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GovLoop Project of Week – Whitehouse2.org

What if you could run the White House?

While becoming the President of the United States is a dream of both young and old, there are/were hundreds of millions of us and only 44 of them. But, what if you could run the White House?

WhiteHouse2.org helps you to imagine how the White House might work if it was run by thousands of people over the internet. What would be different? What would be the same? Well, now you can have your say on 151 issues.

Created by Jim Gilliam (twitter / govloop), whitehouse2.org was started shortly before the 2008 election. The idea was to create a website that would allow us, the US citizen, to prioritize key issues on the direction of the country. To learn more about Jim Gilliam, please checkout fellow GovLooper, Luke Fretwell‘s Gov 2.0 Hero piece, here.

As I write this project, there are approximately 9,050 citizens using whitehouse2.org. They are endorsing or opposing over 1500 priorities. The site also gives you the ability to ask President Obama to please [enter your priority here]. You can create your own priority, whether you support or oppose the priority (or are neutral on it) for fellow citizens to endorse or oppose. If you create your own priority, you will need to summarize your talking point in 60 characters then explain your talking point in greater detail and provide a link to a viable resource. Anyone can add priorities and encourage their friends to support them. You will quickly see how powerful this site may become.

When you first visit the site, you will notice a long list of issues (5 pages worth), each issue has a top priority, a controversial priority and a rising priority. You can endorse or oppose each priority and discuss it. It’s also fascinating to see how President Obama’s opinions stack up to the opinions of the citizenry. For example, with the hot topic of Healthcare, there are 1733 people who endorse “Get Government out of Healthcare” with 563 opposed, President Obama opposes this. However, there are 1561 endorsements to 1291 opposed for “Enact quality, affordable health care for all” which Obama endorses.

whitehouse2.org’s Briefing Room section organizes your/all talking points (2,684), documents and research contributions. It also lists who has contributed talking points and documents. The News section of the site is extremely informative with discussions across many issues and provides an overview of how the Obama Administration is interacting with “White House 2.”

One of the coolest features I found is the Political Capital feature, where you earn or lose points based on your activity which determines your influence at White House 2 (see most influential). For instance, you lose 1 or 2 political capital points if you have not logged in recently, but earn points for recruiting people or obtaining followers. You can then use your political capital to “buy” an ad to promote a specific priority that you are passionate about.

Under the Network tab, you will find various ways to interact with people who agree or disagree with your issues and priorities. Along with the most influential people (see above), you will see who is the most talkative, find some new “twitterers” to follow and find new members, site ambassadors and partners.

To get started with whitehouse2.org, I would recommend watching this video and reading this FAQ page. The site has 3 rules: Only US citizens can participate, only 1 account per person and be civil.

How do you use whitehouse2.org? If you’re involved in policy making in the federal government, do you utilize this tool? If so, please provide some feedback below.

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Very cool. I really like the design of the site – very intuitive and handles well these controversial issues but also makes it really useful.