Who’s the “best member of Congress on social media”? According to this year’s Shorty Awards, it’s Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who has more than 109,000 likes on Facebook, 93,000 followers on Twitter, and more than half a million people in his Google+ circle.
“Social media provide a very important mechanism to communicate directly with people about issues that often don’t get the attention they deserve by the mainstream media,” Sanders said in a statement about his honor. “We have seen, for example, lively and smart conversations on my Facebook, Twitter and Google+ pages on issues like the collapsing middle class, growing income and wealth disparity, increased poverty in our country and the lack of adequate health and dental care.”
No doubt that Sanders is still riding the crest from his 2010 #Filibernie, where he railed for 8.5 hours against President Obama’s tax-cut compromise while journalists of all stripes wondered how his bladder was holding up.
But most of the tweets are from Bernie’s staff, not the senator himself (those done by the senator are tagged with a -B). If a congressman-staff-run account was the best choice for the award, you can’t discount Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who basically announced that his Oversight chairmanship would be a game-changer when he turned his avatar to a stick-figure cop in front of the Capitol dome. The chairman is a whiz at doing it well: stoking awareness of bills on the floor, keeping issues such as Fast & Furious alive and kicking, acknowledging followers and retweeting.
Personally, though, I’m partial to the Congress members who tweet on their own, no matter the subject matter. Yeah, we all know how that ended for former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.). But Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) set Twitter afire when he tweeted about accidentally setting his pants on fire in 2009. He regularly blasts the History Channel for not showing history shows anymore and occasionally bawls out those who criticize his pubescent tweeting skills: “Quit complaining abt my Twitter shorthand I know how to spell But Twitter limit is 120 characters” (he later thanked tipsters who told him there are actually 20 more characters than that). And let’s not forget words of wisdom: “Evrybody asking how Romney’relates’to avg person Me thinks’no problem’ but if so I hv answer ‘just lv starch out of shirt'”
God, I love Chuck.
On the other side of the aisle, there’s Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), who tweets during the State of the Union and — my favorite — advised everyone to make some tuna noodle surprise for the Occupiers: “I bet the occupy folks would enjoy your hot dish casserole – especially as it gets cold.” As it gets cold outside, or are we giving them cold leftovers?