Keeping Tabs on the Government
As the United States government advances into the 21st century, it can be difficult to see what is really happening "behind the scenes." However, thanks to a few dedicated groups and the internet, you can keep track of nearly everything, from Congress, to donors, to the truth and lies.
One of the greatest resources we as citizens have is C-SPAN. Almost all government proceedings can be watched live on C-SPAN, allowing Congress to be viewed from the comfort of your own home or computer. If you want more in-depth information about what bills are being proposed, visit OpenCongress. The tools there are endless. You can find which congresspeople are co-sponsors of which bills, learn who voted for or against each bill, and write your representative. (That's why they are there, to represent you.)
If you feel like the money trail in politics is difficult to understand from the FEC publications, OpenSecrets makes everything easy to understand and locate. After each quarter when candidates disclose their donations to the FEC, OpenSecrets organizes the information into "easy to digest" graphs. You can even see which organization or corporation employees are donating to which candidates.
Sometimes, it's hard to separate the truth from false statements that politicians often claim to be true. Thankfully, PolitiFact takes the time and energy to research many statements released by politicians and persons of great influence. They rank them from "True" to "Half True" to the occasional "Pants on Fire." (At least we can hope that it doesn't happen often.)
I learned about most of these wonderful tools separately, and gradually filled my bookmarks with high-tech ways to keep track of government. Thanks to the internet, accountability has become simple (and sometimes fun!)