(cross-posted at Daily Kos)

It’s great to see citizen journalism in action. A project here at Daily Kos is picking up steam – where we ‘adopt’ a congressional committee and keep tabs on their progress. It’s a great idea, and by all means one that we should encourage; after all, a democracy thrives when its citizens participate actively within it.

Before the election I was thinking of taking a similar principle and applying it to our newly-elected Congresspersons and Senators in the U.S. Congress. Many of our newly-elected representatives come from extremely close races (such as Patrick Murphy in PA-08 or Joe Courtney in CT-02), or they are in areas that will make it a challenge for them to be re-elected every time they are up (Nick Lampson in TX-22 or Nancy Boyda in KS-02). While the Netroots-endorsed list has only included challengers, it’s inevitable that we will have to begin defending our incumbents, beginning in 2008.

And that’s where we come in.
The project I’ve been working on is entitled The Progressive Wave. Our slogan is ‘Not left, not right, but forward’. In the end, progressives of any stripe are about progress, and that is what our new representatives have a chance to do in Washington. In a sense, I view TPW as a step forward for the blogosphere as well. One of the things I learned about blogging firsthand about the CT-Sen race and the PA-08 race is that citizen journalism is incredibly useful tool for informing the blogosphere at large about the actual circumstances on the ground as it pertains to a race. No longer do we have to rely on traditional media sources for our information, but we can get an unfiltered view of what is occurring directly from the source.

What do I hope to accomplish with TPW? One thing I hope is that we can keep track of all our newly-elected representatives in their travails – whether it be those who held safe seats for us, such as Amy Klobachar in MN-Sen, or those who won by squeakers, such as Jon Tester in MT-Sen. We’ll be keeping a birds-eye view of the legislation they support, critiquing the speeches they give, and also acting as a sort of ‘accountability’ check on Democratic politicians. We don’t want to see those who represent the best and brightest of our future to become disappointments (a junior senator from Illinois comes to mind, at least for me). By informally tracking what they do – as well as attending events when they are in-state and writing about it – you have the power to keep the rest of us up to date. And come campaign time, we will be a veritable source of firsthand information from the ground about the race. Especially for House races, which occur every 2 years, it is paramount that we can report back what is occurring within the district.

What does it require from any of you? Not much, aside from a little of your time. I am aiming to have as many bloggers as possible join the project; we have somewhere around 35-40 House districts that need to be covered, as well as 8 senators (PA, RI, MT, MN, MD, OH, MO, VA) that will also need to be written about. After that, how much participation you’d like to put in is completely up to you. Personally, as I was quite involved in the PA-08 race, I will be attempting to speak with Congressman Murphy occasionally about the latest from Washington. I also hope to speak to some of his staff from the campaign about the field operation and the communications department. I consider this to be an ‘open-source’ blogging project in that there is no set or defined style one has to go about covering their representatives. You make the blog in your image.

That being said, we still need a lot of bloggers. I currently have a few people lined up so far for the following: NY-19, NY-20, AZ-05, AZ-08, VA-Sen, and CA-11. That being said, you can definitely blog those, along with any others you may be interested in. The only requirement of sorts is that it would be preferable that you live in-district, or if not, live within a reasonable distance such that you are not blogging about an area which you are unfamiliar with. If you are interested, please join our group over at DFALink. Our current working comments section can be found here. If you are unable to blog about the races, I’d appreciate any sort of technical support, particularly in the area of graphic design.

Ultimately, this is a project that, at its core, is about local politics. But in the age of the blogosphere, being connected to the Internet is incredibly important. The Progressive Wave is all about supporting our politicians who will move us forward in D.C., but it’s also about taking the blogosphere to the next level – citizen journalism. I hope you’ll join me for the ride.