Launching BetterDistricts Today

BetterDistricts is a personal project that I’ve been working on for awhile.

I think that there is something fundamentally broken about how our government is working. I believe that a lot of the symptoms that we see:

  • Feeling that no one is actually listening
  • Inability to get anything done
  • Shouting past each other
  • No real debate
  • Creating caricatures of those we disagree with

have at their root the inability to hold our elected officials accountable. We send officials to D.C. to represent the people of their district. But how can we ever tell if they’re doing that? There is no mechanism to compare what the individuals in a community believe and how their elected officials vote.

I created BetterDistricts to try and do something about this. You can either vote on the bills that are in Congress, sending a signal as to how you would like to be represented or you can create a proposal to put forward.

Let me know what you think.

My Representatives

With MyElectedRep, I get a view into the people that are representing me. Whether I agree with the votes that they’re making on my behalf or if I would like them to vote another way.

To help me make decisions on votes, I can look at how some trusted organizations recommend I vote and read the analysis that they’ve provided.

With each Representative, I can vote on upcoming legislation, so that they can determine how the district feels. I can also go through their past votes and either agree or disagree with the votes that they’ve made. If I feel strongly about certain votes, I can contact my Representatives directly to let them know how I feel.

Once I’ve gone through the different bills and voted on the ones that I wanted to, I can look at how each Representative scores. They get a district score as well as a personal score. I can then use this score to determine if I should vote for this person to be my Representative again next time or if someone else would do a better job.

My Representatives are:

Money in Politics

This article on CNN today expresses a lot of the reasoning behind why I created MyElectedRep.

With 3 of the 4 Republican candidates for President being heavily sponsored by single donors with $100+M in assets are you feeling more or less confident that after the next election cycle our elected officials will represent us and not the super wealthy that paid for their campaigns?

The only way we can keep our Representatives accountable is if we vote and show them how we want to be represented.

We need a place to point to, where we can show elected officials that they’re not doing their job. A place where we can show that on a certain item a district wants to vote one way. Then we can score our Representatives on whether or not they listened.

By measuring the votes that each Representative makes, it becomes less important to control the money that they receive.

Evening news displays its intellectual dishonesty again

Lead story and headline on the NBC evening news again tonight talked about the “Controversial statement by President Obama about the NY Mosque”.  If the news editors were being honest they might say that “President Obama today reaffirmed a belief in freedom of religion that has been a foundation of our country for 200+ years”. But of course that isn’t as exciting as saying that Republicans are trying to stir up fear and hatred of foreigners again.

It is quite sad to see this spin. Journalism’s purpose is to find the truth in the story instead of making up their own spin to sensationalize. But we’ve gotten to the point where the corporate interests behind the News has an interest in keeping the crossfire between the right and the left going. If this means taking some liberties, then they’ve shown that they’re willing to do so.

I wouldn’t be terribly sad to see almost every major news body we have today collapse. They’ve strayed too far from their true purpose. There will still be a need for honest news gathering and there are people willing to devote their lives to that purpose. The way just needs to be cleared for these people to come to the fore again.