Friday, July 07, 2006

Political Wiki

Jimbo Wales, founder of wikipedia and all around crazy internet character, has started up a new wiki, and I think it's a brilliant idea.

Campaigns Wikia
is devoted to hot button political issues, with the stated goal of making politics more about substance than style.

What I like about this tool has nothing to do with Gay Marriage or the War on Terror, as active as those topics will surely be on the site. It's not about giving political bloggers a hang out (shudder at the thought!) The real promise is in changing the dynamics of local politics.

Local politics affects our lives WAYYYY more than who the president is or which guy promises enough favors to raise enough cash to be our congressperson. Yet we know nothing about the races or the issues. It's these races where we're most likely to vote for names we recognize, or down party lines.

Politicos like it that way, and so they make sure that the issues are presented as dull, dense and boring to keep us lazy and snoozing while special interests - mostly developers - call the shots.

Campaign Wiki promises to break down issues like sprawl, urban density, water and land use into chewable bites that we want to digest. It also offers a dynamic tool to shine a light on the pitiful way our politicians are bought and sold.

At one point when I was living in Tampa, four of the seven county commissioners were owned by one guy - Ralph Hughes, who owned a concrete business (big suprise, these 4 were as pro-development as you can get... keep pouring that concrete). When I say owned, I mean that Ralph, his wife, his kids, his lawyer, his registered agent, etc, etc, had contributed the maximum to each of their campaigns.

That's terrible for our democracy and pretty crappy for our lives, too. I'm looking forward to seeing what Jimbo's new tool does about it.


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