Whipster – who supports what

The Congress Votes Database from the Washington Post tells you how Senators and Representatives have voted.

But wouldn't it be useful to know what their positions are on issues coming up?

In politics, it's the whip who counts the supports before a vote. Hence: Whipster.

Take a look at the amount of effort undertaken by Talking Points Memo and by Porkbusters last August — incidentally, not regarding a specific vote, but regarding finding out who was the Senator who placed the "secret hold" on a bill (which would have created a public, searchable database on federal grants contracts).

A couple of years ago I sketched out these ideas in a proposal I called the Hearsay Network; I generalized the idea to suggest that it could be designed to allow any individual to record their opinion on any issue, document, or person. It would be useful for any sort of organization to map out support.

I suppose that the Hearsay Network was stuck at the memegate because of its name. Whipster may yet catch on. It happens to be the name of a Dutch band, and Shakespeare had Othello gripe about a "puny whipster," but it's otherwise in the clear.

I'd work on it, but I have many other ideas to work on, and this one isn't worth quitting my job over. But it would be extremely useful.