Among segments of the political class, social media -- Twitter, specifically -- has become an increasingly popular way for them to communicate with both constituents and media. Sometimes, they talk to each other.
Last weekend was one of those times. The occasion was the arrival of the Muslim holy day Ramadan. State Rep. Dan Hamilton (R-20), took the opportunity of the holy day to draw a comparison between President Obama's recognition of Ramadan and his recognition of Easter earlier in the year (see attached).
Democratic strategist Tyler Jones quickly responded to Hamilton's comments, which he thought implied that Hamilton was repeating the myth held by some of the more members of the Republican Party, that President Obama is a Muslim. It's a view shared by nearly a third of conservatives according to a recent survey. (Note: President Obama is a Christian and attended the same church in Chicago for several years and has attended several churches in Washington, DC.)
Shortly thereafter, Baraki Sellers (D-90) joined the fray, criticizing Hamilton on similar grounds as Jones. At one point a bystander comments on the exchange between two politicians.
The whole thing was over in about an hour.
Hamilton told Patch he's become a regular user of both Twitter and Facebook since getting elected. "It’s a way to stay in touch with the community," Hamilton said. "It’s a great tool."
Hamilton compared Twitter to a virtual dinner party and noted that about 15 other South Carolina Assembly members use it regularly. "You can engage with people you otherwise might not talk to," he said.
Among the most fequent users are Garry Smith, a House member from the Greenville area, and Shane Massey a Senator from Edgefield County.
Jones, who responded to Hamilton initially and is a frequent Twitter user, is a little more dubious about its usage. "Anytime a 140-character tweet takes the place of a thoughtful discussion in politics, the voter loses," Jones said. "And unfortunately some politicians like to take advantage of that."