With the advent of Rep. Rehberg (MT) posting his schedule to his official congressional Web site, Montana bloggers and newspapers have asked if Sen. Baucus would join his fellow lawmakers and post his schedule, as well. Lawmakers who agree to share their schedule show that they’re responsive, open, transparent and above all accountable to their constituents. When citizens can find out who has the ears of their lawmakers they can fairly determine if those lawmakers are making fair decisions. The information is vital to a strong democracy because it allows, for the first time, a voter to engage in the daily life of their elected official. The Montana Standard agrees — on Sunday they printed an editorial making the point that
With just three people representing the fourth largest state in the country, our congressional delegation already faces a great challenge in trying to stay in touch with Montanans, and this one relatively easy way to keep people in the loop.
Given the distance between Washington DC and Montana it could be frustrating to a Montanan to feel connected to their representative. But, with a schedule, people know that members of Congress are, in fact, meeting with people in the district and keeping those needs in mind daily. Bloggers are also asking, Don Pogreba’s blog Intelligent Discontent
It's time for Senator Max Baucus to do the right thing. Following the lead of Senator Tester and Representative Rehberg, it's time for Max to start telling Montana voters how he spends his days in Washington.
and Jay Steven’s Left in the West "So you know what this means! Max Baucus is the only Montana federal-level representative hiding his business behind a cloud."
The value of a daily available schedule is not lost and constituents actually see the value and want to see all their Representatives do the right thing. We have seen the power that Montana Bloggers have in demanding accountability from their elected officials, and I am confident that Sen. Baucus will do the right thing by his constituents. There’s hope he’s already considering it. Today, the Billings Gazette published an editorial citing, Sen. Baucus’ spokesperson, Barrett Kaiser stating “…said last week that the senator is considering posting his schedule.”
The Billings Gazette continues saying:
“Max Baucus ought to join this bold minority movement in telling his employers (that's all of us Montanans) what he's doing in the job we're paying him to do. With Baucus disclosing his daily meetings, Montana would have the distinction of having the first entire delegation sharing this information publicly.”
Having an entire delegation posting schedules is not only significant it’s pioneering. Montana would have the advantage of being the only state where people can actually compare and contrast who all their representatives are meeting with. And while this doesn’t solve all problems it goes a long way to bring citizens into the process of lawmaking. By making sure that officials are soliciting a wide range of viewpoints, meeting with the humble as well as the high powered, a public schedule will demonstrate that, indeed, the member is doing the work constituents sent him to Washington to do.