The words everyone is using to describe President-Elect Obama’s transition is “hit the ground running.” Of all the aspects of the transition, I wanted to call out Change.gov, the new website dedicated to the transition. There’s not much up there yet: Obama’s election-night Grant Park speech, Obama’s first press conference and first radio address as president-elect, the announcement that Rahm Emanuel will be Chief of Staff and transition co-chair Valerie Jarrett’s MTP appearance. Of course, it has been less than a week since the election – there’s only so much that could get done in that time, even when you hit the ground running.
Most interesting about the site is how it invites average American citizens to participate. Maybe not surprising, given the Politics 2.0 campaign Obama ran, but it’s nice to see an administration that’s interested in my story about the election, my vision for what America can be and my ideas about solving our biggest challenges. Obviously, it remains to be seen how an Obama administration will use this information, but there’s little reason to ask for everyone’s opinions if you’re not really interested in reading or acting on them.
The one criticism I’d make about the site is that it looks like these stories, visions and ideas aren’t publicly published to the site. Obama’s campaign site had My.BarackObama (which will “live on”) but there’s no corollary My.Change.gov – at least, not yet. On the other hand, with only 71 days until we drop “elect” from “president-elect”, maybe it makes more sense to hold off on deploying that kind of infrastructure to a more permanent home. Personally, I’m rooting for My.WhiteHouse.gov. My.USA.gov, My.House.Gov and My.Senate.Gov would also be nice to have. Since Change.gov doesn’t publicly publish stories, visions or ideas, I wanted to post my idea here as well.
(Side note, is it just me or is http://www.usa.gov/ a pretty crappy home page?)
Obviously, there are immediate economic issues to deal with and we need to bring the troops home from Iraq. But after those, I would like to see the Obama administration put renewable energy at the top of it’s priority list. I believe that investing in renewable energy as well as the infrastructure to deliver that energy (the so called “smart grid”) should be our top priority because I believe it provides the most bang for the buck when it comes policy.
First off, it will create jobs which is probably the most critical step for turning the economy around. We’ve lost 1.2 million jobs in the past year and unemployment is at a 14 year high. Second, I’m a big believer in Obama’s long-stated goal of eliminating our dependency on foreign oil. This would have the dual benefit of improving our own economy while reducing the economic strength of petro-dictatorships, some of which sponsor terrorism. Third, shifting to clean renewable energy will reduce our carbon emissions. We need to do more on the climate change front, but it’s a good start. Finally, a smart grid would essentially be a new nationwide market for energy. Even though many Republicans are in the pocket of big oil, they are also big believers in free markets and individual responsibility, so maybe smart grid legislation can be passed in a bipartisan way rather than over the Republican’s wishes.
There seems to be a lot of indication already that energy is Obama’s top priority after an economic stimulus package, so maybe he doesn’t need to hear it from me. But that doesn’t change the fact that the soon-to-be President is continuing to embrace to concepts of Politics 2.0 in an effort to bring Americans together to solve our toughest challenges. Here’s hoping he keeps it up long after “elect” is dropped from his title.