These are tumultuous days indeed. War, disease, drought, famine are occurring all around the world. In the US, protests and riots, governors indicted for a variety of felonies, and governmental paralysis has lead to a feeling of helplessness among chaos.
Then the stunning and bewildering news that Hello Kitty is not a cat.
Among all that, I have some good news to report.
(Cue Star Trek intro music) Honolulu -- not too far from the final frontier- Puna. This is the story of Sulu -- also known as Honolulu resident, and gay rights activist icon, George Takei, who explores the strange new corners of the Internet, seeking out good causes, and boldly going where not enough people have gone to help before - mainly with amusing Tweets and Facebook posts.
Our story begins with a super PAC gone rogue. A super political action committee to literally end all super PACs. Mayday super PAC, started by Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig, has the goal of electing candidates to push for public funding of elections in order to end the corrupting influence of big money in American politics.
Mayday wants to prove that money in politics can be an election winning issue. So to do that they are supporting candidates who want to get money out of politics, and then injecting their campaigns with lots of money so they can actually win. If they are successful this election they hope to scale up to hundreds of millions of dollars to elect a Congress that will get the money out of politics forever.
Their goal was to raise $5 mil by July 4. If they didn't do that they were going to return all the money they raised back to the donors. By 10 a.m. on July 4 they were still more than a million dollars away! Then out of no where they got a notification that George Takei (aka Sulu) was going to tweet about the Mayday PAC. Here's his call to action:
Battlestations! If you follow me, I ask you RT this. Donate $3 to take back our democracy from the super wealthy: mayday.us
6:34am - 4 Jul 14
Lessig believes that Tweet was worth about $750,000. As more people got exposed to what this idea was they just rallied. After that everyone just started piling on -- like MoveOn.org and Progressive Change. It became such a frenzy that they raised another half million dollars. Before this Lessig was waking up every night at 2 a.m. thinking how crazy ambitious this was, and how they weren't going to make it. They were so sure they weren't going to make it that they had been planning for weeks how they were going to make a bold statement and be the first super PAC to return money to its donors.
However, the mayday call was heard! Now thanks to electrons moving at the speed of light from a big rock in the middle of the Pacific (aka Oahu) and across the Internet and around the world, the helmsman Sulu (or at least the guy who played him) may have just steered the ship into position and locked photon torpedoes onto oligarch pirates intent on hijacking democracy.
This will begin a dialogue inside the mainstream media as to whether this is an issue that could really matter! The political press will begin talking about the salience of this corruption and it's impact on voters. The common wisdom is that this issue cannot win elections. No one will change their vote on the basis of this issue. No incumbents will lose their seat on the basis of this issue. No reason to build campaigns or movements around this issue. If it can be shown in a diverse range of seats it does matter that will be a game changer. Hundreds of millions will be raised, and used in 2016 to elect candidates with a track record of wanting to get the money out of politics.
And George Takei... he received over 28,000 likes when he promoted the PAC on his Facebook page recently. So watch out Koch Brothers, you just pissed off the wrong guy.