Around here, we like to ask questions. We think Americans aren’t asking enough questions. Our advisory board member Andrea Batista Schlesinger even wrote a book about it: The Death of “Why?” – The Decline of Questioning and the Future of Democracy. We need our citizens asking questions of our elected leaders and political candidates, instead of accepting spoon-fed answers about the issues that affect our daily lives.
The biggest problem for you or me is that it’s not easy to ask tough questions to those in power. We had to run around the country to get the 2008 presidential candidates to talk to us about elections and voting. But it’s getting easier. Here’s how.
In 2008 we participated in a project called 10Questions that hand-delivered our questions to some of the presidential candidates. And they answered. Now, you have the power to use the same forum to talk with your local and national leaders in advance of the 2010 midterm elections. The Knight Foundation has funded 10Questions and a major group of media partners, including Why Tuesday?, is working to bring the forum to you. Micah Sifry of the Personal Democracy Forum was one of the early drivers of the project, and he writes that it’s quite easy to use.
The way it works is simple: anyone can post a question (video or text), anyone can vote those up or down (one vote per question per IP address), anyone can embed a question, a race, a state, or the entire country via a fully functional widget, on any website they want. To post or vote on a question, you just need a Google Account, as the site is powered by a souped-up version of the Google Moderator question platform (and for which we are grateful to our technology partners Google and YouTube.) No personal user information is being retained, though the site will allow anyone to view where questions and votes are coming from geographically, and to track the daily up-down voting on any question.
Between now and September 14, voters will have their say. Then we’ll submit the top 10 questions (minus ones that are obscene or inappropriate) to the relevant candidates, and give them until October 14 to post their replies. After that we’ll ask the public to again vote on whether they think the candidates actually answered the questions.
The 2010 midterms edition of 10Questions.com covers 43 of the most competitive races across the country, in 11 states: Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, Michigan, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
You have the power, and now the tool, to get answers from the powers that be. It’s easy. Start now. Use the widget below. And visit 10Questions.com to do your part to help strengthen our democracy.
Human question mark photo by doberagi on Flickr.