Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Always playing "catch up," or can we get out in front?

In 2010, the United States Supreme Court opened the floodgates with its decision in the Citizens United case.

In 2012, the richest Americans who were most determined to purchase the American Presidency (and Congress) put forth great effort to fulfill the promise of Citizens United. In the end, in many cases, they were frustrated in that pursuit, in large part because of the role of social media.

At the beginning of the 2013 Arizona legislative session, certain people (and groups) asked me to help with research (like bill tracking) and in writing for op-eds, letters to editors and social media content. The idea seemed intriguing and for a short time, I went for it. Within just a couple of weeks, however, it became apparent that traditional grassroots activism during legislative sessions was sometimes an exercise in futility and looked increasingly like people trying to play catch up in a foot race with Big Money.

The challenge at this point in history is figuring out how to get ahead of the curve.

Two books I'm now reading provide key insight, Citizenville: How to Take the Town Square Digital and Reinvent Government (by Gavin Newsom, former mayor of San Francisco, currently serving as California Lieutenant Governor) and Plutocrats: the Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else (by Thomson Reuters digital editor and financial writer, Chrystia Freeland).

The first important insight is that despite pushback from those resisting change, the technological revolution of government is and will be unstoppable. The only questions to be asked relate to how much how soon and, how to maintain data security/process integrity. Those questions WILL be answered. They will NOT stop the revolution.

The book Future Shock was written and became a worldwide best seller when I was in high school. While I never read it, the concept was always at least on the back burner for me. Therefore, I have been aware  for more than 40 years that society would be and is experiencing technological change at accelerating speed. Reflecting back on those 40-plus years, it's very easy to recognize many of the changes that we now cannot (easily) live without.

For me, looking back on my work in a telecommunications systems control center overseas for the US Air Force as a (very) young adult, highlights this reality. From 1974-76, the now starkly archaic dedicated teletype "orderwires" we used operated at the lightning speed of 110 baud. Later in the 1970s, working for Western Union Telegraph Company, I and my co-workers were amazed at high-speed modems operating at 9.6kbps (9600 baud). When I first got on the Internet in the mid-1990s, dial up phone modems typically maxed out at 56kbps. Today, 56K is archaic.

Western Union's history dramatically illustrates the capitalistic idea of "adapt or die." As we've seen over the last few years with newspapers, technological advances can be incredibly disruptive. But they cannot be stopped.

There are plenty of places and directions to go in follow up to this essay. 

For now, suffice it to say that WE who RIGHTFULLY OWN American government must mandate the direction political system re-invention must go. In so doing, we can and we will reestablish the role of the voice of the American People, but we must embrace the vision of change rather than keep doing things the way we've learned to do them up to this point. 

What will such a re-invention of American politics, lawmaking and public policy determination look like? That's a question for MANY others. Others who will embrace the need for change, who will engage their imagination and who will speak up and write essays, editorial columns and books setting forth their vision.

We already know what it does NOT look like. It does not look like the Tinfoil Hat Brigades being advocated by the Wes Harrises of the world (or the John Birch Society). 

The US Armed Forces are already setting the example for institutional change. The 12-page report, "Adapt or Die: the Imperative for a Culture of Innovation in the United States Army" is key. Of course the military is a large institution and is not always willing to let everyone know what it is up to. The Pentagon has made no secret, however, about its view that energy is a matter of national security.

Seemingly "under-the-radar" American military bases have been installing massive solar power generating capacity. Equally important, the Army and Marine Corps are developing portable solar applications

In the meantime, we must Move to Amend the United States Constitution and overturn Citizens United.

1 comment:

  1. ‘Tinfoil Hat or Black Helicopter Brigade?’ and this article are both well worth the read. Thanks.