Trouble is everything I’ve seen involves re-branding, re-positioning. Marketing.
But there is a way to get this done. Open source politics.
It starts with new Values, values created on the Internet and tested through the Open Source movement. Openness. Transparency. Consensus. These are the values that created the Greatest Boom Ever. These are the values of the Open Source movement, which has given its name to this form of politics.
These are the values of the Netroots, both left and right. When politicians have looked at the Internet – whether the issue was campaign financing or net neutrality – bloggers on both sides of the aisle have been united, on the same side.
That’s enormously significant.
When facts on an issue are plain, people will follow a consensus. And this is the heart of Open Source politics, finding consensus, finding agreement. This is the great contrast with Republican values, the short-term values of conflict that have become ingrained in Americans since the Age of Nixon, since the 1960s. Us-them, white-black, liberal-conservative, point-counterpoint.
To the past with all of it.
The fact is most Americans realize this planet is dieing. Most Americans also know that only innovation can solve our energy problems. Most Americans know that knowledge, the sharing of knowledge, the triumph of a scientific, open source method over mere rhetoric, is the only way out.
There’s also a precedent for this kind of jiu-jitsu, in the story of one of America’s holiest historical icons, Coca-Cola. When Robert Woodruff became president of the company, in 1923, it was in a fierce dispute with bottlers over the price of sugar. Rather than address that directly, Woodruff told the bottlers, what can we do to make sure every bottle of Coca-Cola tastes like every other, wherever it is purchased?
The answer to that question, of course, was water purification.
What we face now is a similar opportunity. Instead talking about Iraq, or Israel, what if Democrats asked this question – what must we do to get off hydrocarbons?
Even a 10% move from hydrocarbons to solar power (or anything that can create electricity and, thus, hydrogen off the energy grid) will have a profound impact on energy prices, and start a virtuous cycle leading to a living, rather than a dieing world.
And that’s what an open source myth – what any new political myth – is all about. It’s about asking a different question, approaching problems in a different way.
- What must we do to save the Union?
- How can we bring more people into the middle class?
- What will bring back optimism?
- Who’s the real enemy?
These are all questions posed in answer to our previous Great Crises – the answers of Lincoln, of the Roosevelts, and (yes) of Richard Milhous Nixon.
To reach new answers, we must ask basic questions in new ways.
And that starts with the values of this medium, and with the Open Source political myth.