It was weird to see David Eaves in person when my first impression of him was through a video from seven years ago. Breathing human beings are more intimidating yet more relatable than their virtual counterparts.
Anyways, our discussion brought up the idea of an “open government.” I’m still not 100% sure what an open government entails or looks like, but I imagine it is accessible and easier to navigate for both the general public and government employees. Incorporating technology and the Internet into the government seems like a no-brainer to me; it’s already an inherent part of our lives. Why would we not want a more well-informed and involved population?
Honestly, I think that Donald Trump won the election in large part due to his Twitter account. It was honest, raw, and accessible. Beyond the face value of his immature trash-talking and whiny tantrums, people saw a real person. He clearly has the open sharing down pat, but I wonder how our democracy could improve if internal government communication were emphasized as well. It seems like the liberals and conservatives are split now more than ever, but I think intercommunication of the two groups would reap more benefits than this perpetual echo chamber.
For example, immigration and citizenship policies could be vastly improved. With our chaotic political climate, people are immediately picking sides. While I applaud people for desiring to stay informed, sometimes (most times) Facebook is not the best source for political information. If the government had more comprehensible information available online, then I think everyone would be better informed and could sufficiently draw their own conclusions. Of course, this creates the problem of biased information and political agendas created by the people who determine which data sets and information get published.
One app I use to stay informed is Countable (I highly recommend). First of all, the interface is extremely user friendly and easy to understand. Countable notifies you of Congressional votes in real time. You can click on a certain case and read about both sides of the debate while seeing which side your representative voted for. If you disagree with their vote, then you can swipe on their picture and easily find their phone number to tell them what you think. It’s a wonderful app that encourages people to think beyond their black and white opinions while offering convenient ways to act on them.
Nevertheless, I wish my dad had something like this when he was growing up. My dad has become jaded in his political involvement which I don’t really blame him for. He was born in Laos during the Vietnam War and came to the U.S. as a refugee. To this day, he doesn’t exercise his right to vote because he doesn’t believe it makes a difference. On the other hand, my stepfather is an undocumented Mexican immigrant who deeply wishes he could vote. It’s been interesting to see the complexities of the American citizenship system, yet I still don’t completely understand it. Why is my father more deserving of citizenship than my stepfather? The process takes one million years too many, and its still not concrete or secure.
By creating more internal government communication, I think we could standardize the citizenship process in a way that makes it more approachable. Most immigrants are here to find more opportunities or jobs. They would pay your hecking taxes if you let them. However, the vague, complex process and constant articles of random ICE raids deter them from it. I am tired of hearing ill-informed people who were born into this country beg the question, “Why don’t they just become citizens like everyone else?” Coming from Nebraska, I was exposed to these comments on a daily basis. I clearly remember one girl asking, “But, if we built a wall, how would I vacation in Cancun?” Yeah, just let that sink in for a while.
Anyway, I am interested in how Estonia and India have incorporated technology into their citizenship process. I don’t know enough yet about how it works, but it seems readily available to everyone. If the United States could draft a similar system, then maybe we could end this immigration debate once and for all? That’s pretty ambitious, but all I’m saying is that it seems like everyone is fighting the wrong battle. Like, if the government really cared about how many people knew when the constitution was written or which territories the United States bought from France in 1803, then most current citizens would be deported. Some conservatives simply want immigrants to pay taxes which they would, but it’s not that simple. If we created an online template that was informative and standard for everyone, then this could eliminate all the ambiguous and insecure hoops we make immigrants jump through.