What is the top issue that makes Americans cynical about politics and politicians?
- Money, corporations, and lobbyists. The influence of $$ on politicians and the decisions that they make.
No wonder, then, that New Year's Eve TOTD was an ABC news video about Corporate Lobbyists gone wild in 2008, particularly at both the Republican and the Democratic conventions. The video is not flattering.
The New Years Eve Tweet of the day won with over 35 clicks on the link embedded in the Tweet.
- Corporate Lobbyists Gone Wild at the Political Conventions (ABC) #IsCool and sad. http://ow.ly/1S4
Money and politics are as old as time in our great nation.
There are two people and organizations that are doing something about this.
1) Ellen Miller of the Sunlight Foundation (@SunlightNetwork): Transparency of the Government.
Ellen Miller and Sunlight use technology to throw Sunlight on the inner workings of Congress. They fund many technology projects to ensure that politicians are no longer in the back rooms of the halls of congress doing deals and not letting the rest of us in on the action.
From their website: "....the non-partisan mission of using the revolutionary power of the Internet to make information about Congress and the federal government more meaningfully accessible to citizens. Through our projects and grant-making, Sunlight serves as a catalyst for greater political transparency and to foster more openness and accountability in government. Sunlight’s ultimate goal is to strengthen the relationship between citizens and their elected officials and to foster public trust in Congress. We are unique in that technology and the power of the Internet are at the core of every one of our efforts."
My favorite projects are:
Capitol Words: Where every word in the congressional record is put in a database and then visualized in a word cloud. Most used word of 2008? "Energy".
Party Time: A site that tracks all the political "parties" that are going on. Invitations, costs, guests, locations. Everything.
2) Lawrence Lessig of Harvard, the Creative Commons and Change Congress
Lessig, along with Joe Trippi, started a good government advocacy group, Change Congress, in 2008 with the goal of removing the influence of money in politics. Lessig believes that if money was removed from the system, politicians would be able to make the right decisions, without undue influence.
I'd encourage you to check out his work and join Change Congress.