Freshman Democrat says angriest voices in Congress are ‘faking it’
Rep. Jeff Jackson says the political system rewards "bad behavior."
Rep. Jeff Jackson, D-N.C., has only been in office less than a year, as he himself notes. But he is already the most followed congressman on TikTok -- and his musings about Congress, including the institution’s performative nature, have been viewed millions of times.
In one viral video, viewed 4.5 million times as of Friday, the freshman representative gives an unvarnished perspective of his time on Capitol Hill, saying, "Most of the really angry voices in Congress are totally faking it."
"The same people who act like maniacs during the open meetings are suddenly calm and rational during the closed ones. Why? Because there aren't any cameras in the closed meetings, so their incentives are different," he adds in the recent video. "What I've seen is that members of Congress are surrounded by negative incentives. There are rewards for bad behavior."
Jackson argued the same incentive structure affects the press, with both politicians and media outlets jockeying to hold people’s attention.
"The big thing that modern media and modern politicians have learned is that if they can keep you angry, they'll hold your attention," he said later in the video.
"For those who want to see politics look less like WWE, I will keep you posted," he concluded.
Even before taking office, Jackson was been posting on TikTok, maintaining a presence on the platform since early 2021. But he recently gained thousands of followers on the app after posting a video detailing the process of being sworn into office and receiving committee assignments. His videos range in subject matter, touching on topics such as Ukraine, abortion pill mifepristone and the recent congressional hearing featuring testimony from TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew.
TikTok, whose parent company ByteDance is China-owned, has attracted bipartisan backlash, with both Republican and Democratic governors banning the app from government devices due to security concerns. Members of both parties have pushed legislation that would allow President Joe Biden to ban the app at the federal level. A handful of Democrats, including Rep. Jamaal Bowman, have resisted the notion of banning the app, citing First Amendment concerns.