Joe Costello is big on political reform, and in his new book, Of, By, For: The New Politics of Money, Debt, and Democracy, he believes that there is something for people to do, who are disenfranchised. To stay involved in the electoral process? Yes, sure, but that system is largely broken, so something needs to be created alongside that where people can get involved, first through more awareness and education. For example, many have been learning how banking works, how everything went wrong, and we are reaching a critical mass of people who are aware. Secondly, through communication with other people. Talking with each other; getting beyond the bifurcated shut-down of conversation because of “conservative-liberal” or “Democrat-Republican” divide that seems set up to be permanently diversionary. Instead, let’s talk about banking, lets talk about money, and debt; how does the money system work, how should it work better? It’s with this sort of starting point (which is similar to how the Populists started over 100 years ago) that we can radically began to reform the political situation. All through history political reform has taken this path, and whether through occupy, tea party, or netroots, we can see the strands of the conversation beginning to take shape. The system is designed to split us, and we are the ones who have to engage in education and conversation in order to come together to reform the political structure.
As a way of introduction:
Costello wrote Of, By, For to help start a conversation on how to begin developing a politics of reform in America. He believes the foundation of any reform movement is democracy and the American people reclaiming, reviving, and evolving their roles as citizens. In Of, By, For he focuses on several issues he believes are key to 21st century democracy. These include; debt, money and banking, corporations, energy, and technology. He takes an historical look and examines the contemporary shape of these issues, asking what should they look like in the 21st century.
Costello firmly advocates our contemporary politics are both immensely corrupt and broken. The current processes will lead to no solutions, with solutions only being gained when the American people step in and redefine self-government in the 21st century. And that this is in the best tradition of the American experiment.
Joe Costello has been in or closely following American politics for over three decades. He started in 1979, joining Ted Kennedy’s primary challenge campaign against incumbent Democratic president Jimmy Carter. He spent 12 years running campaigns from the city council to congressional levels, and in 1992 was Communications Director for California Governor’s Jerry Brown’ 1992 presidential campaign. Having watched the dissolution of the New Deal Coalition throughout the 80s, he became increasingly concerned with the dominant role of money in electoral politics and the increasing corruption and dysfunction of our political system and government. He left electoral politics to work on renewable energy issues and the Internet, returning in 2004 to be a Senior Adviser for Howard Dean’s presidential run.
During Howard Dean’s campaign is where I met Joe, and began to engage with him in conversations. This book grew out of his Archean listserve which I have followed over the years. His political journey has landed him in a spot where he is ready and willing to engage what comes next. Like Joe, I came to a similar conclusion a couple of years ago; that we have to get rid of the partisan divide as a notion of identity and get beyond that in order to move to something different, writing that to fix this: “…its going to take progressives, libertarians, tea partiers, coffee partiers, conservatives… everyone that is not part of the problem (the financial/political/military elite).” Our government is big problem, and its not just ours, but global. Personally, I think ignoring it and moving onto one’s own life and community focus, is just fine. But if you are going to stay engaged through these political blogs and the online netroots, then we might as well look for a solution together.
[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book and be respectful of dissenting opinions. Please take other conversations to a previous thread. - bev]