Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Frankly, I Think Constituent Communications Are a Good Thing

So apparently there is a Gannett report lurking somewhere behind a paywall about the use of franking by members of Congress, and as a result, we've a spate of stories about the constituent communications of local members. The Dispatch goes pretty hard after Mary Jo Kilroy for placing seventh among all Representatives and first in the Ohio delegation in money spent. Other stories look at the delegation more generally.

And all these stories lead with the amount of money spent. I think we all agree that we want to know what our representatives are doing and we all think representatives listening to their constituents is a good thing. But *gasp* it all costs money.

And that's the tone of these stories. The lede and opening grafs are all about "They're spending your money! They're spending your money!" and framing the discussion like of course these are nothing but extended campaign ads. Of course none of this is substantive or useful or good. Then they get quotes from the various members who have been set up to sound like this guy:

Here's a thought. We should encourage our representatives to communicate more with their constituents, not less. And if challengers don't like the inequity of members having the franking privilege, I'm right there with them too.

It's yet another argument for public campaign financing.