“The modern girl’s guide to picking the leaders of the free world.”
As our semester draws to a close, I would like to give a shout-out to my primary source for amalgamated political news stories: citizenjanepolitics.com.
CJP is a non-partisan, independent news blog. It is not snarky or opinionated. It does what most blogs do not do — presents just the facts (plus a few extras, but those are not opinion pieces, just fun stuff). If I would like to know how experts or citizen bloggers feel about the new changes of power, or who said what in the campaigns, I could go to any host of other blog sources (like the ones we monitored earlier in the semester). These, however, taint the news with opinions, even those that pretend they don’t. It is now typical for the reader to gather the facts and turn to the news for analysis and opinoin. There is certainly a place for opinions about current events, but I have found it a relief to find such a high-quality and reliable site. Citizen Jane Politics is a news outlet featurign all political and major news, but focusing on female issues. The point of this blog was to increase female political awareness, because more women than men vote, but more men than women work in public office. CJP is never snarky, always honest, and honestly fair. Bravo, CJP. I recommend you to all my friends, Janes and Joes alike.
DC’s Right to Vote
The 2006 Census estimates that 581,530 people live in the District of Columbia. These nearly six hundred thousand residents pay “state” and federal taxes (the second highest income tax per capita in the nation). They are governed under the Constitution, just like the rest of the nearly 300 million American citizens. Literally hundreds of cases presided over by the U.S. Supreme Court include verdicts which specify that their rulings apply in the District as one of the states. And yet, while the amount of this population is on par with or bigger than many states, these 581,530 people have no vote in Congress.
This never bothered me too much, that is, until I had to change my residency from Illinois to the District of Columbia a few years ago. It bugged me that I love this city, but I probably won’t live here when I “grow up” and have a family of my own because I cannot live and act as a citizen of the United States of America without that most essential citizenship right — suffrage. Our representative in Congress, Elenor Holmes Norton, has a voice to argue bills but cannot vote. When Mayor Fenty declined an invitation to sit next to the First Lady at the State of the Union address because the Bush Administration does not support DC voting rights, I began looking into the matter myself.
This scholarly article by Senator Hatch (see above) outlines a clear, consice, and convincing arguement for DC to be treated as a Congressional district, thus having a vote in the House of Representatives. I don’t think that DC should have two senators like the other 50 states, but I also disagree that perhaps DC should just be ceded back to Virginia and Maryland. Hatch’s point that hit me hardest is that in 1800, Virginia and Maryland ceded this district land at the request of the fledgling government so that it could establish a federal city. The people living in the district did not break away from the country or secede from the Union. By witholding any representation, the US government treats these 581,530 people (and those 200 years into the past) as if they had violated a law and forfeited their rights. Even Americans living abroad may now vote in US elections. It’s the beginning of a new administration. President-elect Obama has indicated that he supports Fenty and Holmes Norton in their quest to end “taxation without representation.” I’m not going to be a lifelong resident here, but this is a cause worth supporting.
The biggest difference between 1972 and 2008 is the movement from pack and broadcast journalism to personalization and micro-targeting. Pack journalism and broadcasting certainly still exist, and are likely still the most prominent forms of mass communication. Personalization is the present and the future of the media, and its vehicle is the Internet. Back then, the most efficient form of getting out a candidate’s message was to have the pack of journalists (the boys on the bus) write updates of the campaign and publish them in newspapers or in quick television sound byte broadcasts. Technology has evolved to allow personalized messaging through emails and specific websites. Today’s tools are generally quick and easy compared to the old way. Then, a journalist had to be part of a newspaper or television channel to share information in any meaningful way. Now, anyone can start a blog to not only comment on, but also produce, news. The power has devolved from the centers of power back to ordinary citizens who wish to take part in the process of campaigning. Successful candidates realize this and target their messages to individuals through emails and on their web sites. When journalists in the pack miss something, it doesn’t get swept under the rug like it used to; now, independent members of the news media may find a platform for publishing any and all information through blogs. Then, television ads distilled a candidate’s message or an attack on a rival into 30-second spots to be sent out to the masses and absorbed as they will. There was no conversation, just the controlled and manipulated broadcast from the powers of the campaign. Now, those ads still exist, but the Internet provides the platform for citizens to react. When these ads are on YouTube, people may comment on them. People are generating their own ads, their own content and messages about the same candidates. The Internet provides a tool for the voices of the people to be entered into this conversation. It’s no longer a shady lecture – today’s campaign communication is turning into a bright and participatory seminar.