Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Disruption 3.0 - #myvoteisnotforsale

When a new idea or concept enters a static industry or profession, it is said to be "disruptive".  This is typically viewed as a positive because, while there will be some hiccups along the road, in the end we'll all be better off for it.

We had the dotcom bubble 1.0 which despite all of it's problems left us with a new way to buy everything via Amazon.

We're in the middle of dotcom bubble 2.0 and while I think most of these companies will fade into the background over time, the emergence of social media is not going away.

I'd like to take a moment to discuss an industry which is absolutely ripe for disruption - the US political system.  I will use the current Congressional race in NY-21 as the template but this is an issue across the nation.

Background: Our current Congressman - Rep. Bill Owens (D) - announced that he was not running for re-election earlier this year.  This caused quite a stir as both parties scrambled to find candidates to place on the ballot.

Both parties are running candidates from outside of our district.  Okay, okay, I know you can argue they both "live" here but come on, we know they live in the North Country like I eat "healthy" :). However, the national and state parties believe that they are candidates who can raise lots of money and will vote the party line.  This is why the election process is ripe for disruption: your congressional representative is no longer seen by the national parties as representing you, but rather a permanent vote in their column on national issues.

There are enormous sums of money being spent to discourage you from voting one way or the other (very little of the advertising has focused on ideas).

But here's the secret that no one at the DNC or RNC wants you to know: They can spend millions and millions of dollars on ads to try and buy your vote, but if you won't sell doesn't matter! 

Every election in America has become a battle of who can raise the most and spend the most in an effort to buy your vote.  A critical piece of this equation though is you and your vote - you have to be an willing participant in this process for that model to work.  If you walk into your voting cube and check (R) or (D) just because they told you to, then they win and the "spend, spend, spend" model remains legitimate.

However,if we can get enough Americans to say "my vote is not for sale" they can spend every dime in their pocket and it won't matter because you won't sell to the highest bidder.

Okay, I can see you nodding along - Great you say, let's be the change!! What are the alternatives? Well, there are the third parties, but as my Mom said, if you don't have anything nice to say, it is better not to say anything at all.

Here's where it gets really radical: write-in.  I know, I know the concept of a write-in feels like throwing away your vote, but hear me out.  You aren't going to get the 50,000 - 75,000 people to back one write-in candidate at this point that would be necessary to win an election.  Since this is an off year, turnout could be low so I expect the winner of NY-21 will get somewhere around 80,000 votes.  Who knows, maybe in today's Facebook era you could pull this off, but it's unlikely.  

However, the margin of victory in NY-21 district is likely to be far less than 10,000 votes (more likely +/- 5,000).

If we can start a #myvoteisnotforsale movement online, I think it is possible to get 1,000 people to write-in a candidate other than the two chosen by the state and national parties.

A thousand votes in a tight congressional race would be a catalyst for a conversation about the future of politics and the influence of money in our political system.

So every time you post a comment on facebook or mention tweet out your dinner plans use the hashtag #myvoteisnotforsale #NY21 and let's stake our claim to the seat in Congress which claims to represent us, okay?

Perhaps you are happy with the candidates that the two major parties have put forth.  However, if you think there has to be a better way:

* Go to (many of you only get my emails and never visit the site) - click the "share this on Facebook" button up on the right hand side.

* Post something on your Facebook wall, twitter feed about this post and link to it (go to your browser bar, click copy, then paste it in your Facebook wall).

* I joined the borg so I could create a new FB page: My Vote is Not For Sale. Like the page.


* markets are wobbling back and forth with little sense of direction today, so far :)

Coming soon - Part 2 - Okay, you talked me into it now how do I write-in someone??

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