… Whose Cloak and Cincture Can Hold Out This Tempest
Originally, I wanted to write about a certain site in another language, to a bigger, more domestic, and much more relevant crowd. I wanted someone else to do it, actually, because the meaning of the existence of such a site is something that someone with time should investigate, and do so thoroughly.
I’m talking about Dear Minister website (Hebrew). In itself, the site is almost harmless. It suggests ways and means to get in touch with Members of Knesset, The President of Israel, The Prime Minister. It does make some things easier: sending one email to all of the Knesset (Israeli Parliament), or to a certain party.
I can believe that this site was created with every last bit of good intention. The group that created it is signed on another, this time a great, e-service. But more importantly, Dear Minister was created under a veil of blindness.
In a democracy* there are ways and means for a public to get in touch with its representatives (and there are well documented, all in the Knesset site), without giving your name, phone number and address to a third-party which isn’t Google/your internet provider. The existence of such a site takes us a step away from a model of independent thinking and action, and creates a puppet-activism: where your voice depends on others to carry it, where you can’t get in touch with your representatives anonymously for whichever reason. I also find it hard to believe that the major obstacle that stands in the way of citizens and voters of contacting their PM/MK is that they don’t know how to pick up the phone or Google the Knesset site.
If there was a page or a place in the Dear Minister that mentioned the direct possibilities to get in touch with the MKs, this post wouldn’t have been written. I’d RT and spread the news about any activity to get people more active in their civil participation and e-citizenship (and again, the option to send a group email to a party or a group of Knesset Members is a good thing). But I strongly believe that the way Dear Minister operates contributes to none, other that the creation of a “who wants what from which Minister” list.
Putting one more (unintentional) barrier between citizens and the Knesset isn’t a way to help democracy or to increase citizens’ participation. Quite the opposite.
*let’s pretend for a second it is, a democracy de jure.