Thompson replied! He’s effectively using social media to communicate with both the media and constituents.
So all you politicians in the great state of West Virginia and across the United States, when you’re ready for my class on political social media, give me a call, 304.993.8464.
“Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.” -President Obama, 1/21/09
After reading a past Charleston Gazette (@wvgazette) article by Kate Long, it is extremely evident that this openness is exactly what West Virginia government is lacking. House of Delegates (@wvhouse) member Nancy Peoples Guthrie (@nguthrie4me), who is the chairwoman of the House stimulus committee, said, “There’s no reason for this to be cloaked in secrecy… it’s gotten beyond the point where ‘trust us’ is a sufficient answer.” (See full article here: http://www.wvgazette.com/News/201008100756)
As an advocate of social media being a connection vehicle for politicians and their constituents, I’m alarmed I just might need to take my stilettos two steps back before taking another step forward. It appears elected officials from different branches of government need to be more social and communicative with each other. Long’s article clearly points out the lack of information sharing from the executive branch to the legislative branch.