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Politics As Unusual

I suppose it's in some ways a function of my age, but I find myself repeatedly and extraordinarily impressed at the degree of openness and accessibility the new administration in Washington is affording the public. My reference to generational differences is motivated by the presumption that people under, say, 35 aren't going to be all that impressed by the ability to go to a website like and click on the 'Local Impact' link to see what banks in my state have been the recipient of TARP funds. But I find myself both impressed and, I'll admit it, tickled, almost giddy, at the degree of access I have suddenly been afforded into the day-to-day workings of my government.

Maybe it's my generation's Watergate-based cynicism that's being chipped away - much to my relief, I might add, like having a cast on a critical limb finally being removed - but the idea that I'm seeing information about government programs from an administration RSS feed before I hear about them on the nightly news is something I suspect I will never freely do without again.

Then there's President Obama's weekly address. Has anyone besides me noticed that you don't have to be running Microsoft Windows Vista in order to view and listen to it? That's refreshing, and ultimately, not surprising given this administration's focus on inclusion. But to be able to click on that link from my Fedora 10 laptop or my wife's CentOS 5 system or my office Red Hat Enterprise Linux workstation and see the same thing, without skips or hickups or Max Headroom moments - in fact, to see as good an image as I'm used to seeing on my HD flat screen - is still a source of wonder to me. I hope I never become blase about it, and at the same time, I hope that I do, and everyone in this country does, at least, in the sense that they presume that it's a matter of course to have it.

So to you Generation X and younger readers out there: take a moment to think about how this wasn't always possible. You may not have lived it, but boy, I did. And I'm sure enjoying the new reality show in town.




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