Indictment on Modern Day Conservatism

I’m not usually one to write about politics, but that might change in the coming days and months. At least here on this blog where I don’t have to worry about sticking within the confines of business and technology.

The last week has been exciting. The first African American from a major political party to receive his party nomination for President of the United States. Compounded was that yesterday was the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther Kings “I Have a Dream” speech.

It couldn’t have been planned any better.

Today, Sen. John McCain announced that he was upsetting the apple cart by picking Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to be his vice presidential running mate. Yes, only the second woman to fill the VP running mate role.

This pick deserves a post of its own. What is the “woman vote”? Can women be pigeon holed into a singular mindset? Some women might want to claim that the issues women care about are the issues that all women care about. But really, women are just like men in that there are hundreds of different sub-sets.

Regardless, it’s a different issue for a different post.

I want to talk about conservatism, because the word has been so ruined and drug through the mud by modern day conservatism.

Conservatism can be wrapped up in one word: Individuals.

Individuals are the most valuable asset of a conservative society. Individuals can make choices, decisions and reap the individual consequences. Individuals are protected from a narcissistic government, predatory corporations and rabid special interests.

Conservatism expects that western influence will not be forced on non-western cultures, and values the identity of cultural and social choice. It’s all about individuals and government should not infringe on that.

Conservatism believes that there is no better example for children than parents and that no one should insert themselves in a healthy parent-child relationship.

True conservatism believes that above all else, the Constitution is the guiding law of this land and that the balance of power exists to protect the people from the government.

Reality says that the above description describes modern day liberalism pretty well. It does not describe modern day conservatism.

Modern day conservatism insists that National Security trumps individual protections and rights. Modern day conservatism insists that in order to protect Americans at home, that we must proactively intervene in other parts of the world. Modern day conservatism says that to protect American influence in the world at a point where American influence has plateaued or even declined, we must aggressively re-assert that influence.

Modern day conservatism protects the military-industrial complex and large corporations in the name of blind and unfettered capitalism.

When I declare proudly and loudly that I am a conservative, I am holding on to the classical conservative ideals, and not to modern day conservatism which is no better than a wolf in sheep clothing.

And to Christians who blindly follow the modern day Republican party, I’d encourage you to take a step back and determine if the party and their actions accurately reflect the call of Scripture. Remember the prophecy of to Israel where, among other indictments, Amos says:

You hate the one who reproves in court and despise him who tells the truth.

You trample on the poor and force him to give you grain. Therefore, though you have built stone mansions, you will not live in them; though you have planted lush vineyards, you will not drink their wine. For I know how many are your offenses and how great your sins. You oppress the righteous and take bribes and you deprive the poor of justice in the courts.

Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts. Perhaps the LORD God Almighty will have mercy on the remnant of Joseph.

Will I See you in Boston? Or in San Francisco? Or in Boulder? Or in Vegas?

Just a quick note as I’m getting ready for a meetup in my honor tonight in Boston. If you’re in the Boston area and don’t have any plans for tonight, would love to see you at Boston Beer Works across from Fenway Park. Michelle Wolverton gets all the credit for organizing and pulling the event together on my last night here in Boston (Yes, I did enjoy my first game at Fenway Park the Chapel of Awesomeness, last night!)

San Francisco

Tomorrow morning, I head out to San Francisco for WordCamp 2008. This will be my third trip to the Bay Area for this very special event and I’ll be speaking for the second time (third if you include WordCamp Dallas earlier this year). WordCamp is an exciting event for bloggers, particularly WordPress bloggers. It gives an opportunity for folks to come together and get their geek on with technical WordPress know-how or enjoy the community with other sessions geared toward more generalized topics.

For my part, I’ll be attending on behalf of Lijit along with Micah Baldwin, but will also be speaking on Findability and getting information in front of readers while driving them deeper into the site. I’ll release my slide deck in Creative Commons format after the event so look for it next week.

