I don't know if I'm still tired from the last two and a half weekends of a fully stacked social calendar, or if the lethargy that has come over me lately is due to the paucity of current events that have been recycled the last few weeks under the guise of being "breaking news", or whether I have just got the same summer fever everybody else has - whatever it is, nothing in the world of politics seems to hold my interest lately.
S. and I were talking this morning about the fight over Obama's Supreme Court nominee, a fight that is as predictable as WWF wrestling. Sotomayor's statement about wise Latina women experiences? No blood no foul. But the cackling from the chicken coops and the catcalls from the peanut gallery will continue, the way they always do, because role playing is the real responsibility of the press and political pundits.
I told S. about my buddy's call last week, when he sounded a little concerned about Sotomayor's record. "He had told me last year that he didn't like the idea of a super liberal judge on the bench. Actually, I think he said 'we don't need any radicals on the bench.'"
S. rolled her eyes.
So when he told me what he was hearing on a cable news network at lunchtime one day last week, I had to help him out a little bit. "Dude," I said, "what you are hearing isn't news. These phrases are stacked on the shelf of conservative think tanks like cordwood, ready to be thrown on the embers of outraged public discourse whenever the fire threatens to go out."
I wasn't finished.
"Think about it - you've heard the words 'activist liberal judge' and 'legislating from the bench' so many times whenever a Democratic president nominates a Supreme, you'd think the GOP owned the copyright on them. But the reality is that the most activist judges on the court are the ones who can proclaim that they are "strict constructionists" before a single fact or unusual circumstance is considered."
I wasn't until later that day, while I was mulling over something else, that I got the urge to send my buddy an email. The email was going to say "do you know how easy it is to start a think tank?", but by the time I opened up Outlook and read through a few emails of my own, I had reformulated my idea to "I’m thinking about STARTING A THINK TANK myself."
I don’t know a think about 501(c)3‘s, but I googled "starting your own think tank" and came up with a few publications that purport to walk you right through it. Realistically, I've got a few other things going on right now that need to be completed before embarking on any new projects, but I would imagine that getting approved takes a few months, so getting one off the ground is probably a two stage
Basically, from what I’m seeing so far, you can do it online. The bottom line is the money – getting enough cash in place to pay an exec director, even a part time one, who can then turn around and be the think tank’s chief fundraiser and operations person until they can hire a staffer or two is probably the hardest obstacle.
Why am I putting so much emphasis on this "Think Tanks R Us" idea? Why do I think you should be thinking about starting one or supporting one yourself?
So we can begin to float our own messaging about our ideas in a manner that allows us to be considered legitimate shapers of the nation's public ideals. So we can create more diversity in the universe of public policy offerings that our governing bodies seem to restrict themselves to whenever there is need for public debate.
If you were to take your thumbs and hold them over the balloons in the diagram above that say "Progressive Blogger" and "Republican Blogger", then you would be looking at the old way that information used to travel in this country before the internet came along. Do not underestimate your importance in this process, whether you are a political blogger, a subscriber to political blogs, or a frequent reader of them.