Neat video. Glad to see the expansion from the usual politically active entertainers.
My take on it is – If I can’t vote (b/c I’m a permanent resident), why should you?
On the serious. Don’t forget to register to vote. Use Google maps to figure our you voting place (it will include links where you register to vote in your locality. If you’re going to be out of town, use GovoteAbsentee.org.
Mobilize.org is an all-partisan network dedicated to educating, empowering, and energizing young people to increase our civic engagement and political participation. We work to show young people how public policy impacts our lives, and more importantly – how we can impact public policy.
The orgnization put its name on the map by taking over the 2100 Fund, an organization that raised funds for organzations promoting youth activism, and writing the Democracy 2.0 Declaration (watch it).
Admitidly, prior to the summit, I had heard of Mobilize.org but I was not very familiar w/ its work. I had planned to submit a proposal for the summit but missed the deadline because of the Silverman campaign and the presidential forum. As luck would have it, at the forum, I got the priviledge and opportunity to meet mobilize’s CEO, Maya Enista, and work with her in a breakout session. During that time, I told her about my interest in the forum and she invited me to attend.
A crucial piece of the summit was the ability for those attending to present ideas and plans that solve the issue of money in politics. From the mobilize.org website:
Competitors in the Democracy 2.0 Entrepreneur Grant Summit must advance a new solution or approach to the money in politics problem – that will change the pattern in the field of civic engagement. Winners will each receive a grant, between $3,000 and $5,000 and will receive the support of Mobilize.org and its partner network to champion their proposal, creating systemic and sustainable change in the way elections are administered.Competitors in the Democracy 2.0 Entrepreneur Grant Summit must advance a new solution or approach to the money in politics problem – that will change the pattern in the field of civic engagement. Winners will each receive a grant, between $3,000 and $5,000 and will receive the support of Mobilize.org and its partner network to champion their proposal, creating systemic and sustainable change in the way elections are administered.
On the first day, keynote speaker, former Representative John Buchanan, gave an inspiring address encouraging and challenging my generation, the Millenials, to become the greatest American generation. He pointed out that money has become an element in our democracy. Technology, along with other tools, makes it easier to promote transparency and hold elected officials more accountable.
The morning on the second day, Nancy Watzman, of the Sunlight Foundation, and Political Party Time, a blog dedicacated to tracking parties thrown at both party conventions as well as fundraising activities of lawmakers, spoke about her exprience trying to bring transparancy to government since the 1990s and all the Sunlight Foundation’s projects and resources. Nancy’s address was followed by a panel that included Josh Zaharoff of Common Cause and Matt Stempeck of Americans for Campaign Reform. In the afternoon, Sam Rasoul, candidate for U.S. Congress in VA-6, stopped by to talk to us about his campaigns, his goals, the change would try to enact in congress and what he has been able to accomplish so far in VA. Between the two speakers, competitors had a chance to meet with panels of experts who gave them feedback about their proposals.
On the last day, David Mark, Senior Editor at Politico and author of Going Dirty, shared his thoughts about the current Presidential campaign as well as some notes about his book. Competitors also got a chance to present their proposals in front of the entire conference. Four winners were later announced. The first prize went to Sam Oliker-Friedland of GoVoteAbsentee.org. I whole heartily agree with the decision, as his proposal was the most developed and most likely to be sustained over the course of time. Basically, his website takes any voter of any district in the US throught the process of getting an absentee ballot. Check it out (Facebook Page) if you get a chance, and please spread the word.
The summit was a great fun and learning experience. It was a eye-opener in the fact that it made me realize how many Millenials are invovled in the political process and are seeking to improve the process and make it more accessible to everyone. I feel as though we sometimes get a bad rap for being overconnected and lazy and the summit gives us as a gneration the chacne to fight that stereotype and put our best effort into improving our democracy.
The gist of Mr. Benett’s presentation is that he has developed a technique that will more accurately group emails that each representative receives from various advocacy group so that s/he will not waste staff time reading all the emails and will have a better tally of where constituents stands on any particular issue by looking at the total number of emailed received. According to him but unverified by anyone in the room, the system works with 95-99% accuracy and is easy to install and works with current e-mail systems on the Hill. He claims to have tested in some offices with great result and received positive feedback. In plain English, the system group letters according to a token or URL included each email. So any given e-mailing campaign would have the same token. For the techie crowd, see some documentation at http://advocatehope.org/tech-tidbits. Mr. Bennett then called on all the orgs present at the lecture to lobby the vendors to start implementing this new system. He claims that there is no financial benefit to him and I don’t have any reason not to believe him. Lastly, Mr. Bennett claims staffer don’t read the letters already so his solution would a least make sure they have a accurate count before the vote.
I have two thoughts about this improvement by Mr. Benett. As someone whose organization is trying to lobby congress to get legislation passed, this is fabulous. It’s a great tool and we can use to hopefully sway a representative’s mind and maybe get to move away from voting along party lines when we can get people from his district to e-mail him or her. As person that has friends that work on the Hill, I know this will make their live easier and they will be a little more efficient while at the office and maybe get a few more things done.
As a private citizen, this “improvement” is outrageous. Call me be crazy but I’d like to think that my representative or his staff would read the vast majority of e-mails and letters that come to them. It’s their job! They were elected to serve the people of their district and that includes reading constituent’s mail how ever outrageous they are. The Reps and their staff are supposed to do what is good for the constituents and the for the country as a whole. Just because 4999 people emailed about one side of the issue and 50001 email about the other side, doesn’t mean the rep should cast a vote in favor of the highest bidder. While I appreciate Mr. Benett’s persistence and hard work (he’s been working on this solo for 5 years), I think his solution is the wrong way to go. His solution is fixing the wrong problem. I would even go as far as to say it’s making Congress worse. We, as citizen and their employers, should not accept the fact Reps don’t read our mail or letters. We should def not make it easier for them not to read our letters. While Mr. Benett’s claim about staffers not reading mail may be true, I refuse to give in his cynicism and make easier for them not to so. And I sincerely hope others won’t either.
I'm Henri (pictured above). I'm a web developer currently living in DC with my girlfriend and our small HD TV. I enjoy all things sports, business, politics and tech. In my free time, I go to class, freelance and attend happy hours. This blog is place for me to rant about all the things that through to my head at any given moment. Hope you enjoy it.
p.s. The grammar and spelling mistakes are part of the writing. They give my writing some personality
Disclaimer:The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.