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 thursday >

Beyond @Congressedits, Capitol Hill Looks for Entry to Wikipedia

As he recently told techPresident, the creator of Congressedits did not aim to make Members of Congress look bad, but said he hoped that they would recognize the importance of Wikipedia as a public space and engage more with its community. "If staffers and politicians identified as Wikipedians, that would be super. You could imagine politicians' home pages with a list of their recent edits, that they would be proud of the things that they are doing." On Capitol Hill, there is in fact interest in making that vision a reality, starting off with an initial conversation that could create a framework for more Wikipedians in Congress. GO

wednesday >

In the Philippines, Citizens Go Undercover With Bantay to Monitor Public Offices

The Philippines, a country of almost 100 million, is considered among the most corrupt country in Southeast Asia, despite a boost in Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index in the past few years (from 134th in 2010 to 94th in 2013 out of 175.) Corruption involves all levels of government, but benefits also from a mindset of tolerance, says Happy Feraren, the co-founder of Bantay.ph, an anti-corruption educational initiative that teaches citizens how to monitor the quality of government services, sometimes by going undercover. GO

More