Saturday, November 06, 2004

Open Source Politics

My friends Matt and Stirling at BOPNews have always been talking to me about their idea: open source politics. The concept is to make a candidate and a party like people make software like Firefox or Linux- by sharing the source code and letting each person tweak in their area of expertise. Sounds good in practice I said, and just like Communism, it never works out that way. Poor Stirling tried his philosophy out on a hopeless candidate for the US House (his cousin Jim Newberry), and his own cousin took him to the cleaners.

But for the sake of argument, let's assume we can find an ethical candidate/party with a real chance to win (AKA the Democrats not the Greens or Libertarians). How would we even start? What would our message be, our platform be?

I have thought, and I haven't said it until now, that the Kerry campaign was too locked into the news cycle. They changed their weekly message based on what their NY Times/Wa Post clippings were saying. I think it left as Bush would say "mixed messages:" the good one that you read the news and care and have plans to solve the various problems that come up, the bad one is that you seem like an opportunist with no real platform to stand on other than "this guy is a terrible President and I wouldn't be."

So as Open Source Politikers, let's not get caught up in the daily goings on and focus on broad themes that are positive in nature (not the other guy is bad, but here's what I am going to do and more importantly WHY I want to do it).

I am offering this comment board, and if Matt or Stirling want, their more robust site, to flesh out the overall message, but let me get you all started...

I believe that with Rights comes Responsibility.

The constitution says we have the right to bear arms, and I support that, but with that right comes the responsibility to keep your guns away from children, out of the hands of criminals, and the responsibility to keep your fellow hunters and citizens safe.

I believe that a woman has the right to choose what to do with her body. It is a choice between herself and her God. But again, with that right comes the responsibily of deciding. Women should have half a year to decide if they want to keep the baby or not, and after that they have to stick with it, unless the health of the mother is endanger.

If you want to have the death penalty, you have the responsibility to make sure all those on death row deserve to be there.

If you want to get married (striaght or gay), you better mean it. And the same thing goes with divorce. If you are going to have children, you better take care of them. And if you don't, you better expect some serious consequences.

The same set of values follows for our economy. If businessmen want to make money, they better play by the rules and not cheat investors and their employees, unless they want to go to jail. If your company wants to do business with the government, it better not rip of the taxpayers, or else it will lose its contract and face serious fines. Television networks can broadcast whatever they want within the lines of equal time and decency. If they don't play by the rules, they lose their right to broadcast and/or face serious fines.

If you break it, you fix it. That philosophy works not only in the kindergarten classroom, but in Torts and Foreign Policy. If you are going to sell defective products, or behave wrecklessly, you better clean up your mess and say sorry. If you are going to invade countries, you better restore stability and security to the region.

Too often in our society, we want someone else to take the blame or the chore of cleaning up our mistakes, whether it be the guy nextdoor or the federal government, the buck stops with all of us.

As Americans, we are all in this together. When the economy suffers because of one man's greed, we all suffer. When one woman's discovery leads to cures, we all gain. We are the inheritors of the flame of American freedom, willpower, and ingenuity of over two centuries. Be yours to hold it high. Don't let the winds of doubt or the rains of troubled times extinguish the fire within. I know I won't.

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