APThough it's not uncommon for high-profile politicians to trek to social news juggernaut Reddit to participate in one of its famous "Ask Me Anything" Q&A sessions, one U.S. senator in particular has become a prominent and active user of the site.
That senator is Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders, who has been active on the Politics "subreddit" section and has made "The Front Page of the Internet" multiple times in just one month.
Sanders has taken to the Vermont "subreddit" to invite constituents to a showing of "Lincoln" in St. Johnsbury and a hangout session afterward.
Sanders' presence on Reddit signals a new social-media method for members of Congress to interact with their constituents, along with the more common Twitter and Facebook.
A Sanders submission on tax reform earlier this week hung at the top of Reddit's front page for a day, which is no easy feat.
Sanders' immediate popularity on the site has been fueled by his interest in many progressive issues that are staples of the Politics subreddit, such "Too Big to Fail," the progressive tax structure, student loan reform and youth unemployment.
We talked over email with the Senator to find out more about his Reddit prowess.
On what led him to gravitate to Reddit over other social networks:
"Reddit connects millions of users and allows them to democratically rate and share ideas.
"This is a perfect way to let people know what we are working on and to get feedback from the public. I’ve been pleased to see so many people willing to engage."
How direct engagement over Reddit helped him pursue his goals on the Hill:
"Social media can be a great way to speak directly to the public and get feedback about issues that are overlooked or ignored by the mainstream media.
"I think people are eager to tell their elected officials what they think and social media allows them another way to speak their minds."Why Reddit's politics subreddit, moreso than many mainstream publications, is much more interested in issues like "Too Big To Fail," student loan reform and income inequality:
" I think this is a very important observation because this gets to the fact that the issues that most people are concerned about are not always those being covered by corporate media.
"People are concerned about the shrinking middle class, students graduating with massive debt and Wall Street greed causing enormous damage to our economy.
"I’m not surprised to see that these are the issues that are popular on Reddit because I hear about them everywhere.
"The media need to do a better job addressing the issues that truly impact people’s lives, rather than focusing on political gossip and sensationalism."
How lawmakers can engage directly with people through sites like Reddit:
"When I am not in DC, I spend most of my time in Vermont talking directly with constituents. I suspect that, over the years, I have held more town meetings than any other public official in Vermont history – many hundreds of meetings.
These are simple and straight-forward meetings where Vermonters and I talk about the issues that are on their minds.
Social media is a great way to connect but it’s also very important that lawmakers spend time getting to know the people they represent."
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