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Blow up the Beltway

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In US politics they talk about Inside The Beltway the same way the tech industry talks about Silicon Valley.

Now, people may question whether Barack Obama really wants to connect with the power of the whole nation, or if once he gets elected he'll be an Inside The Beltway guy. I don't know if he will or he won't. I'm old enough to know that it's an important question, because I've seen bright young idealistic people get taken over by the systems they proposed to dismantle. But I also believe that it's the nature of the times to decentralize, so if Obama has the guts, and there's every reason to believe he does, it should actually work, imho.

A picture named uncleSamWeWon.gifFrank Rich, in his column in Sunday's NY Times, explains that, on Tuesday night, Hillary Clinton and John McCain gave the same speech. Clinton's was better rehearsed, it's the same one she's been giving for months, the "fairy tale" speech that Bill Clinton gave in New Hampshire. The "angels will sing" speech she gave in Ohio and the "shame on you Barack Obama" speech in Pennsylvania. Someone taught McCain how to laugh, but it's falling apart like a Botox injection, turning into something else, something nasty. Both of them were echoing the same sentiment as the president from the previous century when he ached out loud -- "Give me a break."

People who saw the Internet as a fund-raising phenomenon after the Dean campaign were missing the point, as we said over and over, and I think at first Obama missed it too -- but he has a young, flexible and ambitious mind. When Clinton said in one of the debates that he must not only denounce Lewis Farrakhan, he must also reject him, you could see his eyes light up (at 5:52 in the video) -- Okay cooool, he said "I reject him!" So when the Internet proved it could deliver minds and bodies in addition to dollars and cents, who was Young Obama to argue?

This is the kind of flexibility you rarely see in anyone, esp in someone as young as Obama. Always look for ways to submit, to surrender. Decide what's important to you and give up on everything else. Who cares what word you want to use -- you want me to reject, then I reject!

Only Steal From The Best. :-)

(Fired up! Ready to go!)

Obama will go to Iraq as Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman demand, but he will also go to Europe and we'll get to see, on TV, how Obama plays overseas. This will hopefully get him more votes at home, as people here yearn to be part of the rest of the world, not just push it around. There will be Barack portraits hanging in barber shops in Milwaukee, Birmingham and Bozeman, as well as Tokyo and Buenos Aires, perhaps even Cairo and Jakarta.

But back to my point. As much as I believe in the idea of Obama, if he doesn't live up to it, I'll still believe in the idea, because I always have. I don't want to be an insider, I don't want the insiders to rule, I don't want there to be insiders at all. I want to distribute opportunity and acknowledge intelligence and goodness where ever it appears. I fought against the centralized Inside The Beltway way of doing things in Silicon Valley, and we won. Of course a new aristocracy pops up but their power is as thin as the people whose power got popped in every bubble that came before.

The Internet destabilizes every hierarchy it contacts. It erases every barrier to entry. The only way to win is to point off-site, in every way you can think of. Win by offering better value, not by locking users in. People will become instant refugees to escape your clutches. Think you're immune? Think again.

Update: Papa Doc approves. :-)

Update: Micah Sifry and Patrick Ruffini agree Obama's use of the Internet deserves more attention.

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