Constituents access politicians in new ways

Michael Tortorich
Politicians who represent Ascension Parish residents have increased their use of networking tools such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Shown clockwise from top left are Sen. Mary Landrieu, President Barack Obama, Sen. David Vitter, Gov. Bobby Jindal and U.S. Reps. Charles Melancon and Bill Cassidy.

The use of modern technology is growing, even when it comes to political representatives communicating with constituents.

At the click of a mouse or the push of a button, politicians and the people they work for can keep in touch with each other.

Chris Bradley of Gonzales recently sent an e-mail to Congressman Bill Cassidy, and received a response that not only Bradley could access, but anyone on the Web.

Bradley, who wrote that he served in the military for four years and worked his way through college, voiced his concerns about some of the current bills in Congress.

Cassidy replied via video, which was posted to his YouTube channel.

The congressman, who is also a practicing physician, personally answered the e-mail from his office, which was decorated with an autographed LSU football helmet.

Cassidy, who represents Louisiana’s sixth district, said the current healthcare bill would produce billions in new taxes and cost jobs.

He also rejected the cap-and-trade bill, which he called a national energy tax that would also kill jobs.

Cassidy concluded that limited government, free enterprise and individual responsibility would be better than the bills.

Congressman Charlie Melancon, who represents Louisiana’s third district, also utilizes YouTube.

A recent video clip features Melancon testifying during a House committee meeting where he pushed for a 64-mile system of levees, locks and floodgates in south Louisiana.

Not only are politicians utilizing popular video hosting services like YouTube, but they are also communicating like never before on social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

Years ago politicians would simply post information on their personal government Web site, but in recent years, the trends have changed.

Senators Mary Landrieu and David Vitter are also using modern communication tools.

Landrieu has been on YouTube for more than a year, and has posted more than 30 videos.

Vitter joined YouTube in April, and has uploaded 50 clips. He also frequently “tweets” updates on Twitter, where he has more than 3,100 followers.

Melancon, who will run against Vitter for Senate in 2010, can be found on Twitter as melancon2010.

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s Twitter account is followed by more than 36,600. He’s even more popular on Facebook, where he counts more than 70,000 supporters. Jindal has been on YouTube since April 2007, months before he was elected governor Oct. 20, 2007.

President Obama’s Twitter account, BarackObama, boasts more than 2,737,000 followers.