I was sad to note the first meeting between President Bush and President-Elect Obama was shrouded in secrecy. Many of us voted for Senator Obama in part because of his promise of transparency. That is, that the government would more openly let its intentions and actions be known to the people so that the people will have a clearer understanding of how government works, and with that be able to more meaningfully contribute to our democracy. However mundane or sensitive those private White House conversations may have been, this was a bad start. The need to communicate to the people after the election is even stronger than the need before. To believe otherwise is to encourage us to fall back to being a population kept in the dark, and all too easily led astray by special interest propaganda and fear tactics.
Some will no doubt say that these White House conversations may have been conducted in secret because of national security concerns. Even if true, we should beware of this approach. Even the most insignificant piece of information can be kept from us by using this excuse, thus opening the door to keeping seriously deceptive intentions and acts from us later. Indeed, we must demand that the people be kept informed and expect nothing less, as we are worthy of this right. Indeed, in times of need, the People can at times act more quickly and effectively than government at the community level and beyond, making the sharing of information indispensable.
If we are to truly participate in our government, our government must abandon secrecy in every possible way and lead openly, our country’s actions firmly guided by our uncompromising fundamental values, many of which are set forth in our Constitution. These fundamental values do not live and breathe in our policies, but rather, in the hearts and minds of our People. Whatever leaps of faith are required to exchange secrecy with openness, it is worth it. Indeed, we are worth it.