November 10, 2008 · Lessig
A Change Congress supporter writes:
“I am a supporter of your Change Congress movement and have followed your work for a long time. I am also an Obama supporter. I am writing to urge you to share your thoughts with your blog readers about what an Obama administration might entail for the Change Congress movement, and whether you think Obama is committed to government reform….”
Great question. I think many of us are so used to disappointment, we’re looking for it, and so not even a week after that extraordinary night, many are beginning to wonder what “change” here will really mean?
But I think we need a certain kind of understanding, or patience here. Imagine, by analogy, a loved one has cancer. She decides to get chemo-therapy to deal with the cancer. But on the way to the hospital, imagine she gets hit with a bullet from a drive-by shooting. (Dark, ok, but you’ll see the meaning here in a second). Now an ambulance comes and races this gun-shot victim with cancer to the emergency room.
This sad story is a picture of us just now. The “change Washington” rhetoric of this campaign is the analog to the cancer. The financial collapse is the analog of the shooting. And just as with the cancer patient, the collapse is an urgent, immediate problem that must be solved before the more fundamental, long term problem can be addressed.
This means we have to be a bit patient before the more fundamental issue gets addressed. Not that one shouldn’t be critical of decisions that will make it more difficult to cure the cancer. But that the lack of an immediate push on that problem is not inconsistent with the design to cure it.
I only hope they recognize that as with the gun-shot, cancer victim, there needs to be essentially two teams thinking about these two different kinds of problems. One focusing immediately on stabilizing the patient. The second on how the stable patient can be treated for the cancer. The skills of the former team are not necessarily the skills of the latter. And if Obama is to be the transformational president he can be, building a strategy around that transformation will be essential.
Update: A good sign: Podesta:
“I’ve heard the complaint [that] we’re leaving all this expertise on the side, because we’re leaving all the people who know everything out in the cold. And so be it. This is a commitment that the American public expects, and it’s one that we intend to enforce during the transition.”