David D. Burstein

David Burstein

CEO & Founder, Run for America

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON November 05, 2015

Discussion

David D. Burstein
David D. Burstein@davidburstein · CEO
Hi I’m David, I’m the founder and CEO of Run for America, we’re out to try and change American politics. Ask me anything! Thanks for joining! excited to chat with you all. this is my first time doing a chat like this, excited to get going.
Alex Carter
Alex Carter@alexcartaz · Operations @ 60dB. Ex-PH Podcasts 😻
Hi David! In your opinion what's the single largest problem facing the American political system today and how do we fix it?
David D. Burstein
David D. Burstein@davidburstein · CEO
@alexcartaz the incentive system. members of Congress are not bad people, but they are trapped in an incentive system where all of the incentives align around constant re-election, and appealing to extremist voters, there's no incentive to actually get things done or to collaborate. this is a big part of what we're trying to solve. Similarly we need more people choosing to run for office who are real leaders who've proven to be successful at mobilizing people and resources to solve problems
Alex Carter
Alex Carter@alexcartaz · Operations @ 60dB. Ex-PH Podcasts 😻
What role should successful folks in Silicon Valley (founders, investors, etc.) be playing to help make a difference in political spheres (b/c ostensibly there are more complicated problems that even the most promising startups can't solve on their own)?
David D. Burstein
David D. Burstein@davidburstein · CEO
@alexcartaz great question. we need everyone at the table in helping improve our system. Silicon Valley has helped us come up with some of the most transformative ideas of the past two decades, but politics won't be fixed by an app. its the entrepreneurial mindset of imaging a new solution to an age old problem, looking at things totally differently that we need to harness in DC. DC and Silicon Valley speak a different language and that needs to change.
Lejla Bajgoric
Lejla Bajgoric@lejlahunts · Intern, Product Hunt
Hey David! Based on the Millennial Generation's "civic idealism and savvy pragmatism, combined with their seamless ability to navigate the 21st century world," how great of an impact do you foresee us potentially having on solving some of the world's deepest, oldest issues? Do you have any specific predictions in mind?
David D. Burstein
David D. Burstein@davidburstein · CEO
@lejlahunts this generation is well positioned to affect change in the 21st century, and frankly our members of this gen who lead our biggest instutitions from Congress to Fortune 500 companies are going to have to make key decisions about how they operate into the future.
Harry Stebbings
Harry Stebbings@harrystebbings · Podcast Host @ The Twenty Minute VC
Hi @davidburstein thanks so much for joining us today. Would love to hear how significant a role social media plays in determining the political opinions of the general public in todays day and age? What platform do you find is highest in terms of engagement for you? P.S. Who is going to win the election?!
David D. Burstein
David D. Burstein@davidburstein · CEO
@harrystebbings Social media has created obviously huge opportunties to engage in the process and allowed individuals to have direct access, but it's also led to a coarsening of the dialogue, both in terms of what is said to each other and also our need to react instantly to everything that happens (often much more emotional) and often distracts from issues of substance. there's a great book called the filter bubble that talks about what you see online politically affects people and the danger of political thinking silos
David D. Burstein
David D. Burstein@davidburstein · CEO
@harrystebbings as to your other point. I try and stay out of the prediction business, but you may find this piece I wrote about how trump can win to be interesting: http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2...
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
Hey David! Thanks for being here today. 🙌During your career to date, what has been your a) most challenging moment and how did you overcome it? b) proudest moment and why? c) most surprising moment? Thanks!
David D. Burstein
David D. Burstein@davidburstein · CEO
@ems_hodge in 2013 I did a book called Fast Future. Writing a book is one of the most challenging things you can do. It's also one of the most rewarding, I learned in that process that you just have to plow through things, generating your own personal momentum is the most important thing you can do in challenging environments. creating and celebrating small wins. it's what keeps you going particularly when it gets really tough.
David D. Burstein
David D. Burstein@davidburstein · CEO
