Recently, and not long after President Obama joked at the White House Correspondents Dinner that he was "not the strapping young Muslim socialist (he) used to be," Ohio Representative Marcy Kaptur (D-OH9) tweeted that
"Barack Obama is the worst socialist ever. Dow Touches 15000 on Jobs Data http://t.co/sGa4Es4kAG via @WSJ" (@RepMarcyKaptur)
Eight seconds later, Kaptur deleted her tweet.
But, thanks to the Sunlight Foundation's Politwoops website, the deleted tweet was preserved.
But this is not a post about Politwoops catching politicians deleting tweets, per se, but rather, this post is about the sad timidity in Congress when it comes to bridging partisan divides. While Members seem to have no trouble hurling insults at each other on the chamber floor, they seem a bit more timid on Twitter, especially when it comes to using irony and sarcasm. Kaptur's joke was reasonably funny and it pointed out the truthful irony that the alleged "socialist president" is presiding over the richest stock market ever and a resurging jobs market. And that is a bad record for a socialist.
Additionally, the slowness with which the stock market recovery has trickled down to the jobs market further suggests that policies that are good for the capitalist are not as good for the laborer.
Still, within moments of tweeting a joke that captures all this subtle analysis in less than 140 characters, doubt got the better of @RepMarcyKaptur and the tweet was deleted.
This is sad because when it comes to party disagreement, expressing it with a bit of humor creates a more comfortable space for constructive discussion than the vitriol few in Congress seem to eschew. When tensions are high, humor is a key to diffusing anger and moving forward towards solutions.
If more Members would embrace the boldness of Kaptur's funny tweet, without running away from it as if scared of their own shadow, we might see more real discussions among our elected officials as they work to solve our very real problems.
Social Advocacy & Politics is a weekly, exclusive column for Social Media Today by Alan Rosenblatt that explores the intersection of politics and social media. Look for the next installment on Tuesday morning.