Former Maryland governor Parris Glendening, pushing 70 years old, has been trying to improve his relationship with modern technology.
“I use this LinkedIn type thing,” he told me the other day. “Let me put it this way: I’m getting better.”
He still does not have a Facebook account — his younger wife does — but this week he joined a new political social network called Ruck.us, which links users together not by political party, but by individual issues. Learning about the new site didn’t take much technological wizardry for the former governor: It was co-founded by his son Raymond Glendening, a former campaign consultant. (The other founder is Nathan Daschle, son of former senator Tom Daschle.)
“I’m just so proud of him,” Glendening said. “I carry around just as many of his business cards as I do of my own.”
The proud papa is proud not just because his son’s site, launched in September and run from the District, is getting attention in hot tech publications like TechCrunch and Mashable — I learned about it from this great story on MarylandReporter.com — but because he thinks Ruck.us fits perfectly with how many people approach politics these days.
“No matter who you are or what your political ideology is, Ruck.us will 1) match you to politically like-minded people; 2) enable you to exchange information; and 3) take collective action on the issues that matter most to you,” the site says. “It’s that easy: Connect. Engage. Change your World.”
The site does this by having users pick issues they care about, then answer a series of questions that suss out where you stand on specifics. Users follow and communicate with like-minded people, and then the site suggests advocacy ideas, such as signing petitions or attending certain events.
“The basic premise here is exactly right,” Glendening told me. “You can be a really strong Democrat who votes Democratic, gives money, feels strongly about the issues, but absolutely disagrees with the party on important issues.”
He’s a good example, he said. Though he’s a staunch Democrat, he thinks the United States should be out of “these wars a lot faster than what’s happening. I don’t think we should have ever been there, particularly not at this length of time. But I’m still a strong Democrat.”
Republicans, he said, face similar problems on certain issue too.
“I know a lot of Republicans, good, strong solid Republicans who will say the tax situation is pretty ridiculous — of course taxes should be higher than this and that we should should get rid of some exemptions that are primarily benefitting the rich,” Glendening said.
He continued: “For informed, active people like myself, this site is just one more vehicle — a very important vehicle — to express ourselves, to organize, to keep track of information. But it won’t mean that I personally lessen my commitment to the overall party.”
You could imagine a situation then, via Ruck.us, where a Republican who supports the wars but wants tax increases suddenly is having a dialogue with a Democrat who dislikes the wars but also wants tax increases. Common ground. Neat stuff, I’d say.
Glendening is not the first former governor to join the site. That honor belongs to former Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer, whose profile is here.Glendening’s profile, which requires logging in to see, lists these top issues: civil rights/civil liberties, education, job creation, housing, the environment, and campaign and political reform.
He has 271 followers, including me.
Give Ruck.us a spin and let me know what you think of the idea in the comments section below. I think it’s off to a promising start.