Have you told the powers in Washington what kind of world you want?
September 3, 2002 8:49 PM   Subscribe

Have you told the powers in Washington what kind of world you want? You're busy. You don't have time to be a professional "Congress watcher." So we'll be your eyes and ears. We'll track the debates and compromises and bills that will shape the world.
posted by katy_ (16 comments total)
This isn't one of those things where we (the MeFi liberal horde) all sign up and then, once we're all on the list, they cart everybody off to the re-education camps up in the mountains, is it?
posted by LeLiLo at 9:05 PM on September 3, 2002

thanks for the link. Ashcroft may be singing "where eagles soar" outside my door tomorrow, but I signed up anyway.
posted by pejamo at 9:38 PM on September 3, 2002

hmm. I'm kinda disappointed they took an obvious position, from the description, I thought it'd be more middle of the road, basically reporting on certain issues, sans-commentary or something.

There really should be a site like this, for most folks, but it could come from a humanist perspective, and not necessarily be too overtly left or right leaning, or maybe create a group that most people would get behind, but few politicians ever try to be: fiscal conservative, yet socially liberal.
posted by mathowie at 10:14 PM on September 3, 2002

Matt, you say this as if the terrorists have already won...

fiscally conservative and socially liberal is the great Nirvana of politicos, and tends to get the individual stoned. Careful fearless-leader, careful.
posted by Wulfgar! at 10:20 PM on September 3, 2002

The service claims that you only send out faxes for the issues you want, so you can skip the ones that sound too lefty.

I signed up. What the heck. Maybe it's useless, or maybe it's what geeks have been looking for - a way to use IT to make our voices heard.

Besides, I just love getting letters from Kay Bailey Hutchison or Phil Gramm reading, "Dear Mr. Sanders; I appreciate your concerns about [liberal cause I wouldn't touch with a long stick], and plan to address them in the upcoming session. Thank you for your concern."
posted by RylandDotNet at 12:05 AM on September 4, 2002

fiscally conservative and socially liberal
There was this guy in the White House the last 8yrs just like that. The right launched a jihad on him, the left held their noses. The guy just like him "lost" an election. Guess what - the next Democrat will be fiscally conservative/socially liberal, because it's where America is going.
posted by owillis at 1:04 AM on September 4, 2002

From the site:
Envision a roving caravan of four vehicles, uniquely fashioned into 'theme' cars, ala the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile, each dramatically portraying our agenda while generating buzz and glee. They'll drive slowly up and down each city's crowded central business district during rush-hour so that our message literally becomes a traffic-stopper.
As a Republican, let me just say: Please, oh, please!

owillis: I was with you until you got to The guy just like him "lost" an election.I don't think Gore is like Clinton at all. I don't think he has a clue what Clinton was about. The 'people vs. the powerful' campaign he ran was a relic of the 1930's, and had nothing to do with Clintonism. I agree that socially liberal, fiscally conservative is an almost unrecognized, but growing demographic in the US today, and will have political impact in the future. It will come into conflict with both the old left, well in evidence on MeFi, and the religious right, almost unknown here, but a persistent demographic in the US.

I wonder if the old left and religious right will make common cause, as the libertarian right did with the fiscal right and the religious right during the Reagan years? Will Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader run together?

Oh, and for a socially liberal/fiscally conservative politician who may well be a presidential contender sometime in the next ten years, let me bring your attention to Ed Rendell, lately Mayor of Philadelphia, then Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, now running for governor of Pennsylvania.

In the Democratic primary this year, tens of thousands of Republicans from the Philadelphia area switched parties just so they could vote for Rendell. Who won the primary by a landslide.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 6:29 AM on September 4, 2002

I'd be far more interested in this if it were an organization that watched congress in a truly neutral and bipartisan manner. Indeed, they ought automatically generate faxes to congresspersons regardless of one's position on the political spectrum.

Imagine a service that let Republicans, Democrats and Independents fire off letters to important legislators when a controversial measure is being considered. Such an organization would do much to further the fundamental goals of a democracy.

