Proud to be an American

I’m actually a dual UK/US citizen but today I feel extremely proud to be an American. This is what real democracy is all about. Barack Obama says it best:

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

He highlighted that his candidacy was not cooked up by political insiders (as happens in the UK) but was a movement fuelled by the will of the common people. And it was the people he thanked in his victory speech. I love that optimistic belief that people can and do make a difference if they are determined in their dreams. It’s for this reason I wrote ‘Your Right to Know’, it’s for this reason I took MPs to the High Court to get them to be accountable directly to their constituents. It’s for this reason that we all have a chance at making the UK a more transparent and democratic country.

So on this historic day for democracy why not send in a freedom of information request? You can begin putting pressure on your local officials to stop being so secretive and elitist and start sharing information and power with the citizens. It may not be a call to arms but at least it should prompt you to write a letter.

Make your request at www.whatdotheyknow.com

2 Responses to “Proud to be an American”

  1. Mike Law says:

    Interestingly (and possibly coincidentally), I got a response from my local council (Newham) to a FOIA request I submitted in September; I wrote to them on Tuesday reminding them that they hadn’t even acknowledged my request (their usual tactic when they don’t want to pass on info).

    It was regarding a subject that I have been keeping a watching brief on for the last 3 years and one which causes a great deal of embarrassment for the elected mayor.

    I was gob-smaked when I not only got a response, but I got a copy of the document I was asking questions about – I hadn’t asked for it as I thought I didn’t stand a chance of getting it.

    Things they are a’changing…

  2. heather says:

    Excellent news Mike! Things only change when people care enough to ensure they do. So good on you for making and chasing your FOI request. And I’m sure your respect and confidence in Newham council has improved just a little bit because they answered your question without quibbling. I often wonder when public bodies will wake up to the benefits of FOI in terms of how it improves their overall reputation with the public. I know my repsect for public bodies directly follows from the way they handle my requests and it is usually a spot-on indicator of their overall competence and attitude towards the public.

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