17 November 2008

Obama Won't Change Much

About a week ago, my pal Mark Story and I were kicking around the idea of discussing how an Obama Administration would change things. For political hack/PR flack/social media mac daddies like us, it's a fun topic that allows us to call in other folks and sound "smart" by writing another one of those "the world has changed, utterly and forever" posts. And Mark did me proud. So here's the cold, hard truth about what the Obama Administration will change.

Not much.

Sure, the military will leave Iraq sooner. And policies will dramatically shift on things like stem cell research, and how we approach rebuilding the economy, and how we address the fates of the detainees at Guantamo Bay. There will be a lot less political editing of scientific documents from EPA, NSF and NIH. If Congress kicks in, we'll see a realignment of the tax code to spark an explosion in clean and renewable energy technology investment, and a lot more people will have health coverage.

And while the Obama Administration will be the ones who implement these changes, the truth is the American people have decided to make them. The only real change that President-elect Obama has made himself - at least so far - is he's convinced enough people that he'll actually do the things that people have been demanding for quite some time now. Americans think he'll do more than lecture and that he'll do more than listen. Americans think he will respond.

I've heard it said the Bush Administration believed that by voting for them, the people gave them the mandate to decide everything for us. It's not that input wasn't welcome; it's that input was already given on election day in 2000 and 2004 and no further input was required. I'm not sure that's exactly how it was but I can see why some might say that.

However, we've reached critical mass over the past eight years. With instant communication people now demand instant accountability on issues that happen in real time. The cranky blogger living in the basement, writing screeds that only he will read has been replaced by millions of people in constant communication with each other, who feel varying degrees of ownership over the issues that affect their lives and who believe that working together they can make some progress, despite the disagreements that still exist.

President-elect Obama didn't create this change. He's said so himself. He simply understood its existence. He used the tools people use today to communicate with each other, and by doing so he convinced us he knows politics is not a lecture.

Now he has to prove he gets it, and I'm not just talking about social media. We're long past the point where you convince people you get it by publishing a blog or putting together a spiffy YouTube channel. They're just tools. He'll have to listen and respond.

Personally, I'd love to read the thoughts on how an Obama Administration will change things from:

Tim Hurst, a master of green policy
Julie Marsh who shows strong leadership in the mom-o-sphere every day
Susan Getgood who continues to show the rest of us how social media is done
Chris Hogan who is the best-dressed man I know and lives in the DC area to boot

4 comments:

Susan Getgood said...

Wow, David. You've given us quite a challenge. I'm going to give it the due deliberation it merits.

And thank you for the kind sentiments about me.

mothergoosemouse said...

This has been the nicest part of my day. Really. Thank you.

I look forward to responding once my extremely unexpected domain transfer goes through.

PunditMom said...

This is an excellent question and a lot of food for thought. I can't wait to read what all these great people have to say.

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