Clothes, but Emperor questionable

After the past two+ years of chaos and horror, witnessing the dramatic regression of our governance, social fabric and heck global climate, in real-time, Pete Buttigieg was a breath of fresh air: an oxygen of intellectual, reasoned, unflappable calm after months of I think it’s safe to say, the polar opposite.

And please: he taught himself Norwegian.

Then sometime back in April I saw this…

But then I got this:

Obviously I was in for a Friday night at only $25. So I get there, and look around, and realize, well….

…and what I shared what I saw with my friend, he (chat) replied, “Ofc. He is an urban elite dream.”

And off we went. Already-iconic Chasten (Buttigieg’s husband) opened with smoothly-delivered endearing, self-aware stories. Which proved a natural segue to Buttigieg himself. He got off to a less-than-perfect start when, perhaps forgetting he was no longer in Indiana, he crescendo-ed up to “no, no…neither party has a claim on …. GOD.” This of course, was not met with thunderous applause, but rather, an enormously pregnant silence. San Franciscans, godless people we are, dgaf about God.

He soon recovered, eloquently laying out a calm, reasoned approach on social issues like marriage, immigration but at a level that didn’t leave much to disagree with (certainly, among this crowd). Perhaps I was among the few if any among the crowd that was still in shopping vs. buying mode, but I was left wanting to hear what the tangible platform was, beyond a Constitutional Amendment addressing political campaign funding (not a new idea, but at least, concrete).

And I was left frustrated at his own responses to “why him” beyond the fact that he is young (which has its pros and cons, can we admit?), gay, and a vet. I did find his midwestern provenance as a differentiator almost compelling but account part of that to the fact that I hail from there myself (Motown forever).

Don’t get me wrong. I stand by what I shared with my family: “For as brilliant as he is, he’s not compelling as a candidate. At all. He himself has substance, but he doesn’t have deep experience or a well-thought-out platform.” He’s certainly thought deeply through social issues (this is one of his big draws). Just not the presidential-level ones.

I guess I’m leaving it with him here. Onward.

The Inputs are Broken

The first time I got directly involved in a political campaign (in my adult life) was in 2007, and frankly, it was because I was terrified. That someone of this caliber could be one proverbial heartbeat away from the Presidency (which, at the time, was a pretty prestigious thing, but I digress) lit such a tremendous fire under me. I cold-called on the curbs of SF before they were so prohibitively unsanitary to permit such politicking.

I continued to help campaigns at both the federal and local (more on that soon) levels. My most recent round of service culminated this year, along with my fears: in the age of Trump, I immediately connected with SwingLeft‘s very focused and strategic goal of taking back the House.

Thankfully my work paid off: we at last have a shard of accountability back at the Federal level, and one of the first pieces being advanced by the now-Democratic House (strongly and ably led by Nancy Pelosi) is HR1. Also marketed by the Dems as #ForThePeople / #ForThePeopleAct, the legislation’s overall theme is to put the hands of government back into the hands of people vs. those of special interests, through more transparent and representative funding and reduced barriers to voting. It makes my civic heart proud.

But then I got this note….

Wait a minute. I remember this person from a local campaign I’d worked on – he’d been an organizer and I’d co-hosted an event and helped with a few others.

What in the heck is an Assembly Delegate?

Nobody around me seems to know. I’m talking educated people. People who vote. Do you know? Nobody I seem to ask knows.

So I got interested. After all this work I’d done to open up our politics, it seemed odd that other elections were happening that I knew nothing about. I never heard about it from the Democratic Party. No mailers. No vote by mail. And this election was going to happen on a Saturday, during two hours, at a community center which happens to be down the street from me. That was the only option to participate (if you happened to know about it)

Fortunately, a branch of the Democratic party did some work to make this clear. But this wasn’t the “mainstream” Democratic party, if you will. This was made by some indie-rebel types within the party. And I only found this because I knew about the election: as a former campaign volunteer, I guess I’m “an insider.”

That’s me, along with others who had an inside angle into where to go that Saturday

Because I happen to live about 3 blocks from the voting location and had few obligations the day of voting, I was fortunate enough to tough this murky, inaccessible process out. I braved the lines among various special interest groups that were marketed in from corners of the City to “align” the ballots to the slates with access to the most campaign funds. You can imagine how a non-establishment party slate may play out in this scenario (do watch the video).

This didn’t feel democratic to me. After all the work I’d done to elect a Congress to push forward legislation to open up our Democracy, I realized that a Democracy is only as good as its inputs. When the candidates and their agendas are pre-determined by those in power already, the inputs are broken.

I want Nancy’s vision of a Democracy for the People to extend to its inputs

The Future (of Work) is Distributed

I had the pleasure of attending the NewCo Shift Forum last month in San Francisco. I’m already a huge fan of John Battelle’s thinking, so attending this was a treat. It, like his writing, aligns my passion for technology, innovation, the future of work and social change — all which feel extraordinarily significant given our current climate of a consolidating technology industry and an extremist political environment.

The icing on the cake was moderating a lunch table of attendees interested in sharing  best practices for distributed workforces. We had folks ranging from companies as large as Dell to as small as Sched, products to professional services, all sharing their experiences with coworkers across geographies and time zones.

You can read my 2-minute summary of our discussion I read onstage here (scroll all the way down :).

Me “backstage” so to speak, taking them up on an offer to chat a bit more given the time constraints onstage. Alas the recording didn’t happen, but this great shot for my mom did.