The Perils of Participatory Democracy

Over at, the President-elect’s transition website, the incoming administration is continuing its efforts to tap the power of social media. Yesterday this took the form of an “Open for Questions” tool that encouraged readers to submit questions and issues they believe the new president should address.

Participation in Open for Questions outpaced our expectations, and we’re looking forward to rolling it out again next week. We’re tremendously excited about the promise of tools like this that offer Americans a level of access that has historically been hard to come by. By voting questions up, users have been able to convey to our team which major issues — like the auto industry, health care, ethical standards, and others — are the most important to this community.

Yes, those are certainly weighty and important issues. I might throw in Iraq, Afghanistan, national security, etc., but that’s just me. So… which of these subjects received the most votes as the most pressing issue facing the nation?

“Will you consider legalizing marijuana so that the government can regulate it, tax it, put age limits on it, and create millions of new jobs and create a billion dollar industry right here in the U.S.?”

Nicely phrased as an economic imperative, and the libertarian in me favors legalization, although my personal interest in this issue has long since passed. But I’m picturing a scene in college dorm rooms across the country, a smoky bong next to the laptop, as America’s newest voters engage in political discourse to shape the nation’s agenda: “Dude! Now you log in and vote!”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *