Duck! and Gather

Obama as Gorbachev (3 of 3): DIO

Posted on: July 4, 2008

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DIO = “Do It Ourselves”. This the third of a three-post series. In the first post of the series, I explain that I was disappointed to learn, these past couple of days, that Obama is an unprincipled pandering politician, rather than the human I thought he was. In the second post, I somewhat rehabilitate my view of Obama by noting that we are still in pre-crisis days, and that all the great U.S. presidents (Washington, Lincoln, and Roosevelt) were similarly more or less ambivalent to the historical imperative in their respective pre-crisis days.

But this isn’t 1772, nor 1859, nor 1928. This is July of 2008. Today, information moves instantly. There are no secrets. And everyone with a keyboard is a publisher.

So even if Washington, Lincoln, and Roosevelt were pandering politicians before their call to history, how many people knew that? Maybe a few insiders knew. But certainly not the whole nation by any stretch.

Today? Anyone with a pulse and an interest can know anything about a public figure, the instant that information is available.

This news about “Obama-the-panderer” is out. There’s no putting that cat back into the bag now.

Check out the group on Obama’s official website called Senator Obama – Please Vote NO on Telecom Immunity – Get FISA Right. This is an online group, on Obama’s official website, started up by some of his supporters. The purpose of the group is to plead with Obama to “Please reject the politics of fear on national security, vote against this bill [FISA] and lead other Democrats to do the same!”

As of this writing, this group counts over 18,000 members, making it by far the largest group on Obama’s site. As I write, there is a lot of spleen venting going on there.

When you think about it, this is a pretty extraordinary dynamic. Obama has to be the first presidential politician ever to enable user forums on his official campaign website. Users evidently can say pretty much anything they want. And with the anguish and surprise arising from Obama’s turnaround in late June, users are saying things the campaign staff can’t be happy about.

For example, in response to this reaction, Obama posted the “reasons” for his FISA flip. In response, an Obama supporter wrote: “I have been dispirited by reading Barack’s ‘Response’ on the FISA issues … By ‘failed to give a convincing explanation’, I mean that Barack and his staff have only addressed this issue superficially”. Similarly, a poster to Huffington’s site responded: ” Senator Obama this is a well written piece, but your explanation still sounds a little bit like double speak.” Ouch.

Watching this dynamic play out got me thinking about Mikhail Gorbachev. Gorbachev was the last Soviet premier. He was the guy to call for glasnost (transparency) and perestrioka (reform).

The Russian people responded: “Thanks! I’ve give you some glasnost and perestroika. How ’bout them apples?!” And thus the Soviet Union collapsed.

How does this relate to Obama? Like Gorbachev, Obama is all about transparency and reform. Just browse through that Obama website link above. Obama has embraced web-as-community for fundraising, messaging, and even supporter coordination and dialogue.

But just like Gorbachev before him, Obama is surely being surprised at the ferocity of the response from the people. Ultimately, the Soviet Union was un-reformable. It was corrupt and diseased to its core. Transparency could lead to only one thing: collapse.

What about American politics? Before these last two weeks of June, it seemed as though Obama would resurrect our fragile whisper of faith in American politics. He would be the proof that principled humans can populate the U.S. government.

But then came the last two weeks of June. And Obama revealed himself for what he truly is. But this revelation wasn’t just about Obama. It was a revelation about American politics itself. As Adrianna Huffington points out, it was strategic madness for Obama to flip his positions to move to the middle. “Realstupidpolitk” is what she called it.

So when Obama starts acting like an unprincipled pandering poltician — when he had no need to do so — we have peered into dark soul of American politics. And we can see that it is corrupt to its core and diseased beyond repair. Ergo, it must collapse.

But collapse into what? Anarchy?

I don’t know. But I suspect that politics in America will soon become 90% local. And the web will play a critical role in its administration.

For example, sometime in early June, Obama evidently had meetings with his closest advisors planning out strategy for the campaign against McCain. And evidently, the consensus of that meeting was that Obama would flip his positions and repudiate his principles in order to move to the middle.

What would have happened if those meetings were transparent? I mean, what if the 18,000+ members of that Obama group could have listened in on those meetings? What would they have said?

They’d have shouted in one voice: “Don’t do it Obama! Please!!”

Maybe that’s the future of American politics. Maybe representative democracy is on its last legs. Who needs representation when you can just run a web poll?

This reminds me of the polls ESPN sometimes runs on questions of NBA officiating. When the polls start showing 90% of fans believe the refs are corrupt, ESPN shuts down the polls.

Maybe in the future DIO world, we fans would simply reform the reffing system ourselves without having to wait for the corrupt commissioner to do it for us. And maybe in that future world, we won’t have to hope that one particular man isn’t just a pandering politician in order to make the changes we need.

Maybe we can just cut out the middleman. Maybe we can do it ourselves. Now there’s hope for you.

for the money has gone too far

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