January 11, 2008

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…for a website to be as unreliable as United’s.

Imagine running airplanes with the same level of reliability.

Read on

This is the best post on politics I’ve read in a long while. It concludes,

  I’m not expecting very much from people who live “Inside the Beltway.” I don’t live there, never have, don’t even like visiting the place. To me it’s much like the arrogance of Silicon Valley. You can’t pop out every four years get us to vote for you and then go back into your nest. Politics belongs to all of us, in this country, the people are the government. We really lost our way, now it’s time to come back. It’s the change that’s happening in everything, decentralization, disintermediation. Obama speaks of a plurality, his campaign isn’t about a mere election, it’s about changing the way we do things.

  My advice to candidates going back to Dean was and is to start implementing the change you seek before the election, while you have the full attention of the electorate. Ask us to give money, not to buy ads, but to buy health insurance for 50,000 uninsured people in a particular state, so we can see how powerful we are collectively, how we can do good, starting right now. We yearn for this, to feel our muscles flex collectively, and individually to make a difference, not just in your hype, but in real terms. Hillary Clinton could have gotten up yesterday and said “There’s no time to waste. We can’t wait until January 2009 to solve the problems. Let’s start right now.”

  Maybe she won’t get elected, but getting us organized now would make it more likely.

  JFK: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

  See how that works??

My summary: It’s about relationship, not transaction. It’s about governance, not politics.

To unpack that a bit, you can divide what happens in a market — including the political one — into three categories: transaction, conversation and relationship. In too many markets — including the one for candidates — the mix of the three is warped and strained. Too many big-money contributors own the most meaningful relationships with the candidate. Too much of the conversation is insincere, preachy, hollow or otherwise bullshit. And the need for money pollutes both conversation and relationship.

Earlier in that post, Dave writes,

  What the electorate needs is to hire someone to lead us for the four years between elections. It needs someone who will ground our collective behavior in something resembling reality

In a conversation around this stage in the last presidential election, Phil Windley pointed out that democracies are about two things: elections and governance. We care disproportionately about the former, because elections make great stories, and are eay to explain with sports and war metaphors. But elections are how we hire those who run our governments. We need to care about what they’ll do in reality. Or what we’ll do in reality. The idea isn’t just to change how elections happen, but how governance works as well.

Easier said than done. But we need to do it.