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Why the GOP Should Grab the Transparency Mantle with Both Hands (and Perhaps a Foot)

BY Nancy Scola | Thursday, February 12 2009

On the Next Right, Jon Henke has a great summary of the current state of play on government transparency:

Transparency is an area of genuine opportunity for progress right now, because (1) the majority party promised they would do it, and (2) the minority party has a political incentive to hold the majority to their promise.

But Henke is smart enough to note the flip slip of those two pluses: Democrats don't have much political imperative to push open government, and Republicans don't have much of a leg to stand on when it comes to calling for transparency. The Obama White House and House Democratic leadership can fall short on, say, putting up legislation online. But -- to the sadness of open government advocates -- much-welcomed GOP cries of "put dang the bill online!" can ring hollow, given the closed-door way government's been run over the last eight years or so.

What's the solution? According to Henke, "actual, unilateral leadership." And find ways to unstop the bottleneck in the process, or in other words, "the 535 members of Congress."

While Henke doesn't mention it, it seems like transparency also offers up a juicy political opportunity for Republicans in Congress who might be worried about their job security: a chance to identify with the party's populist elements, and not the DC establishment.