Michael Kinsley's Learning to Read Democrat in the New York Times today poked fun at the vagueness and redundancies in many parts of the democratic party platform. One section we can be proud of, however, is the strong, specific, and visionary discussion of open government that sets the party's plan apart:
A Connected America (p. 17)
In the 21st century, our world is more intertwined than at any time in human history. This new connectedness presents us with untold opportunities for innovation, but also new challenges. We will protect the Internet’s traditional openness to innovation and creativity and ensure that it remains a dynamic platform for free speech, innovation, and creativity. We will implement a national broadband strategy, especially in rural areas, that enables every American household, school, library and hospital to connect to a world-class communications infrastructure. We will rededicate our nation to ensuring that all Americans have access to broadband and the skills to use it effectively. In an increasingly technology-rich, knowledge-based economy, connectivity is a key part of the solution to many of our most important challenges: job creation, economic growth, energy, health care, and education. We will establish a Chief Technology Officer for the nation, to ensure we use technology to enhance the functioning, transparency, and expertise of government, including establishing a national interoperable public safety communications network to help first responders at the local, state and national level communicate with one another during a crisis.
Open, Accountable and Ethical Government (p. 47-48)
In Barack Obama’s Administration, we will open up the doors of democracy. We will create a new “open-source” government, using technology to make government more transparent, accountable and inclusive. Rather than obstruct people’s use of the Freedom of Information Act, we will require that agencies conduct significant business in public and release all relevant information unless an agency reasonably foresees harm to a protected interest. We will lift the veil of secret deals in Washington by publishing searchable, online information about federal grants, contracts, earmarks, loans, and lobbyist contacts with government officials. We will make government data available online and will have an online video archive of significant agency meetings. We will put all non-emergency bills that Congress has passed online for five days, to allow the American public to review and comment on them before they are signed into law. We will require Cabinet officials to have periodic national online town hall meetings to discuss issues before their agencies.
Implementing our Party’s agenda will require running an efficient government that gets results. We will develop a comprehensive management agenda to prevent operational breakdowns in government and ensure that government provides the level of service that the American people deserve. Because we understand that good government depends on good people, we will work to rebuild and reengage our federal workforce. We will make government a more attractive place to work. Our hiring will be based only on qualification and experience, and not on ideology or party affiliation. We will pay for our new spending, eliminate waste in government programs, demand and measure results, and stop funding programs that don’t work.
We are committed to a participatory government. We will use the most current technology available to improve the quality of government decision-making and make government less beholden to special interest groups and lobbyists. We will enhance the flow of information between citizens and government—in both directions—by involving the public in the work of government agencies. We will not simply solicit opinions, but will also use new technology to tap into the vast expertise of the American citizenry, for the benefit of government and our democracy.
Americans want real reform that will help them pay their medical bills and put the country on the path to energy independence. They are tired of lobbyists standing in their way. So we’ll end the abuse of no-bid contracts and tell the drug companies and the oil companies and the insurance industry that, while they may get a seat at the table in Washington, they don’t get to buy every chair. We will institute a gift ban so that no lobbyist can curry favor with the Administration. We will close the revolving door that
has allowed people to use their position in the Administration as a stepping-stone to further their lobbying careers. We support campaign finance reform to reduce the influence of moneyed special interests, including public financing of campaigns combined with free television and radio time. As a national party, we will not take any contributions from Political Action Committees during this election.