@ems_hodge I'm proud of everything I've been able to build and share with other people. I'm always most proud of what I'm doing at the moment, because each thing you do, you learn and get better. my career hasn't been linear, but I couldnt have done anything I've done without doing the others and doing the others in that order. I try and let my passions guide me in life and not plan too much.
David D. Burstein
David D. Burstein@davidburstein · CEO
@ems_hodge most surprising...thats a tough one, I think there's a lot of chance encounters that have made a big difference, but we all have many of those moments. It's just a question of whether we are open enough with our minds and eyes to see them happening. Living in NYC one of my mottos is "look up" because in NYC you miss have the story if you look straight ahead. Suddenly you look up for the first time, after walking down the same street for 10 years and you see things totally differently and you have new realizations. I'd encourage everyone to look up a little more
Russ Frushtick
Russ Frushtick@russfrushtick
How do you make politics more about the issues and less about soundbites and witty retorts?
David D. Burstein
David D. Burstein@davidburstein · CEO
@russfrushtick we will always have soundbites. but right now the people who shout the loudest win, not actually because they are the loudest, but because they are the only ones being loud. Non-extremists by definition make less news because they are less loud. But those people can organize more powerfully to overpower the soundbite culture. the Soundbite culture is a symptom of needing ratings and also because there's a rather vacant landscape of people talking substance
Alex Carter
Alex Carter@alexcartaz · Operations @ 60dB. Ex-PH Podcasts 😻
What do you think will be the single most important political change in the next 15 years that will irrevocably change the nature of American politics and direction of of progressive change?
David D. Burstein
David D. Burstein@davidburstein · CEO
@alexcartaz 15 years from now we'll probably have been able to make voting and registration much easier and more digital. that will expand the electorate greatly and open up big new potential.
Alex Carter
Alex Carter@alexcartaz · Operations @ 60dB. Ex-PH Podcasts 😻
A lot of folks, including Van Jones and I believe David Axelrod, have talked about how trying to stay politically informed from watching TV is hard b/c the discourse gets reduced to zings, sound bites, yelling matches, etc. Do you think there is a promising alternative to staying informed? If so, do you see podcasts playing a role here?
David D. Burstein
David D. Burstein@davidburstein · CEO
@alexcartaz it's less about the medium and more about what people are saying. there's not a quality dialogue right now I don't think. we're not listening to each other, we are talking at and past each other. the promise of social media to be a real dialogue hasn't yet been fulfilled in politics, its still very much broadcast like TV is
Corley
Corley@corleyh · COO @ Product Hunt
@davidburstein what is your POV on the two-party system?
David D. Burstein
David D. Burstein@davidburstein · CEO
@corleyh having two parties in and of itself isnt a problem. the challenge is that both parties have become so monolithic in their thinking. Each party used to be made up of 2-4 factions, with some more moderate than others which creates incentive for them to work with the other party. we don't have that right now and that creates gridlock.
Chris F. Nicholson
Chris F. Nicholson@chrisfnicholson · Partner - Venture Politics
Why aren't more Millennials running for office?
David D. Burstein
David D. Burstein@davidburstein · CEO
@chrisfnicholson Chris first of all would love to hear more about what you do at Venture Politics...tell us more?
David D. Burstein
David D. Burstein@davidburstein · CEO
@chrisfnicholson in response to your question though, there are a whole host of reasons and I dont know that any one is more important than another, but the sum of them together is a huge challenge, so I'll list them: not sure they can make impact this way and feel they can make more impact/see it better as an entrepreneur or social entrepreneur, it's expensive, they don't know how, no one asks them to, they don't see others in their generation doing it...just a few examples of why. we have a lot of data on this I'd be happy to dialogue on offline, feel free to reach out
Chris F. Nicholson
Chris F. Nicholson@chrisfnicholson · Partner - Venture Politics
@davidburstein @chrisfnicholson At Venture Politics, @craig_montuori and I see big problems, like millennials not running for office, as the result of a lot of smaller, seemingly unrelated flaws in government process. So you have to work on things like reducing the current 4 year terms for city commissions, and updating an outdated brown act that makes it hard to participate remotely.
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Welcome, David! How do you stay up-to-date with what's happening in the world? Do you have any go-to publications, podcasts, sites, or people you'd recommend others follow?
