Dean 2004 was Grassroots 1.0, Obama 2008 has been Grassroots 2.0. The method of it has been Grassroots 2.0, the substance of it has been what Barack calls the new kind of politics, the politics of hope, the politics of respect for those who differ with you, the politics of no longer tearing each other down. The method made the substance possible. The grassroots mechanics of Obama 2008 were made possible by the advances in internet technology. Dean 2004 did not have YouTube, Blogger, Facebook, none of that. Internet fundraising has gone through the roof. The people have claimed the power.
But like Barack said in his victory speech, a speech that I heard on the radio, that had me sobbing. He said "I know you did not do this for me, and I know you did not do this to win an election." The grassroots won this election to transform the country, the world, to bring forth fundamental policy changes like universal health care, ending a war, changing the way Washington does business.
The mood can't be, okay, now that we won, let's pack up and go home, let's hope Barack is a good guy, let's hope he is who we thought he was. The mood has to be, let's govern the way we won. What would be some of the elements?
Transparency In Decision Making
Share the data, the facts, the details of the policy discussions, the money projections, the debate with the grassroots. All bills in Congress must be put online in the entirety for a week or two before they get voted on by Congress. Let the grassroots chew on the bills. Feed the monster.
If internet technology makes possible that transparency, it also makes possible for the grassroots to meet and discuss and debate and speak back to the powers that be in Washington. The Barack team in the White House has to make the grassroots feel like they are constantly listening. The listening process itself has to be public.
That website can not be dismantled. It has to be enhanced. That is where Obama 2012 has already been launched. Millions of volunteers across the country are so invested in that site. That can't be put to waste. That website is the tool people have used to create and host events. That fundamental function will continue to be relevant. Google just launched a browser that is faster. MyBO has to become faster. My profile page takes forever to load. The basic functions have to be made more robust, and perhaps elements have to be added.
Do Events, Blog Events
Obama 2008 produced numerous leaders at the grassroots levels. I would not be surprised if many of those end up running for local, state and federal offices. For now, the local leaders have to keep putting together local events where people can gather and mingle, discuss and reconnect. The best aspect of Obama 2008's use of internet technology was that it was able to bring people to gather and meet in person, press the flesh. It was face time, it was not screen time.
Major Events For The Major Votes
There will be a few times over the next eight years when Barack is going to need Congress to pass a big bill, like the bill for universal health care for example. The grassroots has to be involved in the crafting of the bill itself, people who will vote on it also. But once Barack has decided a bill is ready, and it is time for the vote, the grassroots army has to swing into action like it were election time all over again.
Quality Face Time
MyBO should make that possible. Of course quality time is getting to have dinner with Barack, like Rivera from the Bronx did early in the campaign. But since Barack will be busy, we will have to create quality time for each other.
Intelligent, Informed Debate, Decent Government
It is a wonderful thing that a government of the people is actually going to be a government of the people. And Barack's positive mantra is going to lead to a decent government. This hope guy has a tendency to elevate the status of you and me and all. Decency has its value. Respect has its value. Did I tell you? I am a declared student of Barack's new kind of politics.
This thing is so big, it is not making sense to me. It is just so huge. I can try and draw historic parallels, but there is no denying we are breaking new ground. Noone really saw it coming, although many warned of the malpractices in the mortgage industry.
That was the last big crisis of this proportion, although the times were much more painful back then. A wrong lesson to draw would be to think now is the time to usher in a new bag of entitlement programs. There is no free lunch, the cliche goes. Someone somewhere has to pay. That someone could be unborn children, but they are still paying.
This Is America Paying For The Iraq War
The direct cost was the trillion Bush poured into the Iraqi sands. The indirect cost is this global financial meltdown, although it no longer feels all that indirect.
Bin Laden, Right?
Bin Laden talked of "the myth of the superpower" before he drove the Soviets out of Afghanistan. 9/11 triggered the Iraq War that triggered this financial crisis. Wall Street saw the White House act wildly fiscally irresponsible, and it mirrored the behavior.
The communist Russia of 1917 scared the capitalist west. The welfare state of the FDR types was a synthesis to save capitalism and democracy. The challenge of the War On Terror is for America to morph into becoming a non racist democracy. The election of a Barack Obama is a good start.
