Twitter Power Ignored By Claire McCaskill On Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

In recent years, we’ve heard a great deal about the impact of new social media on politics. We’ve been told that social media is bringing people together in networks that are then able to accomplish feats of political activism that would otherwise be impossible.

Such assertions turn out to be half true when it comes to a piece of political organization on Twitter to place pressure Senator Claire McCaskill. An online petition created on Act.ly urged Senator McCaskill to support S. 3065, the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, legislation that included a repeal of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell requires the U.S. military to discriminate against gays and lesbians, firing them regardless of the quality of their work.

The petition read:

“Senator Claire McCaskill: We call on you to co-sponsor the ‘Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2010,’ the Senate bill co-sponsored by Armed Services Committee Chair Sen. Carl Levin that would repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee — the critical legislative body that will determine the fate of repealing DADT — your co-sponsorhip is crucial to this bill’s final passage.”

1,371 Twitter users signed the petition. Claire McCaskill’s staff was notified of the petition through the senator’s official Twitter account. Then… Senator McCaskill completely ignored the petition. McCaskill declined to co-sponsor the Military Readiness Enhancement Act. She didn’t even write the petition’s organizers a message of explanation.

Whether this episode represents a failure of social media or a failure of Claire McCaskill depends upon your perspective.

3 Comments

on “Twitter Power Ignored By Claire McCaskill On Don’t Ask Don’t Tell
3 Comments on “Twitter Power Ignored By Claire McCaskill On Don’t Ask Don’t Tell
  1. Claire McCaskill was quite annoyed by the petition, she tweeted this while she was getting deluged.

    “Warning,if you’re from MO & want to tweet me on any issue, I’d advise waiting till tomorrow.Hard to weed thru many form tweets I’m getting.”

    and then 7:19 PM Mar 8th via web

    Rep. McCaskill: “Oh sure. Everyone is welcome to tweet me. I just make a special effort to read all tweets from Missouri. I work for them.@Okkaiser”

    If you look at the act.ly map, you will see quite a few signers from Missouri. http://act.ly/petitions/2300/map

  2. While the 1st Amendment guarantees the right to petition the government with grievances, it does not provide a guarantee that members of Congress read, or give in to them.

    As with all efforts to mobilize constituents to petition legislators, the legislator has the final say on what to do with the petitions. It is their choice to be a delegate, executing the will of their constituents, or a trustee, exercising their best judgment on behalf of their constituents, once they are elected.

    But as more constituents, both within state/district or, now, national, are able to publicly gather on social media to voice their preferences to legislators, it should be harder for them to take the trustee route over the delegate.

    So far, while many members of Congress are using Twitter and other social media to communicate to their constituents, very few have seriously used it to monitor and engage WITH constituents.

    That day will come, but not yet.

  3. “I just make a special effort to read all tweets from Missouri. I work for them.”

    Um, no. You’re a United States Senator, so you work for the entire United States. You’re just elected by Missourians.

    Senator McCaskill also didn’t sign the letter urging AG Holder not to appeal the DOJ’s loss in Log Cabin Republicans v. Gates. A senator representing my interests would sign that letter, and I told her office as much.

    Clearly she didn’t concur. That’s her prerogative. However, I’m a liberal Missourian with a long memory, and I only support politicians who support me. Like a lot of people, I don’t do “lesser of both evils” anymore.

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