Open, transparent government is perhaps the defining issue of our time. It is essential to the very idea of democracy—well, what passes for American democracy or, rather, republicanism. When open government or transparency is discussed, it usually comes up in the context of WikiLeaks or Anonymous‘s free information efforts, usually precipitating pro-secret rhetoric from politicians on both sides of the aisle.
The best tactic then is to make open government or transparency a campaign trail issue. Take it to the town halls, so to speak.
With that in mind, OpenTheGovernment.org, in conjunction with ASNE, Union of Concerned Scientists and POGO (Project On Open Government) has put together “10 Questions for 2012 Candidates” that they hope ”will spark important discussions about our government and democracy.”
“These questions cover a lot of ground–on issues ranging from how to balance national security with rights like free speech, how to know who’s influencing elections and government policies, how to protect whistleblowers, how to follow the money the government spends, and more,” writes the open government coalition.
So, the next time you see a politician kissing a baby or eating a hot dog, throw one of these questions, or your very own open government concern, at them.
1. How will you make it easy for me to know as much as possible about what you and other government officials are doing on my behalf?
2. How will you make it easy to tell who is influencing government policies?
3. How will you make it easy to tell who is influencing elections?
4. How will you protect federal workers who lawfully expose waste, fraud, abuse, and illegality?
5. How will you make sure reporters and publishers can pursue critical stories without risk of subpoenas, prosecutions, or intimidation?
6. Do you believe there is too much government secrecy, and if so, how will you fix it?
7. How will you protect my rights while also protecting national security?
8. How will you make sure that I have the same ability to receive government records under FOIA as people with access to lawyers?
9. What kind of commitments do you think you and others ought to make to ensure public service isn’t used for private gain?
10. How will you help the public keep tabs on federal spending, including here in my hometown?