700 Billion Bailout, 500 Billion Stimulus?
The answer to America's economic challenges are not in the past. If the American taxpayer does not get all those 700 billion dollars back, the Paulson gang did not dole out the money right. They will have thrown good money after bad. The bad behavior that brought forth this bad mess has to be part of the rectification. Loans and mortgages have to be renegotiated so most people can keep their homes. Losses will be suffered. Inflated assets will not stand.
To say the rich got the 700 billion bailout, so let the poor get the 500 billion stimulus, that thinking alarms me a little for a few different reasons. One, 500 billion is a lot of money. Two, this 500 billion is not coming back. You could argue a big chunk of the 700 billion might not come back either. Three, this looks like too much of an effort to rescue the old industries. It is for America to invent new industries. The biggest effort ought be to invest massively in human capital. Universal health care and universal broadband are what tomorrow asks for. Broadband is the interstate highway for tomorrow.
Balanced Budgets: Still Sexy As Ever
You can't do it in one year, or even four. But if you can't deliver a balanced budget in five, six years, the pendulum is going to swing the other way. The Democrats can't hurry up and snatch the fiscal indiscipline mantle from the Republicans and still hope to rule for any length of time. Someone somewhere is paying.
Ending the misadventure in Iraq is going to be a big part of bringing down the deficit. Hopefully the US federal government will get a good return on its 700 billion investment in the financial sector. Maybe 700 billion will have become a trillion in five years. It is possible, if the right decisions are being made now. That could help usher a new era of balanced budgets. Health care reform, if done right, is to be a money saver for the country. Universal wireless broadband is to bring the educational costs down too.
Global Financial Architecture
Global warming, global terrorism, global WMD proliferation, global financial meltdown, global US President. Barack did his elementary school in the Third World, the guy has family on three continents.
I think the number one lesson of this crisis is that the big heads need to come together and put in place a new, robust global financial structure in place. No country is an island. No one country can do it alone.
The mind is a beautiful thing. I remember the details from the weeks before June 4 more vividly than the six months after June 4, although I remember those six months just fine. As long as they did not deport me, and I was not physically hurt, I got a steel interior. I am like one of those weeds you can't get rid of. I got strong survival instincts, like James Bond and Jason Bourne, only I am not a fist fighter. My skills are political.
I went to Rudy's, and I made it to the South Asians For Obama event at 8:30 that same evening where I stayed for half an hour - "I got to make it to Westchester" - and I felt out of place both places. Earlier in the day I spent about two wonderful hours walking around with my second Adam, my second big catch for my startup, whom I would never have met if I had never showed up on the Island, and I am thinking, perhaps I should say goodbye to the four white Manhattan organizations - DL, DL21C, DFNYC, MYD - absolutely, completely, perhaps I should not go to political events no more, that all my socializing should be to do with my startup, period.
Justin Krebs was not there at Rudy's, and it looked to me like Drinking Liberally was dying as an organization. I think I counted only five people, as opposed to the usual 50. Stephanie showed. She is the most permanent fixture at Rudy's, more so than Krebs. But she is not on the DL Politburo. That right there is the tragedy of the Minority Female.
In a city that is 60% nonwhite, if 90% of the people in a room are white, that is a white room. The first day I got picked up by NYPD, some of the questions I got asked were, is that your vehicle parked in front of your house, how do you get to the freeway from here, where is the tunnel? Before I got told I was a threat to Charlie dumbfuck Rangel, I was metioned the John McCain name. How was I going to react? My reaction to McCain, then and now, is boredom. Yawn.
Maybe Drinking Liberally thinks I am a threat to Justin Krebs, that is why he did not show.
Dan Berger exhibited animal behavior at the Senator Mary event. As of October 2007, Spitzer had done nothing to secure himself a place in world history, I had. But Berger would never have acted the way to Spitzer the way he did to me. That is what makes him a racist white wannabe male. That lowly staffer to an insignificant Congressman - insignificant as in insignificant to world history - described me a physical threat to himself in October 2007, and that was not based on anything I had said, any physical gesture on my part, he described me a physical threat to Elizabeth Caputo in January, Loser Lupinacci in attendance, a few months later that dumbfuck described me a physical threat to Charlie dumbfuck Rangel. The nonwhite person as a violent person is only one step away from the nonwhite person as a dumb person, the nonwhite person as a lazy person. It is image making, it is racist demonization. For Loser Lupinacci to say "You have crossed the line" is racist, but not as racist as Dumbfuck Berger saying I was a "threat to Elizabeth." Neither of them are British. ERC and Denton are British.
