Congressman Actually Gets Americans to Watch a House Floor Speech

Ah, the power of Reddit.

Well it happened. A U.S. Congressman actually found a way to get America to watch a speech delivered on the floor of the House of Representatives— those things are like trees falling in forests—and like most good ideas, his seems rather obvious in retrospect: Rep. Jim McGovern of the Massachusetts 2nd District posted a link to video of his speech, in which he introduces two amendments that would overturn the Supreme Court's Citizens United Decision, to the website Reddit. He titled the post: “I'm Congressman Jim McGovern, and I just introduced two constitutional amendments to overturn Citizens United, get the money out of politics, and restore 'We, the people.'” It's no wonder his post was at least somewhat popular; the hive mind at Reddit has a fairly specific political sensibility, and campaign finance reform is a popular topic there. But while McGovern has been posting the occasional link to a speech or op-ed in recent months from his Reddit account, for whatever reason, this one hit the lottery and made its way to the front page of Reddit — a place with enough traffic to earn the affectionate title “The front page of the internet.”

That's not to say he was greeted with universal warmth once his link got there. It has over 18,000 “up votes,” from readers who wanted to promote it and 15,000 down votes, from those who didn't. In fact, the most popular comment on the post is a thorough counter-argument to his proposed amendment. And more than one Redditor has used the word “pandering.” Still, it's far more notice than a mostly symbolic amendment with seemingly little political weight behind it usually attracts.

Politicians should already know that sites like Reddit, and internet culture more broadly, have enormous power to bring exposure to their issues. President Obama stole the show from Mitt Romney's Republican National Convention by hosting an “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit, so his fellow politicians in Washington ought to have taken note. That a congressman from Massachusetts is promoting this much discussion only bolsters the evidence.