TheMiddleClass.org: Your Toolkit for Holding Congress Accountable
by DMIer, Tue Oct 30, 2007 at 08:20:09 AM EDT
Dream with me for a minute. Imagine that we-the-people could easily find out how our members of Congress voted on the bills that are most important to us. Imagine that there was a place that explained clearly and simply how those votes really impact America's current and aspiring middle class.
And, while we're dreaming, imagine that Congress knew that Americans of all walks of life could keep an eye on them, comparing their rhetoric in favor of strengthening and expanding the middle class with their votes.
Wake up and smell the Web 2.0 glory.
The Drum Major Institute for Public Policy is launching TheMiddleClass.org, a new website that lets you do all those things and more.
For years, the Drum Major Institute has released an annual scorecard grading every member of Congress on their votes on legislation of significance to the current and aspiring middle class. Users like you have made the DMI Scorecard a wild success by reading it, sharing it, blogging about it. And that's why we decided that once a year just wasn't enough. We need to give you continuously updated information year-round.
With TheMiddleClass.org, you can check throughout the year for our signature DMI analysis of key legislation as members vote on it. You can track the scores of each member in the lead-up to the release of their final 2007 grade. And, you can easily build a custom widget for your own website, where you can share the information that matters most to you.
* Want to learn more about the SCHIP bill? Click here.
* Want to know how Montana's state delegation voted on the bill? Click here.
* Want to see how Senator Max Baucus voted on this bill, and others? Click here.
Netroots Advisory Council Saves the Day
The idea for turning our traditional annual scorecard into a dynamic website came from our many conversations with netroots users of our original site. Specifically, the site's new incarnation was developed with the guidance and help of DMI's Netroots Advisory Council -- a group of bloggers, including a few I'm sure you guys know, who help DMI figure out how to make our tools as helpful to bloggers as possible.
One of the ideas we got through these conversations was to develop fully customizable widgets (thanks Advomatic!). People can create a custom widget that tracks their state congressional delegation or an issue area they care a lot about or actually any combination of lawmakers they'd like to track the records of. You can also create a small widget that is just a search field where your blog readers can type in keywords to find the content they want. Another widget option has a blank field where blog readers can type their zip code to see who their legislators are and how they voted (try it here!).
Did I mention that we have all the site content as comma separated values so you can make your own mash-up combining our content with your own?
If you make something cool using our csv, rss feeds or widget generator please tell me in this thread on the DMIBlog.
I'll highlight the best submissions and uses of the scorecard in a future DMIBlog post.
In short, this site was built for using. And if you have suggestions on how we could make the information even more usable let me know.
TheMiddleClass.org is more than a way to follow what Congress is doing. We're putting the power in your hands. Using our custom online tools, you can build your own scorecard to post on your web site or blog!
Visit TheMiddleClass.org today (and tomorrow, and next week...)