One of you writes:
I have an almost non-existent history of writing to politicians, but I’ve reversed that, largely for the reasons articulated so well in the letter that you posted from Jon Hull to Senator Susan Collins.
I have written recently, and on more than one occasion in some cases, to Senator Collins, Senator Corker, Senator Flake, Senator McCain, Senator Shelby, Senator Murkowski, and others who have shown an interest, however small or fleeting, in putting the interests of the country above politics and partisanship. The glimmers of independence that I have occasionally witnessed from these politicians have come to naught, to my great regret.
(By way of background, my four grandparents were immigrants and neither of my parents went to college. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to be among the One Percent. I would like to think that even if I didn’t have the liberal upbringing and education that I did, I would still recognize the existential threat to the ideals on which this nation was founded and prospered.)
I am writing to ask how to deal with and perhaps reverse the direction that the country seems to be headed.
I have supported financially candidates in whom I have confidence, but that is just a partial answer.
“Indeed,” I replied.
Money to candidates — though necessary, and I give it, too — is not nearly as leveraged as money invested in the infrastructure on which all Democratic candidates and state parties rely.
Money to candidates mainly gets warehoused for TV in the fall, inspiring few to register to vote, or to turn out. (If anything, all those TV ads turn people off, not out.)
But if Tom Perez’s newly revitalized DNC has the resources to help effectuate really good registration and turn-out (via neighbor-to-neighbor organizing, basically), once a voter arrives at the polls, she votes not just for the Democratic Congressperson whose TV ads she may or may not have seen, but also for the Senator, the state legislators, school board — Democrats “up and down the ticket.” This is how we could have a very good 2018.
“So in case the email that follows inspires you,” I wrote, “I’d ask for 33 basis points of your net worth — a third of one percent.” For two reasons:
a) If you can grow your fortune at 4% a year, it will be replenished in 30 days. Years from now, you’ll surely not miss those 33 basis points — but feel great you helped in such a big way, because . . .
b) After 10,000 human generations of struggling and shivering and suffering and itching and starving and striving, we find ourselves at the crucial moment. The next 10 or 20 years will determine whether, as a species, we live happily ever after, in comfort the first 9,990 generations could scarcely have imagined (flying across oceans watching a movie, sipping wine) . . . or hurtle off the rails toward eventual extinction.
In that context, 33 basis points seems heroic but not inappropriate.
And then I forwarded an email I’d just sent a large donor:
In my 18 years at the DNC, there were many very fine staffers, no superstars.
Why would a superstar want to work at the DNC?
They’d want to work at the White House or for “the Campaign” or at Google.
Well, November 8 was such a shock, it inspired a superstar to come work for us.
Raffi Krikorian lead global infrastructure for Twitter, with 550 folks reporting to him. He knows something about social media and cybersecurity.
He then led Uber’s team that successfully brought the self-driving car to Pittsburgh.
Now he is +our+ CTO.
I emailed Megan Smith last summer when I heard, to ask her the real story. Megan was named CTO of the United States by Barack Obama. She has never been the least bit shy about criticizing the DNC (in private, constructively). I knew that if she knew Raffi, she’d give me a candid assessment.
Minutes later she replied: “He is beyond extraordinary – the DNC should be over the moon.” Kudos to Chairman Perez for orchestrating this, she said.
Basically, we now have a superstar running our tech shop . . . from which all organizing and fundraising and social media – and cybersecurity – flow.
And superstars attract OTHER superstars. Raffi’s opened a storefront in Silicon Valley and another in Brooklyn for brilliant young people who don’t want to move to DC.
My analogy is the health care roll-out. Scores of bright, well-meaning people worked a long time to build the healthcare.gov website.
Obama’s presidency depended on it, not to mention the health of millions of people.
And it was a disaster.
And then (in my mind; I don’t know the literal details) three superstars flew in from Silicon Valley on their private jets, stayed up for three weeks straight, and just FIXED the damn thing. That’s what superstars do.
Well, now WE have a superstar — and some junior superstars following him.
It doesn’t guarantee success in 2018, but sure makes me hopeful. I think Raffi’s efforts are hugely worth funding and fueling.
Join me in betting on this? Are you liquid these days? Enough to do something that rises to the occasion?
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I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it.~Groucho Marx
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