The Hill on The Net
Electronic Update #9


4/25/97

The Internet Threat to Congress?
A couple of weeks ago one of Washington's power couples, journalists Cokie and Steve Roberts, published a syndicated column titled "Internet Could Become a Threat To Representative Government". The article concludes that citizen access to their elected representatives in Congress is a threat to the institution itself, contending that the ability to send e-mail to Congress or engage a member in an online chat is leading us down a path to a direct democracy of the type our founding fathers sought to avoid when they developed our current representative form of government. It seems they fear that in the near future we'll soon all be tuning into the Democracy channel via WebTV, deciding whether to "Click here to Ratify the Chemical Weapons Treaty" or "Click here to Launch Pre-Emptive Strike".

Understandably, many on the net have taken issue with the Roberts' column (myself included), and many rebuttals have appeared on the Net. Their mistake is in the huge leap they take from online access to elected officials and government information to direct democracy. I believe that rather than being a threat to Congress and our system of government, the Internet has instead strengthened our democracy by increasing access to information and providing a new means to engage the public in the process, and in doing so can help to develop the type of informed citizenry that Jefferson is speaking about in my .sig below.

But forget what I think, read and decide for yourself...

Cokie & Steve Roberts - The Salt Lake Tribune

Brock Meeks - MSNBC

Jon Katz - The Netizen

Andy Brack - .netpulse

That's all for now!

Cheers,

Chris

Copyright 1997 by Chris Casey


Electronic Updates #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7 ,#8 & #10.


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