Howard Dean never showed up for a DFNYC event with the express intention of meeting Lewis Cohen. After April 2006 Dean showed up at a DFNYC Mixer with the express intention of meeting me. Half an hour before Dean showed up Cohen had to make the point that now I needed to go through him if I wanted to go anywhere in NYC politics. Josh is like, don't get too close, stay away from Dean. He is too famous and big and I am half way there. Two hours later Cohen says to Denton: "Did he screw you at your blog?" I called him a white asshole male a few days later, and a few different times. At a Tom Daschle event, after Daschle recognized him, Cohen immediately turned around and looked at me. Don't you know who I am! About 10 minutes later I thanked Daschle for the trip he had made to Nepal months prior. "You spread some hope when there was very little hope going around." That country is very special to me, he said.
Liz did what Lupinacci did: those were mirror situations. If you are not going to like her back, I am going to say something racist to you.
An African friend relayed a story to me in early 1997. An older white guy, a townie, tried to show him how to use the icecream machine at Food Service. To the African it felt like an experience in racism. A white guy trying to act matchmaker in NYC is showing you how to use the icecream machine.
I did not emerge angry. I am not opposed to meeting any name I have mentioned. It is just that I am not sure I have the legal option to meet anyone DL21C right now. Right now I don't know if the harassment charge was dropped by ERC or NYPD. It is possible it was dropped by NYPD. This guy was on the Island a month, and he is to be deported anyways, so why bother? Drop it. Fly him away. Legalese aside, I made a decison inside. Unless DL21C and ERC directly contacted me to say things are normal now, I was going to stay away indefinitely. That decision made social sense. That also might be the safe thing to do, safety for me. I like my freedom, I like my privacy.
I got bored at Rudy's a few days back. I felt out of place. My biggest consternation with the biggies of the four white organizations has been from day one how you can't get them to email back. Initially I thought maybe they think I am too small a fish. But that behavior did not change even after I was pretty sure they thought I was a big fish. You email them, and they will not email back. Weird. I never understood that. This is a 5.0 town. I want to turn it into a 2.0, 3.0, 5.0 town.
Globally speaking gender is a bigger deal than race. I saw female guards in Alabama having a hard time asserting authority. And so I was going to give political room to women like HRC, ERC and TD. I was willing to take some pain. But white women acting racist are white women not giving s___t about Minority Females also. White women in racist bonding with White Males and White Wannabe Males are not my idea of progressive politicos. You can't do race gender business with them. White Wannabe Males act racist when they are trying hard to be white. White women act protective of white men when white men engage in racist words, racist attitudes. Makes you think. That is not fertile progressive ground. Rather that is what regressives call "the Southern strategy."
HRC wants nothing more than to see a woman president in her lifetime. That woman is a hero of mine. For one, she is not dumb.
Of all the famous people I have read about, the one I most relate to right now is Larry Ellison. Larry had a sweetheart. She went to college. A year later he showed up wanting to marry her. She said she was engaged.
"Excuse me!?" Larry reacted.
At this stage in his career Larry's private life was described "a train wreck." He grew up in Chicago's Jewish ghetto. His third wife left him for a Harvard MBA. His first wife laughed when he promised to make a million dollars if she stayed with him. His second wife would put makeup before going to bed so she did not have to rush in the morning.
There was a time in my life when I could not say I can eat as many eggs as I want. That time lasted until I was about 23 when I flew to America. Until 23 there was this village that I called my homevillage, your typical Third World village, no electricity, no post office, mud roads. Nepal is the poorest country outside of Africa. But then a cousin to my mother was Laloo Yadav's Education Minister in Bihar. Her family was the leading family in her village. My father's was the leading family in his village. I went to the best school in Nepal. And I stepped onto the concept of the post-ISMs individual early on. That is why class as an identity platform has never been mine. And culture also has been elusive. My sense of belonging does not come from any country, any high school, any college. It comes from my family, NYC, my company. I wonder if that is why I am so individualistic.