Democratic government is open government

In an era marked by political polarization and heightened mistrust in public institutions, it is crucial to identify areas of agreement that outstrip party lines. One such area lies in government transparency, where the Virginia Freedom of Information Act stands as a touchstone for the nonpartisan principle that benefits citizens and both political parties alike.

The fundamental purpose of FOIA is to ensure that government records and meetings are accessible to the public, promoting accountability, openness and trust in democratic processes and offering a seat at the table in actively shaping public policy.

This commitment to transparency is a fundamental tenet that resonates with Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, independents and agnostics. Regardless of political affiliation, citizens recognize the importance of being informed about the decisions made by their representatives in their name and how their taxpayer dollars are utilized. FOIA enables voters to gain insight into decision-makers and the decision-making process, ensuring that their interests are being represented effectively.

A robust FOIA framework helps prevent corruption, inefficiency and abuse of power. By providing a mechanism to scrutinize government actions, FOIA acts as a powerful deterrent to misconduct and fosters a culture of responsible governance. 

Transparency can bridge ideological divides, encourage dialogue and promote compromise, resulting in more informed policies that reflect the diverse perspectives of the citizenry.

As the birthplace of America’s democracy, Virginia can set an example for other states by championing legislative proposals to strengthen FOIA’s reach and by speaking out against tactics employed to make it harder for citizens to stay informed. By demonstrating that access to public records and meetings transcends partisan interests, Virginia can affirm our deeply rooted commitment to the people-derived power of our democratic republic and empower citizens of all political walks of life to actively participate in their own governance.

Happy Independence Day!

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