Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

He's Back! Alan Grayson Shares His Thanksgiving Wal-Mart Escapade on Facebook and YouTube

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Tuesday, November 27 2012

Congressman-elect Alan Grayson hasn't even been sworn in yet, but he's already engaging the public and putting issues on the radar with his signature use of social media.

The "blogosphere's man in Congress" was one of two documented members of the House to publicly associate themselves with the Labor-backed Wal-Mart protests this Thanksgiving. (The other was California Representative George Miller, the top Democrat on the House Education and Labor Committee, reports The Nation.) Grayson attended a protest at one of the stores in Orlando, posed for a photo with an associate, and in a Saturday Facebook posting lambasted Wal-Mart for its low wages and for mooching off the taxpayer by forcing employees onto public assistance. He also recounted his experience, and explained that he was marched off Wal-Mart's premises by its security guards.

That drew attention. On Tuesday, he appeared on CNN's Newsroom with Carol Costello, where he re-iterated most of the points made in his Facebook post, which were essentially many of protest organizer OUR Walmart's points -- that Wal-Mart is a profitable corporation, and that they can afford to pay their associates more, and treat them with more respect.

He also threw in some startling statistics: "In state after state," he wrote, "The largest group of Medicaid recipients is WalMart employees. I’m sure that the same thing is true of food stamp recipients. Each WalMart “associate” costs the taxpayers an average of more than $1,000 in public assistance."

Grayson didn't cite the source for his statistics, nor the time frame for this alleged $1,000 in public assistance. Wal-Mart didn't respond to a request for comment at the time of this post.

When Costello noted what many other people have noted over the past few days -- namely that there appeared to be very few actual Wal-Mart employees amongst the ranks of the protestors, Grayson responded:

"The protests aren't meant to stop people from shopping. The protests are meant to inform workers of their rights to organize under the law, and under the constitution, and to make sure that they understand that they are not alone, and they will be protected if they exercise their rights. It's not meant to raise prices, or to interfere with shopping, it's meant to organize people who desperately need to be organized to make a better life for themselves."

He also told Costello that the federal minimum wage needs to be higher.

Then he promptly uploaded the clip to YouTube, where he has almost 8,000 subscribers.

Grayson has previously shared his thoughts about how he deliberately uses YouTube to communicate directly with the public on issues that he cares about. In 2010, he told Mother Jones that he routinely delivered short, YouTube-friendly (in Tim MurphyNick Baumann's words) speeches.

Grayson also used Facebook during his campaign to communicate with the public. The Walmart posting, along with others, such as November 4's "Idiot Wind: 'A Socialist Nightmare Hellscape,'" ridiculing his Republican opponent's hyperbole, illustrate that the congressman-elect fully intends to use these channels to bring attention in his own unique way to both mainstream issues as well as others that might not be on the political radar or on the Congressional to-do list.

News Briefs

RSS Feed today >

Another Co-Opted Hashtag: #MustSeeIran

The Twitter hashtag #MustSeeIran was created to showcase Iran's architecture, landscapes, and would-be tourist destinations. It was then co-opted by activists to bring attention to human rights abuses and infringements. Now Twitter is home to two starkly different portraits of a country. GO

At NETmundial Brazil: Is "Multistakeholderism" Good for the Internet?

Today and tomorrow Brazil is hosting NETmundial, a global multi-stakeholder meeting on the future of Internet governance. GO

Brazilian President Signs Internet Bill of Rights Into Law at NetMundial

Earlier today Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff sanctioned Marco Civil, also called the Internet bill of rights, during the global Internet governance event, NetMundial, in Brazil.

GO

tuesday >

Ruck.us Reboots As a Candidate Digital Toolkit That's a Bit Too Like Democracy.com

Ruck.us launched with big ambitions and star appeal, hoping to crack the code on how to get millions of people to pool their political passions through their platform. When that ambition stalled, its founder Nathan Daschle--son of the former Senator--decided to pivot to offering political candidates an easy-to-use free web platform for organizing and fundraising. Now the new Ruck.us is out from stealth mode, entering a field already being served by competitors like NationBuilder, Salsa Labs and Democracy.com. And strangely enough, Ruck.us seems to want its early users to ask Democracy.com for help. GO

Armenian Legislators: You Can Be As Anonymous on the 'Net As You Like—Until You Can't

A proposed bill in Armenia would make it illegal for media outlets to include defamatory remarks by anonymous or fake sources, and require sites to remove libelous comments within 12 hours unless they identify the author.

GO

monday >

The Good Wife Looks for the Next Snowden and Outwits the NSA

Even as the real Edward Snowden faces questions over his motives in Russia, another side of his legacy played out for the over nine million viewers of last night's The Good Wife, which concluded its season long storyline exploring NSA surveillance. In the episode titled All Tapped Out, one young NSA worker's legal concerns lead him to becoming a whistle-blower, setting off a chain of events that allows the main character, lawyer Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), and her husband, Illinois Governor Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), to turn the tables on the NSA using its own methods. GO

The Expanding Reach of China's Crowdsourced Environmental Monitoring Site, Danger Maps

Last week billionaire businessman Jack Ma, founder of the e-commerce company Alibaba, appealed to his “500 million-strong army” of consumers to help monitor water quality in China. Inexpensive testing kits sold through his company can be used to measure pH, phosphates, ammonia, and heavy metal levels, and then the data can be uploaded via smartphone to the environmental monitoring site Danger Maps. Although the initiative will push the Chinese authorities' tolerance for civic engagement and activism, Ethan Zuckerman has high hopes for “monitorial citizenship” in China.

GO

The 13 Worst Bits of Russia's Current and Maybe Future Internet Legislation

It appears that Russia is on the brink of passing still more repressive Internet regulations. A new telecommunications bill that would require popular blogs—those with 3,000 or more visits a day—to join a government registry and conform to government-mandated standards is expected to pass this week. What follows is a list of the worst bits of both proposed and existing Russian Internet law. Let us know in the comments or on Twitter if we missed anything.

GO

Transparency and Public Shaming: Pakistan Tackles Tax Evasion

In Pakistan, where only one in 200 citizens files their income tax return, authorities published a directory of taxpayers' details for the first time. Officials explained the decision as an attempt to shame defaulters into paying up.

GO

More