Mile High, Colliding with the DNC

Though I don’t anticipate participating in the DNC, I will be heading to the Rockies (Boulder to be exact) to work at Lijit World Headquarters. It will be crazy with 50k people coming in to see our next president accept his nomination and all the festivities that are involved. Someone told me there were 400 parties scheduled for the DNC which makes me think that perhaps the political catch-phrase shouldn’t be “Yes We Can” and more “1 Party, 400 parties”. DNC marketing executives have not returned comment on this idea. ;-)

What’s Happening in Vegas Needs to get On Your Calendar

Finally, next month I’ll be in Las Vegas for the annual Blog World Expo. This was one of three events I planned at the beginning of the year to be at. I attended SXSW, but will miss Gnomedex so two out of three isn’t bad.

I was talking to Rick Calvert, the organizer, and he mentioned that August 22 is the absolute drop-dead date for early registration and prices will go up significantly after that. So get registered!

On a related note, I’m looking for a hotel room to crash on the night of the 22nd. Due to Dividend Miles award travel, I ended up extending my stay a day later than most people go home. So if you’re still around Vegas for that night, give me a shout. I am open to splitting a room.

Either that or the fine folks at Southwest or JetBlue, both of whom are doing a fine job in reaching out to the social media community, can comp me a ticket. ;)

So, if our worlds might collide at one of these events, please give me a shout or look me up. My phone number is 410-608-6620.

Relevant Conservatism in the Internet Era

As a conservative who is also supporting Barack Obama (Yes We Can) this fall, I’m fascinated watching the efforts both campaigns are making to reach out to an internet savvy Generation Y. With mixed results, mind you.

John McCain has been flogged for his gaffes surrounding the internet. Phrases likes, “I’m aware of the internet” are not gaining any points in the arena of internet geek public opinion. It is clear that Barack Obama is winning this critical demographic of 18-35 year olds with a grass roots campaign that encourages small several dollar donations from average web users and that the McCain campaign is desperate to appear relevant in their online outreach efforts.

However, it is not just McCain’s campaign. The Republican National Committee is going to its own great lengths to produce the appearance of relevancy in a hostile internet environment that is largely committed to the Democratic base.

Such was the effort of the RNC’s latest viral marketing campaign directed toward the Facebook generation. BarackBook is a spoof on the popular Facebook site and includes videos, a “MyFriends” section highlighting several “friends” of Obama involved in organized crime, political corruption and the often antagonized capitalistic market. The “news feed” uses typical Facebook prose to highlight these friends activities, “Barack Obama and Antoin “Tony” Rezko are now friends with Allison Davis“.

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The problem is as it always is. This marketing attempt is leveraged toward a demographic that does not believe what the Republicans have to say. They’ve feel like they have been lied to for at least 8 years and maybe 15 if you go back to 1994 when the Republicans took over Congress.

Obama’s appeal comes from a desire for change. Techies are already disillusioned by the current administration. By throwing in real and relevant issues to the technology community, such as Ted Stevens “false statements” charges, the cost of energy, the inability to secure H1B Visas for foreign engineers (many who are more brilliant than American engineers), the high cost of energy needed to power massive server farms that keep us online, a “too-little, too-late” government involvement in the mortgage scandal that is forcing people out of work and creating a shortage of job opportunities in the tech space as well as the weak dollar that makes it difficult for American internet companies to do international internet business has created an environment where the internet technology world is hostile toward GOP, laissez-faire, status quo policies.

Republican efforts to appeal to a technology audience are encouraged, but should not be expected to change sentiment overnight. A return to traditional conservative roots where opportunities are provided for the willing and able, government removing themselves as much as possible from the lives of the citizens, and barriers to technology innovation lowered (tax incentives for innovation) would play well over time with the technology crowd. Participation in the internet space on blogs (with comments enabled and dialogue in play) on social networks like Facebook (not just hands off Facebook groups) would go a long way.

I’m not a Republican. I left the Republican party several years ago as it became clear the party left me. I am a conservative and see a real need for real change. I mean, throw out everything we know and rebuild kind of change. The kind of change that keeps conservatism relevant in 2008 and going into the next decade.

