One phone application is leading the way for increasing political involvement, and holding Congress accountable at a time where the American government seems to be failing.
It’s no secret that public opinion has very little effect on public policy decisions. The major influence Congressmen feel is from political lobbyists and Political Action Committees (PACS), which are largely funded by wealthy corporate citizens.
(ABOVE) Represent.us brilliantly illustrates the current state of political influence in America.
We now live in an era where political opinions are sent to our peers on Facebook, instead of state representatives (surprisingly, people used to write to their State Reps to support their interests). But there is hope! One smartphone application seeks to remedy this problem with the utmost convenience.
Countable, an app and web service founded by Bart Myers and Peter Arzhintar, allows users to review upcoming legislation before the US congress and vote on the legislation in an almost Tinder-like fashion. The real kicker is that the app then automatically generates a message and sends it on to their local state representative.
Bills currently being pushed through congress can give users a “who’s who” perspective, by showing Congress members’ support or opposition through on-the-record quotes. Each piece of legislation is summarized by Pro and Con arguments, a short summary, and progress details.
This app offers an easy method of civic engagement with the potential to influence our state representatives to listen to their constituents. If every person in America had an application like this, I imagine the effect would be something close to a direct democracy, where every individual has a say in decision making – that is if the state representatives listened. In the very least, it could be a technology that brings us one step closer to a representative democracy, and one step away from the oligarchy that America has become.