I have attended three local political events in the past ten days. That is three more than I attended all of last year. But, as the flurry of activity died down on the national campaign cycles, where big money and SuperPACs actually were the ones with impact, the momentum has started picking up for some big local elections this fall. As I listened to candidates and representatives from campaigns, one thing became clear: an understanding that technology is important is no longer enough, first hand knowledge and personal examples of using technology for the benefit of their constituents is the new standard.
This truth was on display at the Start Up City Conference hosted by Manhattan Borough President, Scott Stringer. Starting the day with a Keynote by the “Godfather of the NYC Start-Up Scene,” Fred Wilson, the day brought a well rounded look into the ways that the city of New York is thinking about the growing digital industry as well as shed light on how far the Big Apple is behind other smaller cities in terms of connectivity and infrastructure. Some of the harshest words toward that end came from Andrew Rasiej as he called out Chattanooga, TN for having internet “20 times faster than New York.” As the Chairman of the 32,000 member New York TechMeetUp, Rasiej and their community have laid out their top seven policy initiatives.
The conference wrapped up with a panel of almost all of the candidates for New York Mayor and was moderated by Buzzfeed’s Ben Smith. Mr. Smith started off the panel with the only question that seemed to really matter to the technorati in the audience, “What kind of phone do you use personally and what is your favorite app?” 100% of the candidates answered that they used a Blackberry personally and only half of them could name their favorite app. The other half resembled Sarah Palin when Katie Couric asked he about her reading habits: “Oh yes, apps, I use a lot of them. I couldn’t name one specifically that I like because I just seem to like them all.” The candidates that could name an app were split between MLB and Pandora as their favorite app. And while you can’t judge a person by their apps, but is was a huge miss to not show some competence in using the technology that is free and readily available to make their own lives better as their example of a favorite app. And made an even bigger miss when they could have given a shout out to some of the fantastic companies making that technology right here in NYC. These response to the question drew me back to another event that I attended earlier in the week.
“We need leaders that know and that use tech” was the opening statement from Twitter and Square’s Jack Dorsey as he endorsed and introduced Reshma Saujani for New York’s Public Advocate at her rally last week. The packed room erupted in cheers as when taking the stage Ms. Saujani told the crowd that “we don’t need another politician, we need a change agent.” She went on to lay out her personal experience in the world of digital and technology and pointed to her experiences founding girls who code. Running an incredible digital savvy campaign, Ms. Saujani is the first of what I hope to be many more technology entrepreneurs who make the cross over to involvement in public service. As the digital community digs deeper and brings more value to every area of our lives, we need leaders in every level of government who understand, and are not afraid, of technology.
The final event that I attended was for Michelle Wu, a candidate for the City Council in Boston. In the back of a fantastic restaurant on the Upper West Side, Jacob’s Pickles, current and former residents of Boston gathered to hear an update on their city given its recent tragedy, but also to hear Ms. Wu’s vision for the future. As a recent graduate of Harvard’s Law School and an alumnus of Elizabeth Warren’s successful bid for the US Senate, there were more than just loft ideas share, but comprehensive plans for action. “True change happens locally when people, when neighbors, come together for the good of their community.”
I am fascinated by politics. Perhaps even more so as I recently went on a West Wing to Scandal to House of Cards political entertainment binge fest. But also because, much to the dismay or my Libertarian leanings, government is going to be a part of just about every meaningful initiative that I undertake going forward. Whether building companies, launching nonprofits, structuring my will and estate plan, or just saving for retirement, there are rules and regulations to be understood. And having the right people with a seat at the table for those conversations and future reforms is most definitely in all of our best interest.Tweet
A lot of people don’t know this, but I have been in a relationship with another man since 2007. Both of us being adults, made this legally binding decision freely and with confidence because it was right for us. There have been ups and downs, but, like all relationships, we have found ways to work through it and move on. Our ability to do what is in each other’s best interest and build something awesome together was in no way impeded by the fact that we are both men.
Before we entered into this relationship, we talked through what would happen if one of us were to pass away, become disabled, or want to leave the relationship at some point in the future. We knew what we were getting ourselves into and the government said it was okay by them.
Amazingly, our contract to enter into this relationship wasn’t protested because we were both men. When we finished filing our documents, no one else felt like we were encroaching on their relationship or keeping them from having a fulfilling lifelong relationship as a result. Our all male relationship didn’t keep anyone who was in a man and woman relationship from living out that choice for them. When it was all said and done, the LLC that me my business partner formed didn’t affect ANYONE but us.
And, while forming an LLC is a much less emotionally charged issue than that of legally recognized marriage, there are some stark and clear parallels that I can’t help but think about today. When two adults decide that they want to enter into a lifelong relationship, who should be able to stop them? The government sees no reason to not let me and my male business partner be committed to each other for life because our gender, age, and race make no difference in our ability to make that decision for ourselves.
