Open for Questions

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

There is an interesting new development taking place at Obama’s web site Starting this last Wednesday, they are asking participants to submit questions they have about policy and implementation and then letting folks vote on the questions they would most like to see answered.

According to the blog entry linked above:

Since its launch yesterday, the Open for Questions tool has processed over 600,000 votes from more than 10,000 people on more than 7,300 questions…

Participation in Open for Questions outpaced our expectations, and we’re looking forward to rolling it out again next week…

Over the next few days, some of the most popular questions selected by the community will be answered by the Transition team, and their responses will be posted here on the site.

This could get interesting! Either the Obama Team will answer some VERY interesting questions, or they’ll skirt tough issues to pick and choose. Wait til you see what this process generated.  

You can see the questions and how they were ranked here. Not what you might expect. First of all, the 6th highest rated question came from Bob Fertik and is taken straight from the petition drive Buhdy has been organizing here. Lets see if they answer this one.

Will you appoint a Special Prosecutor – ideally Patrick Fitzgerald – to independently investigate the gravest crimes of the Bush Administration, including torture and warrantless wiretapping?

And the 2nd highest rated question was:

What will you do as President to restore the Constitutional protections that have been subverted by the Bush Administration and how will you ensure that our system of checks and balances is renewed?

But as Al Giordano notes in an essay at The Field, there was one issue that came up 5 times in the top 20 questions, one of which includes the highest rated question. This one’s a bit of a surprise. Here’s the list.

#1. Will you consider legalizing marijuana so that the government can regulate it, tax it, put age limits on it, and create millions of new jobs and create a billion dollar industry right here in the U.S.? (A total of 7,947 participants recommended that question.)

#7. 13 states have compassionate use programs for medial Marijuana, yet the federal gov’t continues to prosecute sick and dying people. Isn’t it time for the federal gov’t to step out of the way and let doctors and families decide what is appropriate?

#13. How will you fix the current war on drugs in America? and will there be any chance of decriminalizing marijuana?

#15. What kind of progress can be expected on the decriminalization and legalization for medicinal purposes of marijuana and will you re-prioritize the “War On Drugs” to reflect the need for drug treatment instead of incarceration?

#18. The U.S. has the world’s highest incarceration rate, largely due to the War on Drugs. Our prisons are festering pits of rape, racism, and gang violence, and divert a lot of tax money to the corrupt prison industry. How can we fix this?

Certainly there are other good questions on the list. But the inclusion of a request for a Special Prosecutor and this focus on drug policy were what stood out to me. It will be interesting to see the responses. Might give us some clue as to whether this is a significant tool to be used for dialogue or just a “feel good” PR mechanism.  


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  1. and its potential to be used as a tool for dialogue in this vast and diverse country. Hope the Obama Team knows how to tap into that in a meaningful way!

    • Edger on December 13, 2008 at 17:42

    people to find out what’s important to enough people to create a “constituency”. I’d think it would be pretty dangerous for Obama to ignore it or use it as just a “feel good” PR mechanism. But then again he’s not using it to gain votes. He’s already elected.

    But maybe it could be used by an organized grassroots movement to force him to do certain things or lose his chances of re-election four years down the road. Something like that he’d really have no choice but to take seriously?

  2. That’s awesome.  Go Bob!

    I’m also for #1, 7, 13, 15, and 18.


  3. This, of today!

    DoJ blocking Obama team from docs on torture, wiretapping

    By Andrew McLemore, Raw Story

    The Justice Department has evaded a request from President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team for documents about the secret programs of U.S. intelligence agencies.

    The team asked to “review classified legal opinions related to secret CIA and National Security Agency programs,” but the inquiry has been denied.

    Among the information requested are official documents about the “legal rationale” for the secret wiretapping and torture programs conducted by the two agencies.

    Attorney General Michael Mukasey addressed the issue with reporters, saying that his department was reluctant to give up the documents without permission from the two agencies involved. . . .

    So, it appears that there is already some effort being made.  (Not surprising response from AG Mukasey!)

    I do find the issue of legalization of marijuana as to be a “headliner” a little surprising.  While, I think certainly it should be given consideration down the line, I don’t rate it as top priority right now.

    Prosecution of Bush et al., global warming, creation of jobs, dealing with 2 wars, healthcare are top priorities in my book and humongous enough as to absorb a tremendous amount of time to find/create methods of dealing with same.  

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