Sunday, September 9, 2012

I Dare You

I am on President Obama's mailing list.

It's my own fault - I wanted a free bumper sticker.  And now I get a constant stream of nearly panicked email signed by him, Michele, Joe Biden, and a cast of campaign characters telling me how Mitt Romney and his shadowy array of anonymous donors are outspending the President and asking me to chip in a few dollars.

It's sad, because while it's still true that money buys ads and access to mass media, it's also clear that the vast majority of the audience being targeted neither likes nor trusts ads and mass media.  So why should the huge amounts of money matter any more?

A lot of my friends and people I follow on the web complain about the money in politics.  Whether they are griping about Sheldon Adelson, George Soros, or joining in Lawrence Lessig's #rootstrikers campaign, they all claim to want to "take back" our democracy.  Some seem to think that by donating to one cause or another they are nobly attempting to buy it back.

I say, enough.  

I say, we-the-people need to start running for office ourselves.  And we need to start doing it with donation-free campaigns.  

Think you've got ideas?  Pick an office.  Run for city council and watch for openings in statewide offices.  You will be surprised how many of the crazy loons you read about got into local and even state office by running unopposed.

And I dare you to try it.

I dare you to stay independent.  I dare you to run on ideas (not ideology), and do it without becoming financially beholden to someone else.

Still need money to register? Start an Indiegogo campaign.  

Need exposure? Tweet and blog regularly, get business cards with your URL and twitter handle on them, go door to door talking to your neighbors. That's important.  Listen to what they say, figure out how to match up your ideas to their needs - and incorporate whatever makes them passionate into what you write.

Make your own campaign videos.  Post your "platform" online and encourage your commenters to make their own videos based on that.

There will be trolls - use their antics against them.  Humor and good nature have a way of making you look good next to them.  Use that conflict to generate attention for your ideas, and focus on them.

Stop complaining about having no voice, and exercise the one you have.

I say, if people really want to make their democracy work, they will be looking for you.  People like me will test you.  We'll throw stones at your ideas and quiz you on your credentials. Don't confuse us for those trolls. You will have to learn how to take criticism without crying about "conspiracies" or the "system."  

But be out there.  Be patient.  Be visible.

A lot of us want to find someone moderate, stable, independent, and willing to do these crappy elected jobs.  We talk about wanting change, but we really just want people who are willing to do the job - that would be remarkable enough.  That would be a change from the current crop.

If you can be that person, stand out and tell us.  Let us organize around you.  Let us call local TV and talk you up.  Let us share your videos and posts.  Let us get excited about you.

And let us keep our money.

I Dare You.


Michael Crutchfield said...

Sorry, the Hatch Act prohibits me from participating in a meaningful way while still being able to earn a living :-P

Tad said...

Are you implying that blogging - as we do - is not meaningful participation?

(I know, though - I'm in the same boat.)

Michael Crutchfield said...

I blog my thoughts, but I have to be very careful walking that fine line, and it frustrates me to no end. I usually error on the side of caution and don't post my exact thoughts at all.