David D. Burstein
David D. Burstein@davidburstein · CEO
@rrhoover I follow pretty much every news organization on twitter and Facebook and use that to source many of the things I read, I'm a news junkie. but I love longform and longreads they offer great perspectives and usually read a few of their pieces on the weekend.
David D. Burstein
David D. Burstein@davidburstein · CEO
well thanks everyone you've been great. really enjoyed chatting with all of you. thanks for making my first live chat a great one!
Jake Crump
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
What's something you've changed your mind about in the last year?
David D. Burstein
David D. Burstein@davidburstein · CEO
@jakecrump I used to think the biggest problem in our system was campaign finance reform. Then I realized, even if people only had to raise $500 to run for office, they would still have to appeal mainly to extremist voters to win and so the challenge we have today would be relatively similar. last midterm cycle, there were only 30-40 real contested House seats out of 435, which means most people who are there only had to win a primary where 40-50,000 people voted, and yet they are supposed to represent 700,000+ people, they really don't. they represent the extremists in their party who show up
Jeff Umbro
Jeff Umbro@jeffumbro · CEO of The podglomerate
@davidburstein So, how do we fix politics?
David D. Burstein
David D. Burstein@davidburstein · CEO
@jeffumbro first we have to agree that we can. one of the biggest challenges is the mindset that the situation is hopeless. it's not. we need citizens, candidates, everyone, to step up and say "the system isnt working, but the only way you make a bad system better is if good people step up to help" all of us who say "it's broken" follow that up with, what could I do, if I put in some effort to make it better. It won't magically transform. without participation from people who want change it won't change and right now the electorate is shrinking (the last midterms were the lowest voter turnout in 75 years) and only the people most invested in the status quo are part of it. this is the first step. without that we can't begin to move on. But ultimately we need a strategic combination of expanding the electorate, new leaders running for office, new kinds of campaigns, lowering the cost to run, and changing the people who fund elections in order to fix this. you should check out more on Run for America www.runfor.us and join us!
Jake Crump
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
What do you think is the biggest obstacle when it comes to increasing engagement and interest in politics from our generation? What do you think will be the biggest obstacle for the next generation?
David D. Burstein
David D. Burstein@davidburstein · CEO
@jakecrump time. we see our competition as the NFL, Facebook, CBS, HBO, people's work. etc. there are so many ways you can spend your time, and we are so much more concious of our own time, so the question we have to answer is "I know what i'm going to get when I sit down to watch monday night football, and I know how I'm going to feel. Why should I spend my time on politics when I don't know what impact that will make?"
Jake Crump
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
What was it that initially made you want to start Run for America? What was that process like?
Jake Crump
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
If you could snap your fingers and instantly change just one aspect of American politics, what would you change?
David D. Burstein
David D. Burstein@davidburstein · CEO
@jakecrump I'd underscore my earlier point, we need people to believe that it's possible to change things in our politics, so I wish there was a way to change the cynicism about that possibility
Jake Crump
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
What are the 3 resources that have most improved your life? (blogs, books, movies, advisors, etc)
David D. Burstein
David D. Burstein@davidburstein · CEO
@jakecrump we have an incredible team. the people who work with us are some of the best people I've ever gotten to work with and we're all motivated by a deep belief in the work we do. Every day they teach me things and help me improve. The best team is one where every person on it can learn and grow from every other person on it. dismissing someone and their potential to help you grow because of their role or position is one of the biggest mistakes you can make.
Curtis Ault
Curtis Ault@curtis_ault
I have a simple one: How do we get insider trading out of Congress?
David D. Burstein
David D. Burstein@davidburstein · CEO
@curtis_ault Congress would have to pass it. they did pass a version of the Stock Act which was supposed to fix this but then a key provision was invalidated at the last minute. It's certainly an issue I think more people should be demanding change on.