Michelle Obama Writing For BlogHer

Seems appropriate that this week is taking the shape of BlogHer week, since the gathering of women bloggers descends on San Francisco in 3… 2… 1…. NOW.

The big news this morning, of course, a day before the BlogHer conference kicks off, is that Michelle Obama has contributed her first article to the BlogHer.com. Entitled, “Let’s Talk”, is commentary on raising the Obama girls, and life on the campaign trail as a mother. It’s actually rather endearing.

However, I’m disappointed by the “stumping” nature of the post. If there is one thing I like about reading blogs instead of the paper is that the readers are able to escape the dry journalistic reporting style and find personality. While Mrs. Obama’s first post certainly carries personality, it borders a bit on frustrating for people who are tired of politics as usual.

At the risk of infuriating Obama supporters, lines like this remind me of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

I’ve heard from mothers struggling to make ends meet because their salaries aren’t keeping up with the cost of groceries. But if they take a second job, they can’t afford the additional cost of childcare. Or the moms who are nervous about taking time from their jobs to care for a sick child. Or the moms-to-be who are scared of getting fired if the boss finds out they’re pregnant.

Still, though, this carries on the theme that we’ve been covering at Technosailor regarding the transparency of government and the use of the web. I’m encouraged to see the Obama campaign willing to engage Michelle with the massive women voting block. I’d like to see Cindy McCain offered (and take) the same kind of deal so the appearance of rubber-stamping a president doesn’t come into question.

High Risk, High Yield in Politics

This morning, I was a guest on the Media Bullseye podcast. I’ll link it when it becomes available. One of the topics of discussion revolved around the tactics (not the politics) being employed by the candidates in the Presidential race.

The analogy I drew was investment in the stock market. You can invest in high risk, high yield stocks and make a killing or get hung out to dry. I remember a few years ago, around the time I started blogging actually, I worked with a gentleman who made it a hobby to invest in penny stocks. He invested in Sirius Satellite Radio (SIRI) at approximately $4/share and scarfed up 1000 shares. One day, not long after his investment, the stock price dropped to just over $2 and he was down half his money if he would have gotten out at that time. Within a few weeks, the stock soared to an all-time high of $7.95 and he cashed out on a short term investment and doubled his money.

Investment doesn’t always work like that and sometimes causes investors to drink heavily (ok, anyone who knows investors know they drink heavily anyway!). Some people take a more conservative, yet reliable approach to investment that involves in stable stocks that, over time, will almost always return a profit if you’re patient.

What we see in this presidential election are two approaches to “getting a message out”. On one side, you have McCain’s campaign running a largely traditional political campaign. Sure, they are embracing some bloggers, but largely the GOP machine (which is actually a historically highly efficient machine) is running a tried-and-true campaign, engaging the media, putting out press releases, accepting high dollar donations, etc. Low risk, yet will inevitably be effective as it’s tested and Republicans are very good at it.

On the flip side, the younger, more internet-savvy Obama campaign is running a guerilla campaign based largely in small, recurring donations en masse, the use of social media tools and engaging an army of Generation Y new media enthusiasts who put out compelling, and sometimes viral content. Take this video for instance (which I will avoid the discussion of the politics around – just to note that it is viral and effective in reaching the masses with over 280k views in just the past two days since publishing).

The problem here is that this is a high-risk move. Social media is so new that no one yet has it figured out. Jeremiah Owyang thinks companies should be using FriendFeed to do social media press releases but pitches this idea as an early adopter. We’re all early adopters. Social media is in the age of early adoption and though there is a lot of attention to blogs, YouTube and all the other social services, it is unclear what the actual tangible results will be. No one knows and though it looks promising now, the landscape is changing so fast that, come November, the use of social media and small donation policy could have a backlash effect on the Obama campaign.

It’s a high risk, high yield investment.

By the way, we also talked about the FriendFeed thing on this morning’s podcast.

Update: The Media Bullseye Podcast I was on this morning. Thanks Sarah and Jen for having me!