Larry Lessig launched “Change Congress” in the hopes of one day having a Congress filled with lawmakers who support four moves that ensure the purity of the governing process and protect our democracy:
1. Eliminating money from lobbyists and PACs.
2. Ending earmarks.
3. Creating greater transparency in Congress.
4. Ushering in publicly financed campaigns.
Good government groups have always sought broader reforms, however, and have always gone into greater detail. If you want to see what the entire good government platform looks like, check out the Transparency in Government Act 2008. It was created by the Sunlight Foundation and is thoroughly badass.
TGA08 (my nickname) goes beyond Lessig’s four goals. It wants to put all FOIA responses online, for example, and has a host of measures to increase transparency in the executive branch. According to John Wonderlich, the Program Director at the Sunlight Foundation, TGA is more focused on information access than on process reform, meaning it doesn’t advocate the elimination of earkmarks, as Lessig does, but does support making all information pertaining to earmarks public.
The Sunlight Foundation is inviting everyday folks to comment on the bill and all its many provisions. “We made a conscious decision to turn to the Internet community rather than turning to members of Congress first,” says Wonderlich. “We think we’ll end up with better legislation if it comes out of a community effort.” One of the core ideas of Wonderlich’s project is that if you give everyday citizens access to government (and legislation) you get better government (and better legislation).
Wonderlich says The Sunlight Foundation has no immediate plans to use an ally on Capitol Hill to introduce TGA08. Wouldn’t it be revolutionary if a presidential candidate made something like this bill a key part of his or her platform, and then implemented even half of it after taking office?