Last week, Freshman Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) took the #FoodStampChallenge. For one week, he fed himself on just $4.80 a day; the amount of benefits provided to people on SNAP food stamps. He lost over 6 pounds last week. The day after the week ended, Murphy hosted a Pancake Breakfast.
Barely ate today so I have enough of my $4.80 left for mac and cheese for dinner #foodstampchallenge- Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) May 24, 2013
Living this wk on $4.80/day food budget. Got on scale this morning - lost 6 lbs in 4 days. #foodstampchallenge- Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) May 24, 2013
From malnutrition living to all-you-can-eat pancakes at a political event, Murphy shows how far apart lawmakers' lives are from the lives of nearly 40 million Americans on Food Stamps. And we got to see it all in real-time, thanks to the Senator's decision to live tweet it all.
Central among our nation's political woes is a profound lack of trust in our government. While some may see this as justified to the extreme, there are certainly things that our government can do to earn more of our trust. Publicly living a bit of the lives that ordinary people live through is one way elected officials can better understand the implications of their legislative proposals. After all, if we value business experience among our politicians, shouldn't we also value their experiences with poverty?
I'd like to see more of our elected officials publicly put themselves into the shoes of the people they represent. And I'd like them to understand that they represent the whole nation, not just their voting constituents. And I'd like them to share their experiences with us.
Using Twitter, Facebook and other social media channels to share these experiences with their voting constituents and the nation at large is good for everyone. The lawmaker gains practical insight into the abstract bills they are considering, while deepening their relationships with the people. The voters get a deeper understanding of their legislator; a deeper connection that will increase their trust in government-their political efficacy. And the nation benefits because Congress becomes more effective and the public becomes more informed and participant.
IT'S WINS ALL AROUND!
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 next Tuesday morning.