One of my favorite internal Facebook sayings is “nothing at Facebook is somebody else’s problem.” This is a restatement of a long-held principle of open source software–if you don’t like how something works, don’t complain, fix it, and then send a patch so that everyone else can benefit from your fix. It might seem naive, but it’s this approach that has gotten us the internet, which is miraculous despite all of its warts, and it’s this approach that drives forward innovation.
Democracy is essentially open source. There are plenty of problems with American democracy, but for now we can fundamentally change it if we put our minds to it. When Obama responded to boos at Trump’s name with “don’t boo, vote,” he was expressing that essential open source mindset: this belongs to all of us, and if you want to make it better, you’re going to need to do it.
It’s not a perfect analogy by any means, but it’s getting there. We have to participate in our politics, not just stand on the sidelines and bitch. Voting is a good step, and there are many more steps beyond that if you’re interested, but at very least you need to vote.
Nothing in America is somebody else’s problem.