By Jocelyn Hudson
Reality TV has penetrated the halls of the United States Capitol. In a series called “Freshman Year”, CNN.com follows two new members of congress and documents their experiences via video and online diary entries. The self-shot footage brings viewers in contact with day-to-day activities, and the shoddy-do-it-yourself recordings are reminiscent of the first days of high school.
One freshman representative taking part in the series is Congressman Jared Polis. The Boulder Democrat is the exemplary new age, tech savvy politician. Gone are the days of inaccessible politicians (ok, maybe not gone, but certainly dwindling). Polis blogs, Tweets and even answers his own emails, a task usually left to the communications team. A recent Denver Post article profiles Polis’s unconventional approach to lawmaking (“A 34-year-old multimillionaire, Polis seems to relish breaking the old rules, including whether talking about his ripe wardrobe might, say, undermine the kind of a serious image that some voters like in the people charged with making the country’s laws.” Denver Post, June 3, 2009), in a place so set in convention and tradition, and the effects it could have on his credibility as a member of congress.
Does transparency help or hurt a politician’s ability to be taken serious?
Personally, I love the energy, ideas and transparency Polis is bringing to Washington. He’s making politics engaging for his constituents. And he’s not the only one – approximately 70 members of congress are Twittering. Instant updates and information, it’s a whole new game in politics. I’m interested to see how it plays out for Congressman Polis. Will he be praised for using new media and his attempt to break the “stogy, stuffy” politician stereotype or will he be chastised for not falling into tradition?