Sometimes the oldest option is the best one.
It was created in 2008 as a result of a string of scandals in the mid-2000s. An alarming number of congressmen were convicted of bribery, money laundering, corruption or similar offenses.
Critics of the House Ethics Committee, the established watchdog group of current members, believed it had weak oversight and needed independent help where a representative could report misconduct without possible blowback.
Republicans this week wanted to severely diminish the OCE’s reach, but the plan collapsed on Tuesday.
Some could claim that President-elect Donald Trump’s tweet on the matter swayed the decision, but a stronger, older force had more weight: the good ol’ constituent phone call.
Washington Post journalist Robert Costa tweeted Tuesday that a “blizzard of angry constituent calls” had a big play in derailing the amendment.
Susan Hennessey, a managing editor for the Lawfare blog, echoed the point, tweeting, “This cannot be overstated. One call to your congressman is worth 1,000 angry tweets.”
The pressure from Democrats, Trump and constituents stopped the stripping of OCE’s powers.
Politicians are supposed to listen to their constituents’ needs and goals and represent them in Congress. The public does still have a say in the process.
The divisive times of the last few years have built up the power of social media. Sometimes, tweets can bring social change or raise awareness, but ultimately the cries of one get lost in the overwhelming noise of the many.
Though most of Congress uses social media, calling, emailing or writing your representative is the better avenue of getting your voice heard.
“Too many think social media is the legislative process. It is not. Calling, writing, & emailing the legislators OFFICE is,” said state Sen. Konni Burton, R-Fort Worth, in a tweet.
The House learned a lesson this week, and the public taught it.