Blue dawn

“We should throw this in,” I said, brandishing our just-arrived copy of Crashing the Gates. “Who knows, maybe Markos will be here!”
Jen looked at me dubiously. “OK, but it’s going in your bag.”
We’d just arrived at an early-stage meeting of the New Politics Institute out in the Presidio after driving down a crazily steep and long hill that we’d biked up (due to my at the time rusty SF navigational skills) a few months ago, right after we’d moved here. Tonight, the sun was setting over the golden gate and the somewhat out of place and striking pastoral beauty and quiet of the base-turned-park was all around us.
Seconds later we walked up to the venue, early, and – pardon the shameless namedropping that is about to occur – the man himself was sitting on the front stoop of the building. Actually the men, as he was sitting and chatting with Simon Rosenberg. Mr Moulitsas kindly signed our copy, so apparently we’re among the first of very many to have an autographed copy of it. Hopefully news of this fact won’t get my bag stolen on muni.
The event was mostly great. There were a couple of times during Mr Rosenberg’s schpiel that I thought were chair standingly, fist pumpingly good (I avoided doing so). I feel like they’ve really got the right read on the current situation and are working hard to bring new energy into the movement.
The mostly part is that it still seems like we’re at the bottom of a hill as long as the one we rode our bikes up. One of the things Mr Rosenberg is asking folks to do is to set aside their ideological differences – for now – to collaborate on strategy and building infrastructure. Judging from a lot of the questions, this and getting folks motivated in the first place are going to be two mighty tall orders.
But it seems like they’ve got a good shot at hacking it. They’re smart folks and they know a lot of smart folks, many of whom are on a very rapid learning curve with politics. But it’s going to take more than smarts. What Jen and I have both found from the couple of gates that we’ve already tried crashing is that it takes pretty much every ounce of your being, it takes whatever soul force (to use MLK & Gandhi’s term) you can muster. Humility, flexibility, nonattachment, inspiration, love – all of it.
It is, to borrow a favorite line of the President’s, a lot of hard work. It takes a long time. But this is the journey of democracy. Maybe the best question of the night was about all the people who think they are doing end-runs by trying to solve problems by spending their own money and bypassing government. Jen pointed out that the hard question these people have to be asking themselves is how that’s really working out for them. What’s the point of protecting thousands of acres of land with fantastic quantities of private money, for example, when with the stroke of a pen, a corrupt Congress can increase the pressure on thousands of endangered species overnight by even further deregulating the pesticide industry?
It’s the strong and slow boring of hard boards, all over again. But one of our jobs is to make it move faster. We can create a system of governance that utilizes 21st century technologies to respond to 21st century problems and opportunities. This is the project of a lifetime, the mother of all technology gigs. That’s the core of the New Politics Institute’s vision. Now all it needs is traction.