Change Congress

by brendan on 06/13/2009

Change Congress logo

Change Congress is worth supporting. It’s an effort to reduce corruption in Congress resulting from the influence of special interests.

The founder of the effort is Larry Lessig, who also founded Creative Commons. And though Lessig partnered with traditionally Democratic consultant Joe Trippi to produce Change Congress, it is still very much a non-partisan effort. The first two politicians targeted have both been Democrats, which bodes well for the project’s independence.

I’m excited about Change Congress. I try to follow politics as closely as I can, including the money flowing in and out, and it’s very disheartening most of the time to see what appears to be rampant and open graft. When I am able to trick somebody into a political discussion with me, and the topic turns to money, almost inevitably their feelings are the same: Money and power corrupt, most politicians are corrupt, there is nothing we can do about it. So the feeling of being powerless over the system is pretty common, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The internet and age of information is changing the game, and opening doors that didn’t even exist before. Change Congress is one of these potential game-changers, so I encourage you to support it.

It’s not the only one, though. There are several great sites out there that make it easier to learn about your district, your reps, and the money involved. You really should take a look. And if you don’t think you need to know what’s going on, then who exactly should? Aren’t you the one being represented in Washington? Aren’t you the one paying the taxes?

Other resources:
The site that started it all for me; it was useful when I found it years ago as a wee poli sci major, and it’s even more useful today. They take publically available FEC campaign donation and disclosure data and make it relevant and understandable. Want to see the link between who gets appointed as the US ambassador to a foreign country and if they happened to donate money to that president’s campaign? Want to see where the federal bailout money is really ending up? OpenSecrets has it.
Another money in politics mashup. Not as comprehensive as OpenSecrets, but very slick in its simplicity. It also brings in US Census data to make some very interesting connections.
Similar to OpenSecrets and Watchdog, but it tracks STATE level financial data – something that can just as easily be corrupt, yet typically receives much less scrutiny.
A great NON-PARTISAN site that checks political ads and speeches for factual accuracy. During the 2008 presidential cycle, this site was quoted so often in attack ads, that the site had to actually go and debunk some of the ads that were quoting the site.

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