Politicians have been devising ways to communicate with the public and reach out to their constituencies since the inception of the democratic system. And while each form of new media has given legislators more opportunities to communicate their manifold messages, the communiqué has often been filtered through reporters and the discourse has been decidedly one-sided. Social media, unlike any previous innovation, has fundamentally changed the way voters glean information about public officials. Not only do candidates now have unbridled access to the electorate, but social media also offers voters a way to voice their opinions in an open forum.
Traditionally, a candidate needed to take out ad space in order to deliver a message that wasn’t filtered through a journalist, and aside from an op-ed piece, there was little opportunity for conversation or to gauge the public response. With social media, however, there is no intermediary or barriers of communication. Politicians now have the capacity to justify why they voted for a piece of legislation, elected a certain cabinet member or any other decision in their own words—and voters have the chance to respond. (more…)