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Log On, Chime In, and
Throw the Bums Out?

by Judy Cresanta

politicians and activists throughout Nevada are begining to invest in the Internet to effect public policy outcomes. In fact, the medium has become so important to grassroots organizing in America that campaigns, whether poitical or policy-centered, will not succeed without a heavy investment in online communications.

A visit to the Steve Forbes national website shows the potential of this new medium. The Washington Times called the site a "testimony to the shifting of the tectonic plates of politics," complete with e-precinct organization, recruitment of what is already a massive volunteer army, and a Visa or MasterCard campaign contribution page--and encrypted, of course. Visitors willl learn all about Steve Forbes' policy positions, his bio and the other standart political fare. But more importanly, the site gives voice to voters' concerns by use od f e-mail to the candidate or his campaign headquarters. The ycan pose questions, express their own views or share their concerns. Voters can sign a series of petitions, such as the Tax Code Termination Petition, and have it e-mailed automatically to any congressman on the Hill. It is tuly interactive citizen politics for the frirst time in history.

Here in Nevada, NPRI has taken the lead in using the Internet to inform, educate and communicate. Our website has become an important resource for citizens and reporters allover the state. Each month, after the new issue of nevada Journal is mailed out to subscribers, the previous month's magazine is posted to the website. Each Friday we post the latest issue briefs and op-ed commentaries on our site, and also e-mail them out to all people who've asked to receive them free over the Internet. (Check us out, ai www. npri.org.)

While no Nevada issue group, lobbying organization or political perty has an Internet operation equal to NPRI's, several pro-freedom associations started to build an online presence this legislative session. For example, nevadans for Fair Taxation used e-mail extensively to keep property-tax activists up-to-date on events in the Legislative and other relevant developments. Nevada Employees for the Right To Work has communicated Culinary union abuses to not only Nevada workersbut the entire planet, via the Web. And the Libertarian Party in nevada has only a growing website but an active e-mail network. In a state where the power establishment eyes market and other freedoms with a hostile, Alzheimer's-like suspicion, incentives for pro-liberty organizations to continue their expansion onto the Web seem more than ample.

A visit es tionally high proportions. NJ

Judy Cresanta (jc@npri.org) is president of Nevada Policy Research Institute.


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