We're experiencing a great movement towards networked, grassroots democracy, and anything citizens can do to promote that is good for the country.
The Open Debate Coalition's principles mark a significant step forward in that direction. The Coalition asks that the videos of the presidential and vice presidential debates be released to the public for distribution on the Web, not kept by the television networks that air them. The point is to allow citizens to become a bigger part of the democratic process, to allow them to watch the debates at will and to share their own assessments and critiques.
This is a "big tent" operation; rarely do we see Arianna Huffington and Newt Gingrich, Glenn Reynolds and Markos Moulitsas, agreeing on anything.
Here's part of what we're asking:
Dear Senator McCain and Senator Obama,
We are a coalition of people and organizations across the ideological spectrum asking you to make this year's presidential debates more "of the people" than ever before by bringing them more fully into the Internet age.
Specifically, we ask you to embrace these two "open debate" principles for the 2008 debates:
1) The presidential debates are for the benefit of the public. Therefore, the right to speak about the debates ought to be "owned" by the public, not controlled by the media.
2) "Town hall" Internet questions should be chosen by the people, not solely by the media
This is a historic election. The signers of this letter don't agree on every issue. But we do agree that in order for Americans to make the best decision for president, we need open debates that are "of the people" in the ways described above. You have the power to make that happen, and we ask you to do so. Thank you for your willingness to take these ideas to heart. If you have any questions, please contact:
Lawrence Lessig - Professor, Stanford Law School & Founder, Center for Internet and Society
Glenn Reynolds - Professor, University of Tennessee Law, and founder of Instapundit.com blog
Craig Newmark - Founder, Craigslist
Jimmy Wales - Founder, Wikipedia
David Kralik - Director of Internet Strategy, Newt Gingrich's American Solutions
Eli Pariser - Executive Director, MoveOn.org Political Action
Adam Green - Director of Strategic Campaigns, MoveOn.org Political Action
Mindy Finn - Republican strategist, former Mitt Romney Online Director
Patrick Ruffini - Republican consultant, Bush/Cheney 2004 eCampaign Director
Arianna Huffington - Founder, Huffington Post
Markos Moulitsas - Founder, DailyKos.com
Jon Henke - New media consultant, including for Fred Thompson, George Allen, and Senate Republican
Mike Krempasky - Founder of RedState.com
Matt Stoller - Founder/Editor, OpenLeft.com
James Rucker - Executive Director, ColorOfChange.org
Robert Greenwald - President, BraveNewFilms
Kim Gandy - President, National Organization for Women
Carl Pope - Executive Director, Sierra Club
Micah Sifry - Co-Founder, Personal Democracy Forum and TechPresident.com
Shari Steele, Executive Director, Electronic Frontier Foundation
Josh Silver - Executive Director, Free Press
Carl Malamud - Founder, Public.Resource.Org
Roger Hickey - Co-Director, Campaign for America's Future
The other guys are the big deals, I'm just adding my voice.