Connecting with constituents through the digital democracy (Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, LinkedIn, etc...) is not the first thing West Virginia politicians need to do. I feel the number one mission-critical effort is to connect residents across the State to the Internet. This connection is the first step in optimizing communication between those in office/those running for office with those who put you in office, thus combating voter complacency through engagement.
While at a West Virginia University Alumni Pig Roast in Boone County this weekend, I pulled out my iPhone to 4square, but didn’t have any cell signal. Sad to say, not having cell signal is something I got used to while driving around Southern West Virginia working on Senator Truman Chafin’s (@Senator_Chafin) campaign, (Hootie Dropped the Ball, anyone remember that radio jingle?). Not having 3G was a bit of a dilemma, however, for my boss (@wvlarry) and I when we were on a photo shoot for Greg Tucker in Summersville. While trying to check my email, our client asked if my iPhone used wireless and then gave me his wireless code. Thank heavens! What would I have done without an Internet connection?
Reality check: Not having an Internet connection is common for too many West Virginia residents. While I would go nuts not being able to check my Twitter feed, read the latest on Huffington Post, or shop at Sephora.com or for shoes, thousands across the Mountain State don’t have a choice. And it’s unacceptable.
As a Social Media Strategist for political campaigns, it’s my job to connect elected officials and aspiring politicians with their constituency. The “democratization of communication” can only happen when both parties engage in an open, digital dialogue. But without Internet infrastructure, ePolitics won’t happen anytime soon in West Virginia.
State Senator Ron Stollings, well-respected Mountain M.D. and client, also attended the Pig Roast, and I asked him what the 411 was with broadband infrastructure. He replied that things were coming along, and that every major public building, from schools to hospitals to libraries, would soon have Internet connection. While I’m following up with him and several other elected politicos this week regarding this issue, “soon” can’t come soon enough.