Tuesday, January 13, 2009

"A New and Refreshingly Different Experience"

Change. The theme of this year's Presidential Election. The agent at the center of all peril and progress. The story of my life.

So lucky day for me this past November 4th when me and 300 million of my closest friends scored a young, hip, populist president that fits two fundamental criteria I didn't realize I had for a president until Barack Obama exhibited them so effectively throughout his campaign:

1) The foresight to treat our challenges as opportunities.
2) Placing science AND the will of the people at the center of policy-making decisions without oppressing minority populations (race, tax bracket, choice of creative or religious expression, etc).

Before I start sounding like an Obama fanboy, allow me to mention a couple of early Obama moves I'm none-too-thrilled about. I'm not impressed with his choice of Sanjay Gupta for Surgeon General. Feels too much like reality tv for me. Couldn't we get someone with more credentials than notoriety? And I'm not impressed with his one sentence answer regarding cannabis legalization given it was the highest rated question on the change.gov site, which he opened explicitly to get valuable feedback from the people. It was especially shady that they reordered the top 5 list when they sent out the responses. For some reason the question voted #1 was listed #4 and shafted in the "legitimate answer" department. But I understand how the political game works, and from what I've gathered of the man, I fully expect Obama to give us the opportunity to EARN the policy changes we the people truly want to see. Not only that, I expect him to do it without having to stick his neck out far enough for the status quo to chop his head off.

My theory is that Barack Obama's most potent weapon is the ability to understand and manipulate the variables at play to reach a reasonable outcome for most of those affected.

[tangent alert!]

Understanding the variables at play in any given situation creates a marked advantage towards monopolizing available resources. Up until very recently, those "in power," to me meaning those with monetary, celebrity, or political influence, have had near exclusive access to most of the variables which determine resource distribution. Don't get me wrong, I am not here to place blame. Society has always lived and died on "bread and circuses." What we the people need to realize is that thanks to the wonders of modern technology we don't need the middleman anymore.

With the ability to share knowledge globally in real time comes a better informed, better educated, and better trained populace. For the first time in recorded history the human species has a means for a fair and democratic distribution of responsibility and reward. With a more evenly distributed level of control over resources, we can stop handing our resources over to the corporations and governments that are then charged with the task of designing, building, and packaging our destiny for us just to sell it back to us on a sliding scale. (Now 25% more sensation of being victimized, free!)

To give an example of a resource that has been denied us, I give you the sham that is network and cable television. A few relatively enlightening channels and programs notwithstanding, I am pretty ashamed of what gets sold to us over "the people's airwaves." Just google "worst reality shows" and you'll see what I mean. Of course that is just the tip of the iceberg. People actually have to turn that crap on for it to infect them. Dont' get me started on my dad's Maury Povich addiction.

But what about those who try to get informed? 24-hour news networks suck and I think most people know it. I thank Jon Stewart for every montage he's every put together showing just how vacuous and/or misleading cable news tends to be. The fact that most news outlets and television stations are owned by major corporations that are busy selling us everything else we don't necessarily need is one of the most disconcerting aspects of our consumer culture. It's up to us to seek and provide better information to each other.

[/tangent]

So it's officially 7 days before we trade G Dub for Obama and honestly I couldn't be happier. There is simply no way the next four years will see worse leadership than the last four years, and I am comfortable with the man the country chose to lead. How does everyone nerdy enough to like this blog (or unfortunate enough to "stumble upon" [tm] it) feel about how close we got, in TWO THOUSAND FUCKING EIGHT, to electing a president that needs his wife to help him send an email?! (link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/06/11/mccain-admits-he-doesnt-k_n_106478.html).

But no, we got change. We got Obama. We got the almost polar opposite of John McCain and the hopefully now defunct era of neoconservative republicanism. This was not just a partisan affair, however. I don't even consider myself a democrat. As the youngest contender in the race I strongly feel Obama was the only contender on the right side of a socio-technologic-philosophic(al) generation gap. From his choice of Nobel Laureate and green technology genius Steven Chu to his innovative outreach efforts with Change.gov and Change.org (shady dodging of the legalization question notwithstanding), Barack Obama has so far done much to prove to me that he is truly going about things differently.

I'll give the skeptics their due and (mostly) agree that for now it's all rhetoric. But I just can't help but find myself a few steps beyond cautious optimism. What a new and refreshingly different experience.

3 comments:

AZWiner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Damo said...

Man, is Winer your given name or did you pick it out all by yourself? :-p

"how does a rant on CHANGE end up with a tangent on bashing the mainstream media... the world amazes me."

This is almost not enough of a complete thought to deserve a response, but I'll give it one anyway. Mainstream media sucks = anytime is the right time to change it. Seeing as how a great many people listen to repetitive, misleading, unsubstantial drivel all day, I have a serious gripe with mainstream media. Sue me. Thanks to the internet I can ignore every bit of shitty tv I want, which I do, while finding and watching any programming I DO want, anytime, for free.

"It also interests me that people believe technology will take power from those who have consistently had power in the world (like you said, $, celebrity and politics) and somehow transfer it to the general public."

There is no way technology will do this on its own, what I said was technology gives us the opportunity to eliminate the middle man. The fundamental resource "they" have over "us" is information. But the monopoly is broken if we want it bad enough. Tech = a chance for the average person to quickly and easily create and globally share information instead of relying on traditional media to inevitably only satisfy the least common denominator.

"And really, another rant about how television sucks? TELEVISION SUCKS."

Until it gets "better" there is absolutely no reason to stop ranting about how shitty television is. There is plenty of time for me to give props to quality programming/personalities (a la Jon Stewart) in other posts.

"And as for Sanja Gupta... the Surgeon General's job is, for the most part, a public service campaigner... and who better than to have a intelligent, well-spoken entertainer who's a practicing surgeon as that."

This is where we may actually agree. I had the same impulse but decided to speak from my cynical side on this one. However, deep down I'm hoping Obama based some of his appointments (including Gupta) on picking the right notable figure to do his bidding while providing a legitimate sense of inclusiveness.

As you say, the Surgeon General is just a public service campaigner, and as you say, who better to do such a job than CNN's medical correspondent?

But do me a favor and try this, when you've got beef with the validity of what I write don't just piss on it, spin something useful out of it, eh?

<3

Damo said...

No fair deleting your comment!

Now I just look like a crazy person bitching at thin air.

Good thing I'm used to it. ::shrugs::