Getting the attention of congresscritters

Hafta say, Clay Johnson is righter than I wish he was (Dear Internet: It’s No Longer OK to Not Know How Congress Works). A few bits, yanked from their contextual underpinnings, to get your attention:

Right now, if you want effective legislation around your industry, then you need to pay the right lobbyists, make the right campaign contributions, and write the right legislation at the right time in order to get it out of Washington. If you had to objectively pick the winning team in Washington, pick the team with deep pockets and great lobbyists, not the team with community organizers and signed petitions. It’s a gross system that needs change. It’s a cancer on our democracy.

But looking for a specific innovation to try and change the way Washington works by the time Congress votes on SOPA is about as foolish as Steve Jobs trying to diet his way out of having pancreatic cancer. With billions of dollars in the bank, and not a lot of time left, isn’t it worth going for the sure bet? Just spend the money. Then, after you’re sure you beat cancer, worry about disrupting the system that caused it…

Right now, Congress uses a tool called “Intranet Quorum” to effectively listen to constituents. It’s a tool built by Lockheed Martin, built in the 1990s, and built without any real social media… Unfortunately, the world of government is a world of locked-up vendor contracts and displacing Intranet Quorum isn’t as simple as just building a better product, offering it at a lower cost. It’s entrenched, and there are all kinds of rules and regulations around what kinds of software members can use in an official capacity… Both chambers have the same problem, really: in order to provide software to members offices, that software must be hosted inside the data centers of each chamber, using the hardware that each chamber provides, using only the languages and software available on that hardware…

It’s no longer acceptable for us to not take responsibility for our Congress anymore. If we want it to be better then throwing bums out, and replacing them with new bums doesn’t seem to be doing the trick. Let’s work instead to educate whomever is in Congress, and the professional class around them. Let’s do more of the stuff that works, and less of the stuff that doesn’t.

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