Democrats in the Arkansas State Legislature are a dedicated and hard-working group of public servants. Even though they are only part-time legislators, they work hard every day to help their constituents.
However, there is a problem with legislative Democrats, they are not utilizing new and free tools to communicate their message or their various legislative activities. I’m specifically referring to the dramatic non-use of Twitter by Democratic legislators.
Last Friday, I debated via Twitter with a Republican legislator on the topic of minimum wage and noticed other Republican legislators spoke up, but no Democratic legislators. The lack of Democratic response was disconcerting, so I decided to do some research.
In the Arkansas General Assembly, there are a total of 74 Democrats, but I could only find 6 of them on Twitter. On the other hand, I found 23 Republican legislators on Twitter and almost all of them are active users of the medium. You must give credit where credit is due - Republican legislators are effective in pushing out their party’s talking points and getting their messages across.
Here are the six Democratic legislators I found on Twitter:
Rep. Greg Leding – @g
Rep. Linda Tyler – @lindatyler08
Sen. Steve Harrelson – @steveharrelson
Rep. Hudson Hallum – @Hallum4Arkansas
Rep. Kathy Webb – @repkathywebb
Rep. James McLean – @RepJamesMcLean
Unfortunately, not all of the six Democratic legislators on Twitter are active users. Note: If I missed a Democratic legislator on Twitter, please let me know asap and I’ll update this list.
Using Twitter allows legislators to communicate to hundreds, if not thousands, of constituents, media outlets and political insiders on their accomplishments, legislative goals and overall message. It’s also an echo chamber that allows organizations to get their message out through re-tweeting comments and pushing out hot topics.
Democratic legislators are losing the messaging battle by refusing to walk onto the battlefield.
How can you win the war of public opinion if you’re not communicating in important public forums? State Democrats are currently woefully ineffective in creating the messaging echo chamber. To their credit, the Democratic Party of Arkansas does a very effective job via Twitter, but one organization cannot do it alone. While the vast majority of voters are not on Twitter, the opinion leaders are and they’ll pass on information to those who are not online.
Not every Tweet must be earth-shattering political news. If a Democratic legislator had an energetic and fruitful meeting with local business leaders, they should let folks know about it via Twitter. Attending a high school football game in the district? Tell us about it on Twitter because it shows you’re involved in the community.
Every Democratic legislator has a cell phone and a computer, which means every Democratic legislator should be communicating with constituents via Twitter – especially since it’s free.
There’s no reason to not use this free and effective communication tool. It’s time for Democratic legislators to become more effective in communicating their message, increase the size of the "echo chamber" and start using Twitter.
Finally, a quick tip of the hat to key Democrats who do use Twitter:
Mike Beebe – @GovBeebeMedia
Dustin McDaniel – @Dustin_McDaniel
Mike Ross – @RepMikeRoss
Charlie Daniels – @ARAuditor
Democratic Party of Arkansas – @arkdems