On an even more personal note, Annie and I are in love. And have been for almost ten years. We’ve chosen to build our lives together, are committed to each other, and don’t need anyone to tell us that our love isn’t as real as theirs because we don’t have a marriage certificate. But, when the day comes and we decide that we want to sign that legal document, I can’t even imagine what I would do if people who don’t know us told us we couldn’t because they didn’t like that we were in love. Our love doesn’t affect them and has nothing to do with theirs.
Love is a choice between two people. Not the church. Not the government. Love is not something to be regulated or allowed. Love is far bigger than any definition we can put on it.
“Love is only a word until we decide to let it possess us with all its force. Love is only a word until someone arrives to give it meaning.” – Paulo CoelhoTweet
I asked myself the other day if it was too early to be thinking about the 2016 election due to my continued boredom with this year’s election. I decided that it wasn’t since that is what all the most qualified politicians did this year instead of run against Obama or throw their hat into the three ring circus that the Republican Primary was.
But, the one person that did throw his hat into the ring, that I immediately resonated with was Jon Huntsman. In the primaries and the debates he presented himself as the closed option to my political leanings in his practical approach to the challenges our country faces. My respect for him grow even more when he bowed out after New Hampshire. He knew he’d gotten his name out there enough to be able to come back in 2016 with some swagger.
While America watches the craziness that is the Obama/Romney slugfest for the +/- 10% of the voting electorate that haven’t decided who they’re going to vote for, Huntsman has continued to share his thoughts and vision for America. In an appearance at the Aspen Institute, he dives into the three deficits that must be addressed in order for our nation to move forward.
1) Economic: Our national debt is a national security problem.
2) Trust: No one trust our government to act in the best interest of the country. (9% approval rating for Congress)
3) Confidence: There aren’t ideas been put forward or actions being taken by either party to install confidence that our country is headed in the right direction.
These three idea must be wrapped in the truth that has been forgotten: We are Americans first and foremost before we are Democrats or Republicans or Independence.
“We’ve forgotten how to come together as Americans, we don’t know how to do that anymore. We’ve forgotten waht it means to put our nation first. Sure, well disagree along the pathway towards an outcome. But, lost in this current conversation is any civility, any respect, and any shred of history of how our parties have benefitted our country in the past by having an open dialogue that puts our nation first.”
Watch the holy conversation here:
Romney vs. Obama is the most boring, and frankly pointless, election in the history of America. If the political spectrum from crazy insane conservative to big government socialism were charted out on a scale of 1-100, Obama would be a 55 and Romney would be a 45. Neither one capable of making a big decision outside of the mind numbingly boring 46-54 notches. Whoever gets elected is not going to get anything done because that is what our government is really good at, getting nothing done.
But, while I still believe that to be true, Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as his Vice Presidential candidate at least piques my interest in seeing how the debates play out. Ryan is a darling for fiscal conservatives and, unlike Romney, actually seems to have some ideas of his own that he stands on. He is young, not boring, and bears a striking resemblance to Matthew Morrison. In the same way that Obama is going to wipe the floor with Romney in the debates, Ryan will destroy Biden.
Which leads me to my now two year in the making conspiracy theory: Obama dumps Biden in the next three weeks and announces Hillary Clinton as his Vice Presidential running mate for this election. Think back to June of 2008. Clinton was by no means out of the race and was still polling pretty well against Obama for the nomination. But, without much fanfare, she drops out of the race and endorses our now President. Since then, she has been appointed Secretary of State and former President Clinton has been on his absolute best behavior. I like to think that in May of 2008, Obama’s people sat down with Hillary’s people and hammered out the deal that they’d trade her the SOS position plus the Veep for 2012 in exchange for her support in 2008 and Bill keeping his nose clean.
Romney/Ryan vs. Obama/Clinton. I can get (slightly more) excited about that.Tweet
Yesterday, Representative Weiner of New York got on stage to apologize for being an idiot. And, despite the insane number of jokes that his last name and this situation lend themselves to, the thing that got me going was the sensational coverage by the entirety of the American press.
People are idiots and do stupid things. People make mistakes. People get caught. People in the public eye, for whatever reason, think it won’t happen to them. But it does. And then, for the next 3 days, every nightly talk show and front page headline dives into “how the story happen” and an in depth look at the way the events unfolded.
DEAR AMERICA: GROW A PAIR AND QUIT GIVING A RIP.
Surely there’s much more interesting things than the latest drama of torrid affairs between ugly chicks and politicians. Surely you have something better to do with your day than care that someone got a Twitter DM and @Reply mixed up. There is nothing interesting here unless your life is only lived vicariously through the exploits of others and this is the latest escape from the routine known as your day to day.
Between Weiner, Edwards, and Schwarzenegger, my ability to care is at an all time low. Just wait three days until this Weiner story goes flaccid (I had to get one in there!) and there will be another one with a tearful apology at a podium with a blue curtain behind it.
But in the meantime, go live a life that doesn’t allow you the time to give a flying flip about this crap.
GROW A PAIR. Be the headlines that matter in your life.Tweet