When Obama was elected I thought I understood something that I didn't.
First, I supported Obama. Gave the max. Talked him up on my blog and on social media as it existed in 2008. Went to meetings. Voted for him. Was overjoyed when he was elected.
One of the reasons Obama's campaign was so successful was that it was distributed. Obama supporters met in people's living rooms and canvassed together, knocking on doors, networking with people in their neighborhoods, for two-way communication. Not only did ideas flow from the center to the edges, but they went the other way too. This was amazing. It was the model for how blogging networked. I thought I was looking at a campaign that got what I got about software, but with politics.
So I expected that when the transition started, the Obama campaign website would turn into the White House website, and would continue to organize us. That the new President would apply the same ideas that won him the job to: 1. Doing the job, and 2. To spread the love all over the world. I fantasized that Obama, visiting a world leader, would bring with him binders of facts about the leaders' citizens, because we knew more about what they needed, because they were on our network. I imagined the Obama campaign system would spread all over the world.
Further, I thought that when the President hit an obstacle in Congress, he would tap into his network of supporters, still activated, and have us campaign within the electorate to get the message to our Senators and Representatives that we want them to work with the President. I couldn't wait not to just be a contributor and supporter but to being part of the political system on a daily basis.
I loved the idea, because I, like everyone else, am searching for meaning. I want to help in my own way to solve the world's problems. To feel effective, to feel that I was working with other people to make the world better. That there was an exciting reason to get up every day. This is at the core of what I desire. And what is so damned difficult to do.
Obama went the other way. The campaign website shut down. When the new White House site was unveiled there were very small ways for people to participate. It didn't organize. It didn't give us a way to do for our communities what we had done for Obama. His campaign, in other words, to me -- was a lie. I was angry for a while, and then I went back to my normal mode with respect to politics, I ignored it. And went back to writing software. And while that was happening I watched all the stuff I had built be torn apart by big tech companies, and trashed both with PR and with their products. So much of the good I had done in years past was undone. And I watched Obama's Presidency wrecked by Republicans, a President who would be difficult to challenge if he demonstrably had the people on his side, but there was no way to show that. Just the normal "approval rating" polls. So much for a transformational President. What could have been if only he believed in us.
I think this is what's wrong with our political system. It's organized to get people elected, then the people we elect do the work of big companies. And their work is to squeeze every bit of value they can out of the natural and intellectual resources of the world, and keep it for themselves. If they can kill something that's worth $100 to reap $1 of value from the corpse, they see that as good business. That's the approach that has got our species into the climate change corner we're in. If you burn everything all you'll have left to breathe are smoking corpses. That's where we are in everything humans do. That's why we feel a void for ourselves, collectively. We blame the government, but we're the ones who believe the lies. We know they're lying but we believe them anyway.
Obama may have had the germ of the idea. Maybe. Or maybe he just had a good way of getting elected and never thought of using the same approach to running things. He was just refining the approach used by the Dean campaign in 2004. So maybe he didn't even understand why it worked, just that it did work.
When I look at the outcome of the 2016 election so far, I think a lot of other people see it the same way, though they come to different conclusions about what needs to be done.
What I think needs to be done -- involve people in doing good work, with others, to make the world work better for everyone. Sort of a Uber for helping put the human race back on track for success. A Tinder of good deeds. Find me something I can do to help right now, close to home. And another thing and another.
The candidate who really gets this won't wait until he or she is elected to begin the good-doing. It would start during the campaign, so even if they don't win some good will come from the campaign. That's how you'll know you're looking at the real deal.
Today, I think we may have an opportunity, in the wreckage of our two-party system, to form a new party. I think of it as the Getting_Shit_Done Party (or more politely as it appears in the title of this post). I don't care whether you're a conservative or a liberal. We're all humans before any of that. We all breathe and sleep, and yearn for love and acceptance, and we want to help. I really believe that. We depend too much on others to solve our problems. What we really need is help organizing so we can solve the problems. That's how it will work, when it does.