The Open Source Presidency

IMG_3833We have a new president elect.

Of course, history has been made on all sorts of levels. More than any election in recent memory, this seems to represent a repudiation of the policies of the last eight years. And of course, we will be walking down new pathways in regards to race in our country, the scars that we carry from years of sin.

Many more intelligent than I are offering reams of analysis on the election, and I encourage you to listen to their wisdom. Yet, as I sit here at my desk on a new day, I have to offer my two cents to the world or words about the upcoming Obama presidency.

Just a few minutes ago, I read some spew that attempted to suggest that Obama’s election was due primarily to the fawning of the establishment, liberal biased media. Trying to argue against such spew is pretty futile, for the beliefs that guide it run deep and move beyond rationality. However, to see this election in terms of the categories that went before is to miss the point.

It seems to me that what Obama did, drawing on his community organizer background, was to run an “open source” campaign. For sure, there was message discipline and the campaign maintained control of the overall operation at some level. However, that control was always in the purpose of serving the huge grassroots operation that drove the campaign. Senator Obama will come into office without the ties to establishment interests or corporate money because he drew on large numbers of small donations which created energy and interest among the donors. Senator Obama had field operations staffed by volunteers in every state in the nation, even places like Tennessee where he had little shot of success. These volunteers were passionate, and worked like banshees on their own dimes to bring about the change they desired.

As importantly, Senator Obama’s internet presence created a system of connections and relationships that transcended ordinary politics. Daily I and millions of others would receive a text messages letting me know what was happening, the challenges of the day, and messages of encouragement in the down times. Through social networks like Facebook, small regional groups of Obama supporters where enabled and these groups formed a base that was not easily swayed.

It is my perspective that the first thing Obama needs to bring to the presidency is a means by which to convert his grassroots, open source, operation to the business of governance. His teams of volunteers should be converted to a system of national service groups focused on addressing the problems of our day in each of our communities. The White House communication office should be expanded into a government wide Bureau of Communication, utilizing ALL forms of communication for sharing messages of concern and interest directly to the American public without the gatekeepers of mass media. What Obama could offer is a new vision of the presidency, a vision in which the president is just learning how to use “The Google,” but rather is more efficiently using all of the various networks available in this country to effect change.

This “open source” form of governance would remove some of the power of the office of president and the congress, placing more power in the hands of the people. However, it has the possibility of moving beyond partisanship into networks of change.

As is true in all open-source projects, it won’t be easy, for it requires investments in time and energy.

But what have we got to lose at this point. Let’s do something very special.

2 thoughts on “The Open Source Presidency

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