With the advent of the Internet, political information has never been so accessible to so many people. Whether you access the Internet at home, PDA or from the public library, good information is always at your fingertips. Here are some fabulous websites to help keep you engaged in the process!
A good start to becoming (and hopefully remaining) an informed citizen is to brush up on the US Constitution. When was the last time you read it? Here’s a great link to the full text of the Constitution- http://www.constitutionus.com .
An excellent site for a snap shot of the “how’s” and “why’s” of the federal government, can be found at: http://www.votesmart.org/resource_govt101_04.php . Not only does this site provide good foundational information (like how a bill becomes a law), it also contains cool external links to enhance your understanding of how our government works.
For information on US Congressional proceedings, voting records, bill tracking and political commentary from the left and right, check out www.rollcall.com/. Roll Call bills itself as the “Newspaper of Capitol Hill Since 1955.” They even include a special section detailing current Congressional investigationswhere politics hits the nitty-gritty.
To find more information on the inner workings of the US House of Representatives go to: www.house.gov An easy way to impress people with your political knowledge is to be able to spout off who your representatives and senators are. Go ahead and find yours using the “find your representative” tool in the upper left hand corner of the front page. To find out whom your senator is go to: www.senate.gov . On this page the “find your senator” tool is in the upper right hand of the front page.
American political parties are broken down into two major parties, the Democrats and the Republicans. There are also less powerful third-+parties such as the Libertarians and the Green Party. While these third parties may have fewer resources, their candidates do garner some support and can foil a close race between the major parties by “stealing” voters that would have otherwise voted for the Democrats or Republicans. To find the Democratic party go here : http://www.democrats.org/index.html . For the Republicans, click here: http://www.rnc.org/ . For a list of all political parties in the US, go here: www.politics1.com/parties.htm.
The political reality in the US is this: Democrats tend to be more liberal and Republicans tend to be more conservative. Of course this is a generalization as liberality and conservativeness tends to be continuum and can fluctuate depending on the issue at hand. Most folks would say they’re somewhere in the middle.
What’s great about blogs is that they can run the gamut from being sarcastic and flippant to serious and scholarly in tone. Each blog is a reflection of its creator which allows for some great bits and pieces that are not usually found in print magazines like Newsweek and Time. They can provide some great commentary and insight in an accessible, reader friendly and community oriented format.
As I mentioned earlier, a blog is a reflection of its creator. This means there is a great diversity of opinion (and quality) out there in BlogLand. Please remember this as you check out the sites listed below. You might find some you completely agree with; others could offend you. The great thing is-you don’t have to read it if you don’t like it! The following blogs all scored at least a 4/10 on Google’s PageRank system.
Top 5 Democratic and Left-Leaning Blogs:
Here are 5 great liberal blogs: www.corner.nationalreview.com/, www.dailykos.com/, www.prospect.org/csnc/blogs/ezraklein, www.huffingtonpost.com/blog, www.truthdig.com and www.thinkprogress.org/.
Top 5 Republican and Right-Leaning Blogs:
Here they are: http://hotair.com/, http://michellemalkin.com/, http://www.moonbattery.com/, http://patriotroom.com/ and http://commonsensepoliticalthought.com/.
Some of the best new ideas and theories come from America’s universities and the political institutes they house. Most of these theories are contained within peer-reviewed academic journals. The majority of these journals require a subscription to review the articles. However, the American Political Science Association has a link to 150 of their most popular articles here: www.apsanet.org/content_18079.cfm. Though you do have to pay to purchase the articles, you can pick and choose individual article that you would like to download rather than pay a years’ subscription just to have access to a couple of articles. Two other options for to access academic journal are to go to your local library or visit a nearby college or university. Most community and university libraries have access to online research databases with free downloadable articles. Or you could do the research the old fashioned way-locating the actual journal and making photocopies of your chosen article. Other political science academic journals can so be found on the APSA website at this link : www.apsanet.org/content_5352.cfm.
An engaged citizenry is what makes our democracy function. To be truly engaged in the political process, we must remain vigilant. To be vigilant, we must seek to educate ourselves and others about the political process and the opinions that shape our national policies. That education, thanks to the Internet, is only a couple of clicks away!