As the founder of Personal Democracy Media, Andrew Rasiej has found a way to best politicians in their own game. His productions advocate for the public in the truest sense, and are firing up citizen engagement with the power of technology.
“If I stopped working it would be the same as giving up the idea that my goal is possible and for me that is the same as giving up on life itself.”
Andrew Rasiej, a tech-savvy entrepreneur, had high hopes for his run for the office of Public Advocate in New York City. As he says, “I thought I could reinvent the office to be more than one person representing 8 million people, as an office that works to link 8 million people together to improve one city.” His share of the vote was just 4 percent — low enough for him to conclude that, “the political system was rigged to protect incumbents.” He sums up the less-than-ideal experience as, “It’s too hard to campaign, raise money, and navigate a broken political system.”
It wasn’t long after, though, that Andrew realized he could still do good for the public in other ways. As he asserts, “If I really believed in what I was trying to do when I was running, I didn’t need to be elected Public Advocate.” He thereafter launched Personal Democracy Media, an independent media company, to build “a network that could do a better job at connecting people to each other to govern themselves and making the world a better place, than I could ever do being a politician.” To do this, the company focuses on how technology can be used to make politics accessible to anyone. Its findings are shared at the annual Personal Democracy Forum and on the sister website techPresident.com
Being that many citizens spend a considerable portion of time online, it comes as no surprise that Andrew has revised his role just slightly as an “advocate for the Internet Public.” He explains himself as, “Someone who works to make sure people can be connected to each other throughout the world through an open Internet because when that happens the world will be a better place.” He is also the founder of other citizen organizations, such as Mouse.org (Making Opportunities for Upgrading Schools and Education) and National Emergency Technology Guard (NET Guard); was named chairman of the New York Tech MeetUp, and serves as Senior Technology Advisor to the Sunlight Foundation, co-founded by Ellen Miller. Despite his many responsibilities, he shows no signs that he cares to lose this particular race. He states, “My work is done when every human being on the planet has access to the most basic human rights of free speech, self determination, and the right to be whoever they want to be, regardless of where, when, or how they were born.”