The ‘Team of Rivals’ road trip: =>

Executive summary

If you were in the finals of the Ideas for Change competition and have (or know of) an equivalent idea in the Citizens Briefing Book on, please leave a link in the comments — and look for opportunities to co-promote with other compatible ideas.  Also please leave other suggestions for how we might work together moving forward.

Media note

Wow!  Less than 24 hours since the competition ended and the competitors are already collaboratively building on it to influence government policy via’s similar system!  It’s almost like they’ve been practicing — and building a coalition!


Here’s how it works. With a account, you can suggest an idea on any topic, or award or deduct 10 points (Why 10 rather than 1 or 100? Dunno) from existing ideas you favor or disfavor. The top rated ideas, said senior Obama aide Valerie Jarrett in a video introducing the project, will be compiled into a briefing book to be given to Barack Obama once he takes office. Citizens’ Briefing Book joins Open for Questions and Join the Discussion in the growing list of ways the Obama transition is attempting to tap into the national zeitgeist. One place it differs from Open for Questions, however, is that it allows for linking to individual ideas, making it easier for activists to rally support for their contributions.

— Nancy Scola, in’s Latest: Citizen’s Briefing Book, techPresident.  bold red italics added by me.

For me the best thing about’s Ideas for Change in America was the chance to interact with the supporters of other ideas.  As I’ve said a few times, there were plenty of great ideas and they were advocated very effectively.  In Neocons’ worst nightmare: net movements intersecting I wrote about the synergies between undocumented students, LGBTQ activists, peace activists, civil libertarians (hiiiiii!), and people demanding Bush Administration accountability.  At least from my perspective, these connections got much stronger during the last 48 hours.of the competition.

One thing to highlight here is that these groups really were rivals in Ideas for Change.  It was pretty clear that there weren’t going to be enough top 10 slots to go around, even after drug reform advocates unexpected and generous decision not to bogart the leaderboard opened up another space.  All of us were “on the bubble” at some points.  Still we shared information and often even promoted each others’ ideas.  And overall it worked out pretty darn well, although alas not all the ideas made it to the top 10.

So Ike A’s suggestion on my wall that Get FISA Right members and DREAM Activists might want to team up again on the is an excellent one.  Simply by highlighting the link to each others’ Citizens Briefing Book ideas (ours, theirs) we can make it much easier for supporters of both ideas to find out about both of them. We can look for opportunities for joint publicity, and collaborate on promoting our ideas.  We can also share techniques: what’s the best way to use the comments on  When’s a good time for a digging campaign?  And so on …

Count me in!*

But why stop there?

The DREAM Act is something that I’m very passionate about, so I’ll certainly prioritize working with them.  But it’s important to note that a lot of these opportunities would exist even if that weren’t the case.  Take for example Save Small Businesses from the CPSIA, which finished in a virtual tie with my idea on  This isn’t one of my hot button issues, but theirs certainly seems like a perspective that the Obama Administration needs to see and hasn’t gotten a lot of attention in the mainstream media.  So I’m more than happy to vote for them on … and I suspect a lot, although by no means all, of the people I know will view things the same way.

Conversely the vast majority of small business owners and employees, like the vast majority of Americans, are against unchecked government surveillance and for the Constitution and the rule of law.   So if I can get our link to them, we’ll likely pick up a lot of votes.  Plus based on their 474 (!) endorsements on there’s a lot I can learn from them.  It’s a classic win/win situation.

And if you think about it, the same goes for most pairs of ideas in the finals: there are almost always synergies for co-promoting them.  Of course there’ll be some situations where the ideas really are incompatible, or the personalities or styles clash too badly for collaboration to be effective, but those will probably be relatively rare.

So let’s take a first step by assembling a list of links to our ideas on — or equivalent ideas if somebody else has submitted them.  For now, let’s accumulate them in the comments.  (See my first one for an example.)

We will also want to find ways to make it easier to communicate with each other, and if you have any suggestions please put those in the comments as well.

My research partner Sarah Blankinship and I have been discussing the recent backlash against the idea of a “Team of Rivals”, and think that one of the things going on is that many people have an overly-limited sense of the possibilities.  The situation here isn’t the same as Lincoln winning and asking his defeated competitors to work for him.  Instead, it’s collaboration between equals who are working to advance each others’ interests while still competing for votes and President-elect Obama’s attention: rivals and also a team.

With many of the Ideas for Change having over 10,000 voters, the combined forces of the finalists can have a huge impact on  Remember that each vote on counts as 10 points, so the currently leader’s 63000 points (legalization, of course) only reflects about 6300 votes.   Hmm.  I find myself looking at Get FISA Right’s current 110 points and thinking “long way to go but it’s potentially doable … I wonder who we can work with on this?”

And I suspect others with ideas are thinking the same. Anybody up for a road trip?

Please leave links, and suggestions, in comments!


* to be clear: I’m posting this as an individual, not on behalf of Get FISA Right