Friday, December 12, 2008

Tapscott on Obama and the Reinvention of Democracy

Don Tapscott: Obama and the Reinvention of Democracy
It's not just elections, but governing in America will never be the same. Consider an email I received recently, addressed to Don, from John -- that's John D. Podesta, Co-chair The Obama-Biden Transition Project. "Everyday, we meet with organizations that present ideas for the Transition and the incoming Obama-Biden Administration. In past transitions, meetings like this have been held behind closed doors. Not anymore. Today, every Obama-Biden Transition staff member received a memo outlining the 'Seat at the Table' Transparency Policy."

Up until now, the game of politics was played this way: You, the citizen, listen to speeches, debates, and television ads. You give money. You vote. But when it's time to govern, you are supposed to sit quietly while the real powers -- the politicians, their financial supporters, and the lobbyists -- make all the decisions in back rooms, often according to their own interests.

But citizens are beginning to want more. Especially the young people who have grown up digital -- the same kids who helped give President-elect Barack Obama his mandate -- they won't settle for the old rules, and Obama knows it.

He's mobilizing the millions of young people who supported his presidential campaign to help him as he prepares to govern a troubled country. It's an audacious move to change the act of governing, and he's taking a massive risk. If circumstances force Obama to renege on his promises, get ready for some spectacular clashes.

This appeal from Mr. Podesta was mailed not only to me but to to millions of Americans on Obama's email list. "The policy is pretty simple: the people and groups we're meeting with, the subjects of the meetings, and any documents shared in the meetings will now be made available on Most importantly, the American public can weigh in with comments or their own materials." Hey, he wants me on the transition team!

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