In November 2008, an energetic 40-something candidate won an election thanks to a grassroots campaign that effectively used social-media networks to mobilize voters. As you may have guessed, I’m talking about GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah.
Rep. Chaffetz grew up in a Democratic family. His father was previously married to Mike Dukakis’s wife, Kitty. Chaffetz was Utah co-chairman of Dukakis’s presidential campaign. According to sources that I made up, Chaffetz was really a Republican spy and it was his idea to parade Dukakis around in a battle tank.
Eventually, Rep. Chaffetz came around as a conservative (more on that below). When he took office in 2009, he was chosen by CNN for their “Freshman Year” series, which allowed him to write commentary and post video entries about his experiences in Congress. They included saving his family money by sleeping on a cot in his office, his trip to Iraq and several visits to Five Guys Burger and Fries.
Rep. Chaffetz has an American Conservative Union rating of 100% and continues to use social media to communicate with constituents. You can follow him on Twitter at @JasonintheHouse.
“At a time when members of Congress admit to knowing little about technology, it's refreshing to have Congressman Chaffetz on the cutting edge. He's fully embraced digital media and opened new lines of communication as a result. That makes him a model for other members of Congress,” said Rob Bluey, director of the Center for Media and Public Policy at the Heritage Foundation.
In his first CNN diary entry in March 2009, Rep. Chaffetz wrote, “I have no doubt that cutting something in government will be exceptionally difficult… So, I take this as a personal challenge. Who knows how many years it will take to dismantle even the most basic of programs in such an entrenched bureaucracy? But I'm up for it. This is the fight my constituents sent me here to wage. Who's in?”
Let’s hope we get 40 freshmen just like him in November!
1. If there were a television channel that only showed one movie over and over, what movie should it be?
CHAFFETZ: The Blind Side
2. What’s one of your favorite movie quotes?
CHAFFETZ: Napoleon Dynamite: "Just follow your heart. That's what I do."
3. In A Clockwork Orange, Malcolm McDowell is strapped in with his eyes propped open and forced to watch images until he was "cured." If you could give President Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Leader Harry Reid the "Clockwork Orange treatment," what movie would you make them watch?
CHAFFETZ: Liar, Liar
4. What pop culture souvenir do you own that people would be surprised to learn that you cherish?
CHAFFETZ: Evel Knievel autograph. It is a bit ripped. I used it to swat away bees that were attacking me. I was six years old. An amazing American.
5. What's your current “guilty pleasure” non-news television show?
CHAFFETZ: Used to watch “Brady Bunch” with the kids. They are older now so “Malcolm in the Middle” is the re-run of choice. Everybody knows someone like Reese.
6. Which movie, television or rock star would cause you to lose your ability to speak if you ever met?
CHAFFETZ: Don Knotts … he's dead.
7. What was the first rock concert you ever attended and where did you sit and who went with you?
CHAFFETZ: Truth be told it was Michael Jackson at Denver's Mile High stadium. I think it was him. My high school classmate and I were sitting so far away I can't be sure it was him. Sounded like him.
8. Tell me about a public or private moment when you thought to yourself, "This is what Elvis felt like every day.”
CHAFFETZ: Coming out of surgery for fixing my broken foot I was so, so high.
9. What are your two favorite non-news websites?
10. What’s the coolest thing you’ve been able to do because of your role in the political arena?
CHAFFETZ: Playing Rock Band with Stephen Colbert on “The Colbert Report.”
11. What question do you wish reporters would ask you? What’s your answer to that question?
CHAFFETZ: Keith Olbermann: Did you know I think Obama and Jimmy Carter were the best Presidents ever? Jason Chaffetz: Yes. Yes, I did know you think that.
12. Tell me about the moment you decided to enter the political arena.
CHAFFETZ: Spent two days with Ronald Reagan when I was 22. I hoped at some point I would be in a position to make a difference.