Tuesday, May 22, 2007

E-citizenry and the open Congress

As part of the Save Internet Radio initiative, I e-mailed my representative, Eric Cantor (R-Va). Like many campaigns these days, I had the option of cutting and pasting a prewritten message, but I chose to write a personal note. After all, it was important to me, so I felt I should invest some time in the message rather than just sending an e-mail that said "ditto."

I received a thoughtful response from representative Cantor that I much appreciated. And I'll be responding shortly with a clarifying e-mail.

While the only difference between this exchange happening in 1957 and 1997 is snail mail vs. e-mail, what happens next will be very different, indeed.

Thanks to opencongress.org, I will be able to track the bills I am interested in, and also monitor the votes of my elected representatives either for or against them. And, potentially, I'll know what happens within minutes of those votes being cast.

Opencongress.org represents the power of the web harnessed for good. This one site aggregates data from congressional sources, as well as news sites and blog entries related to issues before the Senate and the House -- and it's politically neutral. The aggregater pulls together all the facts, I make my own conclusions.

I find it invaluable, and check it daily to monitor the issues I'm care about (and find out about others I hadn't been aware of). A democracy is best served by an informed citizenry. Opencongress.org -- and resources like it --can get us closer to that ideal, if we choose to use it.

- Ralph

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