Update: If you can't attend watch the screencast here.
We are opening the House and changing Congress. This Thursday (May 10) at 10 a.m. the Heritage Foundation is hosting a panel discussion on The Open House Project recommendations. The panel speakers include Sunlight Program Director John Wonderlich, David All of the David All Group, Director of the Center for Media and Public Policy at the Heritage Foundation Robert Bluey, and MyDD's Matt Stoller. The event will no doubt feature some of the most interesting conversation regarding making the House open, accesible, and fit for the 21st century that you will find in Washington, D.C. If you have an interest in the future of politics and the future of Congress you should attend this event. Plus, when else are you going to see Matt Stoller at the Heritage Foundation? You can RSVP here.
The Open House Project recommendations (read them here) aim to not only change the way Congress works but also to change the way citizens approach, encounter, and communicate with Congress. The section that David All and I co-authored, Member Web-use Restrictions, recommends that the decades-old rules that have locked Members of Congress out of participating with the general public in the conversation online be done away with. Rob Bluey's section on Citizen Journalism Access, so well explained in this Op-Ed for The Hill, advocates the creation of a Citizen Journalist credentialing process to break the stranglehold on Capitol access by the major media organizations. The recommendations laid out in the sections on structured formats for legislative data and open congressional committees would dramatically alter the way that citizens learn and inform themselves about the government. Making Congressional Research Service reports public would also change the way that citizens can learn about issues, bills, and matters of importance to them.
These recommendations intend to knock down the dam that is currently blocking the flow of information and knowledge about our government and allow that information and knowledge to flow directly to the people without going through elite filters like the major media organizations or being dammed up for the exclusive eyes of lobbyists and Washington insiders. It's past time to change the relationship that citizens have with their government. Luckily, it is already happening.
Matt Stoller writes that "bringing Congress into the 21st century is happening, with good people all over the Hill and outside of the institution. It's just an organizing problem." This is a similar point that Steven Clift gets at when he writes, "There is a new movement a foot. Citizens get the democracy they ask for. Citizens have not strongly asked for representative processes that connect effectively with the online world in which we live. That was, until now." Now is the time to ask for this change.
If you're in D.C. and can attend the Open House Project event at the Heritage Foundation please do. If you can't make it in person the event will be streamed on the Heritage Foundation website. You can also join the Open House Project listserv and join the conversation.