The Evolving Nature and Style of Representation

Rep. Albert Gore, Jr. of Tennessee was the first to speak when the U.S. House of Representatives first began live, televised debate on the House Floor in 1979. “It is a solution for the lack of confidence in government,” Congressman Gore said, alluding to the public’s post-Watergate demand for a more transparent government. “The marriage of this medium and of our open debate has the potential, Mr. Speaker, to revitalize representative democracy.”

2013-10-27-socialmediaiconsToday, we are in the midst of another media revolution: text, email, websites, wikis, blogs, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google+, Foursquare, Quora, RSS Feeds, Instagram, Vine… today, the Internet is social, interactive, and collaborative. Nonetheless, it’s possible that Representative Gore’s comment from 1979 has implications for us today – as we consider ways that social media shape legislators’ evolving relationships with their constituents. With today’s assignment in mind, please share your opinion on the question below:

What impact should social media have on the way legislators represent their constituents as trustees and delegates today?

About Dr. Ostroff
Head of Upper School at The Emery/Weiner School in Houston, TX

161 Responses to The Evolving Nature and Style of Representation

  1. govhannahb says:

    The impact social media should have on the way legislators represent their constituents as trustees and delegates today shouldn’t matter as much. I say this because internet is full of opinions and not so much full of facts. Yes you can look up a certain question and you will get an answer. However, when it comes to a broad subject the likely hood of you getting a correct answer is very unlikely. Social media is full of opinions and lies, now while these lies may be told the person telling them might not know all the facts about the subject they are speaking on. So social media does have a major impact on he way legislators represent their constituents as trustees and delegates today but we need to take inconsideration that everything we read and see is probably taken out of context and fixed to what someone else wants us to see.

  2. Michael Williams says:

    Social media should have a big impact to tell the will of the people. The problem is undercover and Internet confidence. Internet confidence is when people gain confidence and say things they wouldn’t say in person because there is no physical threat. Social media should help voice our opinions better but the opinions is often skewed to one side because not everyone has a account and voiced their opinions.

  3. jmorton14 says:

    The major use of the internet and other social devises connected with it for Legislator would be to delegate the opinions of the people and connect it to the actions taken to make change. I dont think that the internet would be the best way to gain this information though, because it would be extremely cloudy and could possible push wrong impressions the the body that represents the general public.

  4. pinto56 says:

    I believe that media should impact our legislators in a positive light instead of a negative. The legislators are trying their best to do what the people want to happen if they believe in the Delegate Model of Representation. The media focuses a lot on the negative instead of the positives that the legislators are doing in the big house.

  5. codyw2014 says:

    Social media has become an integrated part of our every day lives. Millions of people post on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and millions more watch the nightly news. America runs off technology and communication which I think has unified us a country by giving us access to each other. The internet can be tricky though because people are easily influenced and now there’s a simple way to do it. It shouldn’t effect trustees because they’ll do what they think is best regardless, but delegates now have access to the people’s opinions so it should make it easier for follow their will.

  6. govellieh says:

    Representatives have a huge resource in front of them that they haven’t had in years previous. Social media provides them with their constituents’ opinions in the palm of their hands. This is a resource that I don’t feel should be ignored. It is especially valuable to a delegate representative because social media acts as a megaphone for the voices that they are attempting to communicate themselves. Legislators should use this asset for what it is, while taking into consideration that social media has a tendency to amplify certain voices to instigate reactions, and it is also a forum where people are not required to have any prior knowledge or qualifications.

  7. bstimson1 says:

    Legislators should be able to use social media for their own advantages while representing their constituents. In the past, voters have consisted more of the older generations who would take the time out of their day to watch the news and see what was going on in politics. With modern technology and apps such as CNN and Fox News, it makes it easier for young adults to find the information at a faster speed. Legislators can also connect to the people through social media such as Facebook and Twitter. A trustee or delegate could make a tweet asking the public’s opinion on a certain matter and would be able to get thousands of responses from his or her followers. They can also keep the people up to date on matters that are happening, making the connection much closer than it has ever been before.

  8. sydneys14 says:

    Discussing the usage of social media with in politics seems logical, seeing as social media is purposed to be “the interaction among people in which they create, share, or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks”. Using the fastest way available to reach the most people available seems the most logical thing to inform people of updates and information they need. Things can get blown out of proportion on these highly interactive platforms but they also give politicians a way to find out the people’s opinions in order to give them a way to be both a delegate and a trustee, depending on how much personal opinion and outlook they decide to input. If they do decide to use the trustee model in their decisions of representing the people, they can use social media to display their decisions as well.

  9. abbyggov14 says:

    I believe legislators should both use and ignore social media. They should use social media to let their voice be heard and first handedly get their message out with no “buffer” distorting their message. At the same time, they should ignore most of what is being said about them on social media because most people are there to bash them and tear their morals down. As we already know, social media can be both a positive and negative tool and they should take advantage of the positives and allow their voice to be heard but also ignore what the uneducated people are saying about them.

  10. 14cooke says:

    As communication changes, so must the ways that our political leaders express themselves. The internet is a cold cold place with a lot of rumors and misconstrued political blog pieces. In order to navigate this vast pit of knowledge… One needs to be educated about misinformation and how to investigate a clear answer. So many people use the internet and the fact that most of them see a blog post and believe it instead of search a news site is scary. Internet can be very powerful. I believe that if you have a predetermined political party, you’re more likely to believe opposite-party false-propoganda right off the bat, rather than be a questioning citizen. A great way that legislators DO use it (in a benefiting way), on Twitter. They can share information about themselves on officialized accounts. The internet is super tricky, and legislators need to be incredibly careful. “With great power comes great responsibility” (Spider Man)

  11. Emily M. says:

    I feel like representatives should take advantage of the technology accessible to them, especially up and coming social media outlets. Even while there are so many positive outcomes to using technology, there are negative effects also. With such an open database of knowledge and access, anyone can “get the scoop” on a politician or stories can be spread around the internet that are false. While social media brings the public closer to legislature and politics, it can also be a major downfall for some members of a political group. Just like with everything, there are ups and downs.

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