As it now stands, I get the feeling that this organization would support many of the causes I believe in. But because they're so obviously one sided, I've serious doubts about their effectiveness.

Count me out.
posted by aladfar at 7:29 AM on September 4, 2002

...but it could come from a humanist perspective, and not necessarily be too overtly left or right leaning...

Matt, I get the feeling this is one of your pet peeves of late: Labels like Left and Right are stigmatic and often cloud the real ideas, ideas which can be broken down to simpler, more personal terms. Why should an issue be part of a stereotyped agenda like Liberal or Conservative, when the issue can appeal to basic humanism, basic goodness, basic common sense, etc...

After all, labelling yourself a Liberal or a Conservative immediately give the opposite side a potential reason to discount your point of view...
posted by Shane at 7:50 AM on September 4, 2002

matt - you're right - we need a "platform-independent" version. it could be a big deal.

i signed up for this one but how do i know they're fax letterhead doesn't say "listen to string cheese incident" the same way their web site does?
posted by subpixel at 8:21 AM on September 4, 2002

The Net is continually bewildered about the rarity of "fiscally conservative and socially liberal" (ie libertarian) as a political option. The reason isn't hard to find, though. Libertarian politics are enormously appealing to the Net's core demographic: young, educated, rich, single and childless. In such a position, you typically have the capitalist world as your oyster, and you can't figure out why the damn government won't just leave you alone with all those useless services you could pay for yourself. Drug laws, taxes, subsidies -- what a pain.

Most Americans, however -- and people around the world for that matter -- are relatively poor, with limited education, married with children. Not only would they often be sunk without some forms of government assistance (from minimum wages to state health care to farm subsidies), they're scared of where their children will end up. Drug law reform and other "soft" crime policies scare the bejeebers out of this bunch. The Reagan Democrats are the clearest example of these; and I think they are a silent majority. But they rarely have the time and money for a computer.

And the reason left vs. right has been the axis of political debate? To win an election you need two things: popular support and campaign money. To get money you need to appeal to the Net demographic, leaning either fiscally conservative or socially liberal. To get popular support you need to appeal to everyone else, leaning either fiscally liberal or socially conservative. Thus the two combinations that have seemed to work so far: liberal and conservative. That may be changing, given the utter thrashing that we left-liberals have taken in the past 20 years. But I doubt very much that the result will be a libertarian compromise. That may very well be "where America is going," since other options haven't seemed to work much better, but I suspect most of the country's people will be dragged there kicking and screaming.
posted by ramakrishna at 9:01 AM on September 4, 2002

Imagine a service that let Republicans, Democrats and Independents fire off letters to important legislators when a controversial measure is being considered.

Like this?
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:03 AM on September 4, 2002

No MoonPie - more than a simple email address is required.

What I envision is an organization that monitored all bills before congress, and alerted members (regardless of party) of the most contentious ones; complete with background information, position papers, etc.

Should something like this exist (please link to it if it does) I'd be the first to sign up.
posted by aladfar at 10:05 AM on September 4, 2002

Sad to say, but the only folks who monitor every piece of legislation before Congress are companies like mine that charge a ton of money for the service. Setting up a comparable service would be quite an undertaking, but perhaps some foundation could come up with the financing.
posted by thescoop at 10:50 AM on September 4, 2002

My question is, do campaigns like this actually do any good whatsoever, aside from raising public awareness about certain issues? I'm honestly wondering. Do any politicians care at all about fax, email or letter-writing campaigns? Don't they all pretty much rely solely on polling results to determine the mood of their constituency in as much as it's liable to influence their stand on issues? And doesn't the common letterhead and format just make the letters that much easier for staffers to identify for filing in the round bin? I'd lbe happy to participate in this and the numerous similar campaigns promoted by various groups all over the net, but I'd like to feel that I'm doing something more than running up my rep's fax paper bill.
posted by dreadmuffin at 11:25 AM on September 4, 2002

This one isn't nearly as comprehensive (or automatic) as CQ, but it does some of the things aladfar wants to see.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:43 PM on September 4, 2002

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