Thursday, December 04, 2008

If you weren't sure whether grassroots matter...

Check out today's Washington Post article "On Health Care, Obama Policymakers Turn to Campaign Tools." It reports on the myriad ways transition team players, like former Senator Tom Daschle, are turning to real live citizens for ideas on how to improve the health care system. On a recent conference call with a thousand upporters, Daschle noted that the new administration is planning listening sessions, town halls and even more online outreach efforts in the next month.

"President-elect Obama believes that change really comes from the ground up, not from Washington," according to Senator Salazar from Colorado, who is helping with health care summits for the new administration.

And people seem to be responding! Several thousand comments have been left on the transition team's website outlining options for improving health services. In fact, a recent interactive online conversation combined video with postings from citizens to try to answer the question "what worries you most about the health-care system for our country?" Visitors were able to score the suggestions with which they agreed the most (or least) through a "Digg" like system.

Perhaps most important, though, is how the transition is using technology to make health care policy issues real for both citizens and politicians. As Daschle pointed out, in response to the recounting of a personal story about small business people struggling to provide health insurance, "[w]hen I was in the Senate, it was stories like that, probably more than all the factual information, that really moved you to want to act."

Clearly, the personal, relevant compelling stories of citizens can make a difference. Maybe it's time to think about how you can be involved in the debate!

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