草根行動主義不只是競選活動(Grassroots Activism is More than a Campaign)
"But the super-sized business of politics creates a lapse in responsibility. Who’s minding the store while everyone is out on the stump?”
The cyclical, cash-rich environment of political campaigns is fertile ground for consultants and vendors who are paid premiums to hit the ground running with ads and talking points that fit into the continuous news cycles. Even better for the professional class are the long campaigns, when budgets matter less than the struggle to win every single day. Now more than ever, as has often been said, politics is a multi-billion dollar “show business for ugly people.”
But the super-sized business of politics creates a lapse in responsibility. Who’s minding the store while everyone is out on the stump?Endless hunger for campaign news marginalizes the work of government and creates headlines like this one from National Public Radio’s Website on April 9, 2008: “Petraeus Hearing a Campaign Stop for Candidates.” A significant Senate hearing on the future of the Iraq War, a matter of national urgency, was turned into a photo opportunity for the presidential candidates.
但是這個超級龐大的政治生意，卻帶來了責任的消逝。當每個人都站在競選活動的講台上時，誰還想要顧店呢？"對於競選活動相關新聞的無盡渴求，讓治理的工作變得邊緣化，產生了類似這一則於2009年4月9日張貼在國家公共廣播電台的網站上的新聞標題的情境："聽證會變成候選人的競選活動"(Petraeus Hearing a Campaign Stop for Candidates)。參議院一場重要的、關於伊拉克戰爭的聽證會，卻變成總統候選人搏版面的機會。
Last year, MSNBC devoted 28% of its airtime to election coverage, while Fox News devoted 15% and CNN 12%. According to the Project for Excellence in Journalism, about 2% of television news coverage in March 2008 was dedicated to the Iraq war. Election coverage is exciting, full of all of the possibilities of competition and change. Governing, conversely, is a labyrinth of red tape that often reeks of failures and false starts. We yearn to be hopeful but we have a country to govern.
去年，MSNBC 花了28%的節目時段在報導選舉相關的新聞，Fox News 則是15%，CNN是12%。根據卓越新聞計畫(Project for Excellence in Journalism)的研究，在2008年3月，大約只有2%的電視新聞是報導伊拉克戰爭。選舉新聞很刺激，充滿競爭與改變的各種可能性。相反地，政府的運作則是官僚的迷宮，充滿失敗與錯誤起步的惡臭味。我們嚮往能充滿希望，但是我們有一個國家需要運作與管理。
Governance is not sexy or popular work. But if citizens do not focus on what happens in our national legislature, another four years will fly by with few accomplishments. Digital technology makes campaign obsession all the more appealing. Americans are consuming more election news online than ever before. A recent study from the Pew Internet and American Life Project revealed that twice as many Americans are reading political news online than in 2004.15
政府治理並不是一件吸引人或受人歡迎的工作，但是如果公民不重視我們的立法機構裡發生了什麼事，另一個四年將會很快過去、很少建樹。數位科技讓競選活動更讓人著迷，美國人比以往花更多的時間在網路上瀏覽選舉資訊。Pew Internet and American Life Project 最近的研究指出，比起2004年，現在有多了一倍的美國人在網路上閱讀選舉新聞。
But when our candidates morph into elected officials, when the time for real governing arrives, they need to bring us voters and constituents along with them.Today, advocacy groups such as Moveon.org or the National Rifle Association ask their members to e-mail elected officials or send form letters to newspapers on their behalf. That’s it as far as citizen participation in governance goes, even though it is one of the ideals our nation was founded upon. Most elected officials want us to stay out of their way once the election is over.
但是當我們的候選人當選了、變形成為政府官員，當真正的治理工作來臨時，他們需要我們這些選民與投票者在他們身邊。現在，像是 Moveon.org 或美國槍枝協會(National Rifle Association)這類的遊說團體，會請求他們的成員以個人名義寄送電子郵件給當選者、或是寄送信件給報紙。這就是公民參與在政府的治理，我們的建國理想之一。不過大部份被我們選出來的政府官員，都希望在選舉結束之後，我們不會擋著他們的路。
But who says governance is only for elected officials and non-prof-its? Grassroots political engagement shouldn’t end on Election Day. A candidate’s online support base is a valuable commodity that can be used as a mighty civic tool, within the legal limits on fundraising and lobbying, when a candidate becomes an elected official. Just as candidates ask us to participate in an online phone bank to get out the vote in a primary state, a Senator or Representative can ask us to phone bank other citizens to support passage of health care reform in the Senate.
The White House’s website has come a long way in eight years, as have the web operations of the congressional and Senatorial Committees. I get e-mails from all of them. But they usually just ask me for money, or tell me nasty things about the opposing side. They don’t engage me civically. The most engaging online effort from the White House is the “Barney-Cam” video series about Bush’s Scottie dog!
Barack Obama could be the first president to use the Internet as a tool for real civic action, in addition to electioneering.16 Obama’s most significant legislative accomplishment as a U.S. Senator is the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, co-spon-sored with John McCain. The Act directs the White House Office of Management and Budget to create a free, public website (www.USAs-pending.gov) listing all recipients of federal grants, contracts, and other payments. On his campaign website, Obama promises to use digital technology to open up government to the public, and appoint the first White House
Chief Technology Officer. If he wins, we must hold him to this promise and more.
Barack Obama 可能會是第一位在選舉活動之外，運用網際網路作為真正的公民行動工具的總統。Obama 在擔任美國參議員時最重要的立法成就，就是與 John McCain 共同堆動的聯邦撥款問責性及透明度法案(Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act)，該法案要求白宮的管理及預算辦公室(Office of Management and Budget)建立一個免費的公開網站(http://www.usaspending.gov/)，列出所有聯邦補助款、合約與其他費用的收受者的資訊。在他的競選網站上，Obama 承諾會使用數位科技將政府公開給大眾，並任命第一位白宮技術長(Chief Technology Officer)。如果他贏得選舉，我們必須要求他遵守承諾。
This time around, leaders cannot squander the energy of voters, only to build it back up again as the next election approaches. In this extended 2008 primary election season, the volume of political engagement and media attention is remarkable. But if we are to achieve real change in the “off-season,” such as health care reform, we will need our citizens online and ready to act.
註15: Kohut, Andrew, “The Internet Gains in Politics,” Pew Internet and American Life Project, http://pewInternet.org/PPF/r/234/report_display.asp, downloaded on April 21, 2008.
註16: I am indebted to my friend and colleague Matt Wilson for this discussion.
About Morra Aarons-Mele
Morra Aarons-Mele is a blogger and political consultant who is also a graduate student at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. In between classes, she covers politics as Political Director for BlogHer.com, the largest site for women bloggers. Morra is also a columnist for the HuffingtonPost.com and TechPresident.com.
Morra Aarons-Mele 是部落客、政治顧問，也是哈佛大學甘迺迪學院的研究生。在課堂之外，她負責全美最大的女性部落格社群 BlogHer.com 的政治議題。她也是 HuffingtonPost.com 和 TechPresident.com 的專欄作者。