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Politics - Open Up

With the Iowa Caucuses behind us, the Presidential season is well underway.  And, it has been for about two years.  I have hesitated at times to discuss politics on this blog, but I think it is time to talk about some things I hope can happen with a new President and new Congress in 2009.

Although the focus is on the Presidential race, Congress will also change quite a bit in the 2008 election.  Quite a few incumbents (mostly Republicans) are retiring.  I think that Congress will shift further in whatever direction the Presidential election goes.

The first thing I want to see is more openness and transparancy in our government.  At Gettysburg, Lincoln called our system a government "of the people, by the people, for the people."  I am not naive enough to think that we are purely populist.  Of course, corporations and special interests have their sway.  But, I think that the decline of transparancy  and checks and balances in our government has been scary.

I think that this has come from both the increasing power of special interests and misplaced national security concerns.  Anyone who tries to get a special deal from government has a great interest in not having this become widely known.  It's in all of our interest that we make everything in our government as transparent as possible.  If a 'special deal' has some level of public interest behind it, it should stand up to scrutiny.  Even special interests need to keep in mind that there is probably some other special deal in the government that is going against them.  The best thing is to make it all open and subject to review.

National security has also been claimed as a reason to keep things secret.  What a crock.  There certainly are some things that need to be kept secret for national security purposes.   But, these are probably in a fairly narrow area and cover a fairly small range of information.  More and more government information has been classified as Top Secret in the name of national security when it is more likely to be in the name of obfuscation.  This is a direct infringement on our freedom.  We've fought and won many wars with much more openness than we have now.

Congress has lost a lot of its oversight capability, perhaps because one party controlled the Executive and Legislative branch.   But I think that even some Republicans realize now that they have suffered by ceding their independence to the President.  With Bush's drop in popularity, Congress has dropped, too.

My sympathies may be pretty transparent here, but I am trying to be objective.  I think that one reason for the 'change' theme to be so strong in the 2008 election is a reaction to a lack of transparency and openness.  No matter what your political leanings are, you should be in favor of getting back to a higher level of openness.  It's your government, after all.  Act like an owner.

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