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Politics

The Politicians Need to Log Off

They seem to have forgotten that their job is to, what's that concept.....oh right, DO STUFF.

I am here with a simple request: enough with the politician tweets. They are crazy-making.

Before you tell me that politicians have to be on Twitter, that online life is real life, that it’s an essential feature of modern political communication, look at Trump, etc., yes, I know all of these things. It is inevitable that political types will be sharing their thoughts on Twitter sometimes. But that doesn’t mean that a) I have to enjoy it and b) it makes them look good. It doesn’t! Far more often, it makes them look cynical and ineffectual, like people who have forgotten that their primary function is not to tweet hollow statements at us but is rather to…what’s that concept I’m looking for…actually do stuff?

I’m going to restrict myself in this post to Democratic politicians because Republican politicians are obviously crackpots who deserve to have their Twitter passwords taken away from them. Their tweets suck because they are all complete loons. Democrats, though, are annoying in their own special ways. Roughly speaking, they fall into two categories.

The first, and more straightforwardly irksome, are the politicians who tweet like they’re the world’s dullest MSNBC contributors instead of, y’know, very prominent elected officials who help control a vast portion of our lives. I’ve previously discussed Sen. Brian Schatz’s penchant for this style of tweet, and he is still at it.

Wow, big talk here. Way to tell the “pollsters” (?) who’s boss, literal senator Brian Schatz. Don’t you have a committee hearing to prep for?

These kinds of politicians have convinced themselves that behaving like a random too-online poster is the key to a deep connection with the people, and to victory. But it mostly just makes them look craven and hacky. Take this tweet from Rep. Eric Swalwell:

Ouch! You are a member of Congress and you’re out here trolling for RTs? Have some self-respect. Or this, from Rep. Ted Lieu, another habitual offender.

….OK????

These people are just embarrassing idiot types. But there is a more pernicious variety of Democratic tweet. It happens when politicians trot out scripted stump speech pablum about the cool policies they’d definitely love to enact, as if we’d forget that they are the very people with the power to enact them. There have been a ton of these kinds of tweets lately thanks to the seemingly interminable negotiations surrounding the Build Back Better Act, the ever-shrinking social spending bill currently being torn to smithereens by the party. Here’s progressive leader Pramila Jayapal:

Uh, Rep. Jayapal, can I simply note that you are currently a key player in intensive discussions to water down essentially all of these proposals? The heart of the climate policy in the bill has been gutted, Medicare expansion is on the chopping block, paid leave has been drastically watered down, a pathway to citizenship hasn’t been on the table for weeks—I could go on! This is before you even get into the fact that the actual policies being discussed around things like paid leave and childcare appear to be terrible ones. Jayapal surely knows all of this, but she’s still content to tweet tired statements about how it would be good to do good stuff. (Also, notice the very deliberately vague use of “invest” in that tweet—invest what exactly???)

Jayapal is far from alone here. Sorry, but I must turn to Bernie Sanders:

What is the point of this tweet when all available evidence is that nothing remotely like the policy Sanders is advocating here is going to happen? Last week, Joe Biden said that the best he might be able to do is give seniors an $800 voucher for dental coverage. Again, Bernie Sanders knows that it is very likely that seniors are not going to get what he is proposing! So maybe don’t tweet like this???

OK, good to know, I guess? Who is this for?

But tweets like this don’t have to be tied to specific legislative fights. Democrats are constantly just making their views on various policies known without providing any proof that they are working to enact them. A classic example comes from Sen. Alex Padilla:

Thanks for telling us, senator! Maybe do literally anything about it?

Or here’s the big man himself on voting rights:

Cool! Maybe do something about the Supreme Court—oh wait, you don’t want to—or the filibuster—oh wait, you might kind of want to but not now, srrryyyyy—before it’s too late, since, y’know, you’re the LITERAL PRESIDENT???

I haven’t mentioned perhaps the most famously online Democratic politician, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. That’s because, while she can descend into Schatz-like punditry, or Biden-like gesture tweets, she is mostly just extremely good at Twitter. You get a bit of a pass if you are actually competent in the medium! The rest of these people do not have that excuse. It’s time for them to log off and focus on the day job.