This picture is currently making the rounds on Social Media:
In the picture above, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was at a campaign rally in Somers Point when a teacher had the temerity to question him:
Melissa Tomlinson, a teacher at Buena Regional Middle School, said she asked the governor, “Why are you portraying our schools as failure factories?” He responded, “What do you want? I’m tired of you people,” according to Tomlinson. They had a brief argument over public school funding before she said, “He told me to do my job and turned around and got on the bus.”
Christie’s spokeswoman, Maria Comella, disagrees with Tomlinson’s characterization of the conversation. The governor did not say that he is “tired of you people,” Comella said.
The picture was snapped by Dave Weigel of Slate and has been retweeted from his account almost 500 times. Christie, of course, is up for reelection tomorrow, and is headed for a landslide victory. The picture above will (unfortunately) do nothing to slow down Christie’s trajectory.
This begs the question: when is a fail not a fail? This would seem to be an obvious one: Chris Christie is seen here, screaming a constituent who just wanted to ask him a question. He’s visiby angry and pointing; if you ask me, there aren’t many worse pictures for interaction between an elected official and constituent then this one.
So, when is a fail not a fail? The answer, for better or for worse, is when it fits in with your already existing modus operandi. Chris Christie is an “in your face” Governor who has gotten into fights with constituents (and teachers) before. So none of this is new for New Jersey residents, or for Chris Christie.
What’s the takeaway here, then? I think this is more proof of a basic axium when it comes to Social Media: it’s only bad if it shows something out of your image. If most politicians were photographed like this, it would be a very, very bad deal. For Christie, it’s not a thing. Most people shrugged it off when they saw picture…they’ve seen it before.
When it comes to Social Media, this is another lesson that elected officials can be themselves, as long as they are honest from the start. Be who you are on Social Media, and don’t try to be anyone else. Even if it’s controversial, even if it’s different then the norm, don’t be afraid to be who you are, and you won’t pay a political price for it.