Nous sommes tous Charlie

Je Suis CharlieThough there's universal agreement that violence is never the answer, some have suggested the victims of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack don't deserve our solidarity due to the magazine's problematic content. Je ne suis pas exactement Charlie - "I am not exactly Charlie" - is being said more and more in liberal circles. Remy Maisel poses the question, "whether pens are swords or tools, are we using them well?"

The rush to comb through issues of Charlie Hebdo to point out their most racist and offensive content misses the point of this moment, and misses the point of much of the satire depicting The Prophet. Any picture of Muhammad is offensive to many, but at its best the action of depicting The Prophet it is a stand against people who have made it their stated mission to silence speech with murder. I certainly don't endorse the racism or vitriol of Charlie Hebdo at its worst, but that's not incompatible with saying "we are all Charlie" in solidarity with those who stand for freedom of the press and freedom of speech.

Freedom of speech without prior restraint is a basic human right, as are the freedoms to oppose an idea, ignore an idea, and shun speech we disagree with. The people we disagree with the most have a right to say what they want without fearing for their lives, and we have the right to say they're wrong without fearing for our lives. We should all strive to use our pens better and write beautifully, but as long as beauty is in the eye of the beholder we should stand firmly against any assault on the penholder.

A great wizard once said, "Words are our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it." Whenever bullets go up against ink, I will stand with the person holding the pen. The alternative is living in a world without magic.

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Unconventional Wisdom

Davidson's Beloved Old WellI'm going back to the well.

Early on in my career, I blogged a lot. I wrote about working for Joe Biden, running for county commission, marriage equality, and starting a PAC to get more young candidates in office. Occasionally I'd do video (like this unpretentious vlog for a candidate I was working for in 2006). Eventually, temporal and professional constraints conspired to curb the blogging, and by the time I took the helm at the Young Democrats of North Carolina in 2011, e-mail and social media were dominant.

It's been awhile since I had a regular blog. Instagram is where I share my travels. Twitter has been there when I had a thought I felt compelled to share with the world, even when it was not particularly important. Along with Facebook, it's been a good way to share articles and keep up with breaking news, but social media is not a great place to make a cogent argument or tell a comprehensive story.

Blogs have been a reliable source of political gossip, advice, and scoops for over a decade now, but they're not the vehicle of choice for Millennial thought. Millennials - the most diverse, tech-savvy generation to reach adulthood - doesn't compete for a large share in this marketplace of ideas. One of my reasons for blogging again is to change this, albeit in a small way.

As the generation that's been doing the heavy lifting for campaigns and elected officials for awhile - knocking on doors, spending hours on the phone, making touches - Millennials have a unique perspective on how modern campaigns and government work. Most of the time, we're the ones working in the digital space on behalf of candidates and elected leaders. This blog will spotlight new ways to look at politics and elections.

With the Democratic Party at a low-water mark across the nation, unconventional wisdom is desperately needed. I'm sure we'll get it wrong sometimes, but not for lack of trying. I hope you'll stick with us as we make some new arguments, tell some good stories, and do our best to advance political and electoral thought.

Sam

PS -- I've chosen NationBuilder as the platform because it's one of the easier ways to carve out a social media-friendly plot of land on the web. Feel free to e-mail me if you're interested in building a Nation for your campaign or non-profit.


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