Wednesday, June 04, 2008

140 characters later I get sucker punched by democracy

So yesterday I was made aware that the House of Representitves Congressman for my district, John Culberson just started using Twitter. Just because it seemed interesting, I added him (his twitter acct is here: @johnculberson).

A few minutes ago, he tweeted "I am on the House floor. I am voting yes for Community Health Centers which provide medical care to uninsured Americans."

This completely blew me away as I started thinking of the ramifications of this.. not just what he voted on, but the fact that this one thing, a congressman starting to use Twitter, just made our representative democracy real for me, something that's happening right now and being made by real people that I can communicate with and share my opinions with.

Previously our government has been something that has happened, in my head, somewhere over there, out of sight, mostly out of mind unless I'm swearing at the radio whenever GWB produces another completely idiotic sound clip. Even the primaries (yay Obama!) have been something that happens on the other side of the screen.

Now, John Culberson is a Republican, and I don't agree with all of his views, or heck (after reading a bit more on his platform) even most of them, I heartily applaud him making himself accessible in this way. He's also doing a live web-based town hall meeting on Friday, June 6th at 10am CST, for a live question and answer session.

A couple days ago I was reading over Barack Obama's platform, and noticed that there was quite a bit about using the internet to make records acessable, regular virtual town hall meetings for his cabinet members, and other "Democracy 2.0" concepts that sound fascinating in theory, but I have no idea how well they'll be actually implemented. Of course, Barack Obama is the reason I first started using Twitter in the first place, but aside from a couple mildly snarky comments during the campaign, the tweets have been "I'm here at this rally, get out the vote!" sort of posts that are certainly handled by staffers. This is not what I want.

I was amused to read over John Culberson's tweets about trying to get his background on his flickr page to tile, and struggling to get it working on his blackberry, and seeing five successive posts about the background image in question (suppressed a YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG tweet) and then, today, what he's voting on in the house. This is freakin' awesome.

Just to clarify for the people in the back row: The technology fails if it's just another press release on your goddamn political talking points.

I'm very hopeful that Obama gets this right, because to all indications, he gets the interent. I'm irrationally excited that my congressional representative, in all his dorky foundering, is getting it right, right now.

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