Demand Question TimeFebruary 4, 2010 - by Donny Shaw
Last week, the news cycle stopped for almost a full day to marvel at something new that happened in politics that day. For more than an hour on national television, President Obama and members of Congress were engaged in an unscripted, off-the-cuff debate about the policy issues that affect us. This was something different from the overly cautious debates between candidates that just barely brush the surface of the issues. It was different than state-of-the-union style speeches that are more politicking and rhetoric than real substance. It was a frank discussion, like what you might engage in with your wonkier-than-average friends at a bar, and people across the country were transfixed by it.
Almost everybody I talk politics with agrees that too much of what our politics — be it on health care, climate change, taxes, war, whatever — is tainted by a few things that people feel they are essentially powerless against. The influence of special interests, politicians that care more about their careers than the people they represent and the constant spin of the media are driving people away from the political process — the process that affects almost every part of our lives — more than ever before.
But what we saw last week was uplifting. Dare I say that there was some “hope” there. Maybe even a little “change.” A room full of elected officials put their talking points away for an hour and delved into the real meat of the issues and how best to solve them. There was disagreement and partisanship for sure, but there was also a sense that an actual conversation based on fact and logic was still possible in our politics. It was a rare glimpse of politicians as real people, and their was a sense that they thought the rest us us were real, thinking people too; not just votes to manipulate with focus-group spin.
A new coalition, Demand Question Time, has formed asking for a “Question Time,” where the President tales questions from the House and Senate caucuses in both parties, as a regular feature of our democracy. The coalition covers the full political spectrum and tons of non-partisan good government groups (incl. OpenCongress), because a functional political process and a strong democracy are principles supersede policy differences.
Since they launched yesterday, the group has gathered more than 8,500 signatures on a petition in support of regular “Question Time” events. They want to get to 10,000 by the end of today. Can you help them get there by signing the petition now and then sharing it with your friends on Facebook and Twitter?