My parents told me to never talk politics with people you don’t know…or people you do know for that matter. As such, I’m not going to reveal my political tendencies, who my favorite candidate is, or whether I agree or disagree with the current health care reform legislation. What I will do, however, is suggest that no matter whether or not you agree with President Obama’s beliefs or objectives, one of the better things he has brought to the American people is a growing interest in social activism. Love him or hate him, more and more people are becoming more active in making the world a better place (as defined by themselves of course).
Sunlight Labs, an open-source community of developers and designers aimed at opening up government to make it more transparent, accountable, and responsible, released an Android application entitled Congress, which is aimed at getting Android users more involved in government. Currently in version 2.2, Congress allows users to find and call their elected officials using their location and read the latest bills and laws that have gone through or are currently going through the U.S. Congress.
Unlike the real congress, the Congress Android app is intuitive and user-friendly. Everything seems to just work. Sunlight Labs has a team of open-source developers who are constantly evaluating user feedback and are rapidly introducing bugfixes and new features.
The main screen allows you to search for new laws, legislation that has newly been introduced to congress, and even view the results from the latest congressional votes. The legislation pages gives a brief overview of the legislation, significant dates in the bill’s journey to becoming law, who the congressional sponsor was, and a summary of what the bill will actually do.
It also allows you to search for legislators by location, state, zip code, or legislator name. The legislator page features a profile image of the congressperson, one-click access to calling their office, visiting their website, viewing bills that they have sponsored, and what committees they are currently serving on. It also allows you to view recent news stories and YouTube videos involving the legislator.
Final Verdict: Yes, I’m skipping over the pros and cons mostly because I think this app is absolutely fantastic. If you’re an activist or are simply interested in political issues, you owe it to yourself and, dare I say it, your country, to download this app.
Congress can be found for free on the Android market.