A lot of what we do is describing and explaining problems: political conflicts, protests, wars. The Atlantic Sentinel tries to help readers understand the news better, often by looking back and placing events in an historical or international context. But sometimes we have ideas to improve things. You’ll find those stories under better democracy.
British prime minister David Cameron’s pitch for stability on Wednesday did not impress everyone.
The Guardian‘s Michael White, for one, found the Conservative Party leader’s annual conference speech wanting. The promise of more of the same “is pretty flimsy stuff,” he writes.
White believes that Cameron’s record pales in comparison to Margaret Thatcher’s, the Conservative prime minister who thoroughly liberalized Britain’s economy in the 1980s and decidedly shifted the center ground in British politics to the right. “The Tories’ current crop of leaders looks feeble by comparison.”
Florida senator Marco Rubio struck a familiar chord on Monday when, in a speech announcing his candidacy for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, he argued that too many Americans were starting to question whether the “American Dream” is still within their reach.
Those Americans include “hard-working families, living paycheck to paycheck, one unexpected expense away from disaster,” Rubio said; “young Americans, unable to start a career, a business or a family, because they owe thousands in student loans for degrees that did not lead to jobs”; and “small businessowners, left to struggle under the weight of more taxes, more regulations and more government.”
In a speech in Detroit in February, Rubio’s most formidable contender for the Republican nomination, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, similarly lamented, “Tens of millions of Americans no longer see a clear path to rise above their challenges.”
With the Scottish referendum on independence drawing closer, the one certain thing is that, no matter how the region votes, British or English politics will be irreversibly changed.
The history of tension between England and the parliament in Westminster can be traced back to the Scotland Act of 1998, which gave Scotland its own legislature.
Since then, affairs that affect only Scotland have been dealt with in Edinburgh. Lawmakers in Westminster have no say anymore in issues to do with transportation or the National Health Service north of the border.
Because affairs that affect only England are still settled in Westminster, however, this has led to the curious situation in which Scottish lawmakers can influence English policy but English lawmakers have no say over Scottish policy.
Just a few days ago, President Barack Obama and his staff announced their Open Government Directive. In a memo, beginning with the lines, “My administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in government,” the White House announced its intentions to work toward a form of “collaborative democracy,” in which citizens would be able to input their ideas and contributions toward governance.
With programs like Peer-to-Patent already around, collaborative government seems closer than ever. Its tool? The Internet. Or, the “tubes,” as disgraced former senator Ted Stevens referred to them.
The directive lays out a specific timetable that can be found online and that orders all executive departments to create “open government” websites within ninety days of December 8, 2009.
It seems quite clear that this is a major change in how citizens will be able to deal with government. What is the nature of the change? As Clay Shirky tells us, “the impulse to share important information is a basic one, but its manifestations have often been clunky.” Read more “A Government by the People”