In all the excitement about the inauguration of our new President, the speeches, parades and balls, it is easy to overlook the fact that real work is already being done. The Obama transition team has been hard at work preparing to jump in with both feet and start instituting the promised change.
One evidence of this is the whitehouse.gov website, which was immediately transformed into a vehicle for communication to and from the White House to and from the American people. The White House now even has a blog. Posted at 12:01 PM today, actually 4 minutes before Barack Obama took the oath of office, but 60 seconds after the official time of the transition at noon, New Media Director Macon Phillips posted these words:
Communication — Americans are eager for information about the state of the economy, national security and a host of other issues. This site will feature timely and in-depth content meant to keep everyone up-to-date and educated. Check out the briefing room, keep tabs on the blog (RSS feed) and take a moment to sign up for e-mail updates from the President and his administration so you can be sure to know about major announcements and decisions.
Transparency — President Obama has committed to making his administration the most open and transparent in history, and WhiteHouse.gov will play a major role in delivering on that promise. The President’s executive orders and proclamations will be published for everyone to review, and that’s just the beginning of our efforts to provide a window for all Americans into the business of the government. You can also learn about some of the senior leadership in the new administration and about the President’s policy priorities.
Participation — President Obama started his career as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago, where he saw firsthand what people can do when they come together for a common cause. Citizen participation will be a priority for the Administration, and the internet will play an important role in that. One significant addition to WhiteHouse.gov reflects a campaign promise from the President: we will publish all non-emergency legislation to the website for five days, and allow the public to review and comment before the President signs it.
We should not kid ourselves. The next four years will be difficult. President Obama will make mistakes, large and small. The economy will remain in recession for some time, an unknown length of time. Terrorists will continue to threaten us and will strike somewhere. War will continue to erupt in new places throughout the world. People will still die needlessly of starvation and disease. But hope was planted on November 4th last year. And that seed of hope has now sprouted and, if we nurture it, it will grow.
Whitehouse.gov is a tool and a symbol of that hope. I intend to use it. I hope that you will, too.