This post came about from a brief twitter exchange with Glenn Greenwald.
Glenn thanks for listening. Here are some simple ideas. (And if you just want the conclusion skip to the end.)
1. Discourse on the net is much like discourse was during the print age. I can write about tech stuff, you can write about political stuff, neither of us gets access to the other's community if you should happen to have something to say to the tech world or I should have something to say political.
2. This is working against us because today almost everything that is political is tech, and vice versa. We've got some smart people writing publicly who can put the pieces together, but we haven't yet actually put the pieces together.
3. You talk about Arab Spring type demos. I say that won't work in the US and I don't think it worked in Egypt.
4. What works here, and I know this sounds idealistic in a Mr Smith Goes to Washington way, is voter turnout.
5. Kickstarter. Look what happened there. Why? Because people crave power. They may only be able to put down $10 or $100 but it magically mulitplies quickly to become $1 million.
6. People are desperate to be involved. To be effective. To do something with their lives that's good. We are missing meaning.
7. We are blessed with a democratic system that is actually a lot like Kickstarter. If we were to use it, that would change things right off. If voter turnout increased by just 10 percent it would be seen as a revolution in Washington. It would be felt.
8. I believe it's possible to transform Obama, even just a little. I think he can be manipulated. If 10 percent more people turned out than were expected, it would shake him up.
9. If somehow we could attach to that a message that the filibusters had to stop, that when we elect a majority to Congress we expect them to have the power to legislate, and that there will be a memory of any politician who threatened that. (Think about the power the Tea Party has had with a small minority in just a few states.)
10. I want to do more than vote and give money. Right now, other than knock on doors, which I did in 2008 and when I was a teen, that's about all that I can do. But I desperatelly want to do more. I thinkn there are a lot of other people like that.
11. I don't care what pundits think.
12. I believe in demonstrations, but not meaningless ones. Showing up to vote is the best tool we have right now. I can't believe we're not doing more with it.
Anyway, short term there isn't much we can do. I know that. The change that I want has to be something I create myself. I want to break down the walls that say only Josh Marshall, you and Ezra Klein (etc) can write about politics. And that the people who use the tech have the most important opinions, so I want to hear more vision about where this stuff should go from smart people like yourself. We're creating a new system for political discourse now. The tools are still early. We can make them much better. But first we have to create the expectation that they will get better, and the places we're looking for change are the places it can't and won't come from. The VCs will never give you the power that I will. The President will never bring about change on his own. But you and I and others like us can.