Here's an idea to make politicians a bit more accountable... I almost put this in the "Do Something" forum, but at this point it's still more of an intellectual exercise than something for which I'm actively suggesting.
We all seem to want increased accountability and transparency in our government. Politicians actually say they want the same thing, though their follow-through makes this debatable at best. On the show, we frequently hear about ways in which the Internet and new media can be used to hold politicians to a standard that was previously unrealistic. Given that, I'd like to make the following suggestion, which I admit may be stupid in it's simplicity:
1) Every member of congress should have a website. Most, if not all, of them do, so this is a nonissue.
2) The website should list every bill that has been presented to them for a vote. It should list what their vote was, and a statement by them justifying their vote (Minimum of 10 words, no maximum)
We send these people into office to vote on issues, and I don't think it's at all unreasonable to make them account for their reasoning behind each vote. This includes votes of "PRESENT" or "ABSENT". Just like I would want to know their logic behind voting YES or NO on an issue, I'd also like them to have to answer "Why weren't you in congress doing your job when this vote was called?" and "Why are we paying you crazy amounts of money when you can't even take a stand on an issue?" I wouldn't even mind if someone used the opportunity to grandstand on an issue-- at least it would be an answer.
Now, the realist in me understands that because this idea would cost the government essentially nothing, and would give the voters a lot more information and reduce our congress's ability to be creative about their collective track records, I've already answered my own question about why this will never be done. However, that aside, is there any reason to think it wouldn't be a good idea?