Friday, July 4, 2008

Obama responds to protesters on his site

I was really interested to see how Obama would deal with this situation. Now I have the answer.

One of the (many) long term trends I follow is the development of citizen governance (or "open-source politics") as described in the recent works of John Varley (Rolling Thunder). I think it's a really interesting idea and might be one of the ways we, as a civilization, move toward sustainability. That is, in fact, one of the reasons I support Obama, I think his principles mesh well with open-source politics (or at least better than many other candidates) so I was really looking for how he would handle this situation. A more conventional politician would have ignored it, or maybe given in/pandered. Obama has incorporated the protest into his dialog with voters. To me that says that he listened to it which is very interesting.

Also consider the political economics of the situation. A small group of ordinary people, with no money, and no more organization than a facebook group, intentionally generated national media coverage and a response from a national politician, just by protesting on his website. One of things that seems radical about that to me is how low the ROI was for the online group. Yes tiny groups of lobbyists can get good ROI but that's an oversimplification of lobbyists as we know them. It takes a great deal of person-hours to become an effective lobbyist. There's an institution behind the kind of lobbying that goes on in K Street. On a fundamental level, I would argue, this incident seems like a more efficient way of conducting politics, and that is really what open-source governance is about; increasing the productivity and efficiency of how politics is conducted.

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