The idea was simple. Democrats would fight everywhere, not just in blue states but in red ones as well. They would fight on every level, on local and state issues, even if they had no chance. But they would fight.
Dean, plus Katrina, combined to make 2006 the only mid-term election of this century where Democrats enjoyed an unalloyed triumph. This holds important lessons for today’s Democrats, and for their technology overlords.
First, it makes little sense to just complain, as they did during Trump’s Inauguration. You need to go on offense.
Here’s one example. Atlanta is electing a new mayor this year. What should they be doing and how should they be using technology? Educate the candidates, discover your best student, and get people behind them. Don’t just sit back passively and wait for great leaders to emerge. Create them. Everywhere.
Technology can help, by identifying issues, by supplying software and expertise. Technology companies can help by funding leadership seminars, by identifying issues and expounding them, educating tomorrow’s leaders about them, developing people. That’s what the right did after Jimmy Carter won in 1976. That’s how you beat Trump.
There is a price for that. Democrats will need to fight on technology’s turf. They can’t be obsessing over ships that have sailed. Democrats must understand what their masters care most about, and adapt themselves to that agenda where they can.
This starts with human capital.
Technology runs on human capital. Not trained hands, but trained minds. The very best minds. A country that can produce these minds in greatest quantity, that provides opportunity for them to do their best work, that allows them to collaborate, and that then leaves them alone is going to grow.
Technology has fought for charter schools because they promise elite education, regardless of income. Mark Zuckerberg ain’t getting any younger, folks. Let a thousand Zuckerbergs bloom. Yes, that’s a small minority among us, but that’s one key difference between the 21st century and the 20th. We need more of the best and brightest.
This used to describe the United States. It doesn’t any more. Today too many of our university places are held by foreign students, which is not a problem in that they’re qualified, but is a problem in that they are generally more qualified than their U.S. counterparts.
There’s another problem, at least for liberals. What technology wants is elite education. More elite education, but elite education nonetheless. We’re talking about education where, as with a good football program, teachers are looking for talent to nurture, for potential excellence, rather than giving every kid a base.
We need to give talent and passion every opportunity to find itself, on every level. That’s something that can distinguish us from our rivals, a willingness to find and nurture talent even after kids fall off the science and engineering fast track. Even on university level.
We also need to understand that a university education is a prerequisite for success in the 21st century. We need to stop talking about K-12 education, and talk about K-16 education. Anyone who gets less is liable to become a drag on society, unless the last few years include technical learning that is flexible, that adds the ability to adapt to change, that teaches people how to learn, not just what they need to know to get a job today. That’s a message that can reach every parent, regardless of how bright their kid is.
We also need more focus on getting more value from education. This brings up a host of issues, in school board races, and in state legislative races, for 2018. Does a candidate support science? Do they accept evidence on basic science, and how supportive are they of high-quality math and science education? How supportive are they of kids having their own minds, allowing them to pursue their passions, even if youthful arrogance leads them in directions the administration may not like?
The issue in education is freedom. Freedom for kids. Freedom from parents trying to indoctrinate them against reality. Freedom from churches trying to force them into intellectual straitjackets. Freedom from governments that care more about football players and cheerleaders than engineers and programmers.
Modern education is not just about grades. It’s not about standardized tests. It’s about identifying, nurturing and celebrating talent, encouraging it as the nations that are beating us encourage it. We have a lot of private groups working in this direction, but they need the support of public policy, and they don’t have it.
Time to get it for them.
The second key issue is the planet. We’re going to see some unprecedented “natural disasters” in the next two years, storms that will make Hurricane Sandy look small, droughts that will make California look paltry. Cities are going underwater and they’re not coming back.
We need to start fighting for this planet. And we can’t do it alone. We need every country around the world to do its part, to not only meet but exceed its goals under the Paris accords.
Sure, that starts with this country, and this creates great issues where technology and Democrats are in sync. But it also includes other countries around the world, transforming the focus of “war” from its 19th century meaning, a battle between nations, and its 20th century meaning, a battle between ideologies, into what will become its 21st century meaning, a battle against ignorance and climate change.
There will be areas where technology and Democrats disagree here, and again it’s Democrats who must give way if they’re to win back power. I’m thinking of things like genetic science, GMOs, and large-scale experimentation on proteins and DNA, which must happen if we’re to have grandchildren. It’s too late to save this planet as Al Gore sought to save it, bending the curve of global temperature slowly and gently. We need to accept the need for radical solutions, because without them Earth goes to the rats and the cockroaches.
We have already created the greatest extinction event since the dinosaurs. Let’s not make it worse by joining them.
The only way to avoid that fate is for those who understand what is at stake to go on offense.