When You Can’t Win, Change The Game

Posted: April 1, 2011 by Adam Hodnett in #8 Wikileaks

His egomania is annoying. But I like this point.

I’m supporting transparency as a matter of principle. I truly believe that we can operate honestly. I may be naive, but I think we can be upfront about our intentions. I think trades can be mutually beneficial and trustworthiness can be the biggest key to success. And for those who disagree–I’m just happy Wikileaks has come in to the picture.

***

I hope that Wikileaks is a game changer. A slap in the face to those who thought they could make important public decisions in secret. I really do think the world would be a much better place if we had to be upfront about everything we did.

I understand that this is not how the world has run. I think our culture has deeply embedded concepts of hierarchy and leadership. I think people are nervous about the idea of an empowered average citizen. But I think only you can decide what’s best for yourself, and to deny the majority of the population something because a select group apparently knows better, opens up more issues than can ever be addressed. Isn’t this the premise of the democracy we idealize?

I think Wikileaks provides a much-needed service for a functional democracy. We need to know what’s going on if we can ever hope to make informed decisions. And I know everyone won’t take the time to educate themselves, but what can you do? They’re allowed to choose apathy. However, I do think a major source of apathy is a perceived inability to change anything.

I want access to everything our government is doing–it seems like a reasonable exchange for taxes. I want to tell friends about the things I don’t like, and I want to hear the same from them. I want mass disapproval to plague reputations, and that information to be at the top of a Google name search. A political career should be ruined with a basic understanding of search engine optimization and a well written, and well-sourced investigative article. And Wikileaks can provide those sources.

The only sympathy I have is for those who were trying to make due with what they had to work with–a “don’t hate the player, hate the game” sort-of-idea.

Again, I’m not an expert, but I’m pretty sure politics is an ugly game. I can imagine secrecy being key to getting things done. I can imagine deals and alliances, and valuable information that you count on being exclusive.  And I can imagine this new age of transparency painting someone in a much worse light than it should. But at the same time, I don’t really have that much sympathy for someone in trouble because we found out things they knew should be secret.

It’s all part of this unending evolution. The old will die to make room for the new. It may seem slow to us, but I think it’s actually amazingly quick.  Just think of the gap between the baby-boomers who still run everything right now, and our generation that will inevitably have to take control. There will be a day when politicians thrive in this open climate that Wikileaks and others are setting up.

I have a fantasy:

Think about Obama’s video blogs, and his twitter feed. Now expect that from every elected official ever, always, and to a more personal degree. It wouldn’t surprise me if this was easier and cheaper than traditional campaigning methods. Imagine we knew this person before election time. Imagine someone who always lived their life this way, and had their changing ideas completely documented. It seems crazy, but it almost sounds like a politician I could trust.

I think Wikileaks made a giant stride in this direction. I don’t consider it journalism, but I call it journalistic. It’s the source information, which we need to recognize as reputable. Just about every other story on DemocracyNow.org lately has been using Wikileaks to provide the context that we rely on journalists for.

Wikileaks is fighting a good fight, but they’re only one piece of the puzzle. We need experts to analyze the information and storytellers to put it all together. Wikileaks is an unbelievable resource, and I think Julian Assange’s paranoia was definitely justified. I think they’ve shifted the balance of power in ways that we still haven’t felt. And I really do think it will ultimately be for the better, even if complicates things a little right now.

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