Is an “Accountability System” for politics possible?

If an “accountability system” could enable citizens to hold politicians accountable, what would it look like?

People spend hours every week on politics, making little difference

Imagine two citizens- Debbie and David. They spend about two and a half hours per week engaging in politics. They spend about 10 minutes twice a day listening to political news during their commutes. About 20 minutes per week of their time on Facebook is spent reading and commenting on political posts. They spend about 30 minutes per week reading political news. Could that time be better spent?

Currently, that time makes almost no difference. No matter what they learn or say or share on Facebook, they only have two ways to make a difference- vote and write letters. When they vote, they choose a candidate who seems most aligned with their positions. If they write letters, they rarely get a decent or timely answer and it seems not to matter.

With the right system, they could hold politicians accountable

Imagine designing a system that would make part of that involvement make a real difference. Imagine in that time, they could actually hold their congressional representatives and senators accountable. Even the president! What would such a system look like?

Most people simply think, “it’s impossible.” But that’s thinking “inside the box”. Yes, it’s very clear that it’s impossible, in our current thinking. Otherwise we’d be doing it!

Yet much more is possible than we know. People respond and react to their environment. If we designed a system to do the above, what would it let us do?

300 million people, two good ideas

America has about 250 million adults. I’ve come up with an effective design for an accountability system. One other person has come up with a promising design, though in my estimation it’ll have a lesser effect. In all fairness, it’s designed to improve politics, not to fix it.

Adopt a new perspective

The purpose of this article is to give you a new perspective. It’s very, very uncommon to even consider that our political system is fixable, much less that a solution exists.

If you’re capable of thinking a new thought, take this on: Fixing our political system is possible, and the solution is outside our normal thinking. Eventually it’ll be done, and you’ll look back and say, “Wow- I was blind to that whole problem. I was completely blind to the possibility of a solution.”

Be hungry for a political accountability system

Something you don’t know is on the horizon. You can make a huge difference in making it a reality, but first you’ll have to consider that it’s possible. Be open-minded. Be curious. Even better, be hungry for the details.

Strategically, Is Political Fighting the Only Option?

Strategically, is fighting the only option?

They have a party, we have a party. They have some wealthy donors plus grass-roots support, so do we. They have a powerful propaganda machine and no ethics constraining their statements. Our communication… well, it’s pretty random. To my thinking, there’s little.

Is communication another option?

What would a communication system look like that supported all Democrats, or better, everyone who’s not supporting Trump, communicating? Maybe even everyone?
 
Corporations have lots of power and money. How many hours per day do we have to spend with these inefficient campaigns to balance it? We’re not even sure we can beat it- so far, they’re winning most state-houses plus the national balance of power.
 
Why has almost no one designed a communication system to remedy this? It’s great that so many are willing to fight. We need that. But are we so committed to fighting that we ignore a new strategy that can outflank the corrupt?

Should a portion of our resources go into a new strategy?

Put another way, what percent of our resources should go toward an effort to change the political system?
 

I’m biased in this. I’ve seen a real solution. But from the trenches, it looks too far-fetched. We have a “culture.” It’s built of truisms that we traffic in daily that are not true. They’re convincing because we believe them, retell them, and our behaviors are synced with them. Those truths keep our vision inside-the-box. Yet with less than a percent of our political resources, we could change the paradigm of politics.

The current allocation isn’t working

Lots of people are certainly doing lots of different things. I’ve seen 4 types of efforts.

  1. Traditional political support for candidates
  2. Traditional political action and organizations
  3. Future thinkers
  4. Individuals trying to launch new ideas

The first two groups are the mainstay of our fight for a better future and a better-run America. We have some wins, but in the balance of power so far, we’re losing.

The future-thinkers seem to be doing nothing that can help. They’re too far in the future and working on small aspects of futuristic systems or problems we don’t have yet. They’re fine, and I hope someday what they’ve learned will be useful, but today it’s not.

The fourth group are trying to try new things, and are largely unsupported. Many that I’ve met even have a mindset that they’ll continue to be unsupported. I wish them luck.

We’re not supporting an new option

To me, it looks like we’re not supporting a real alternative. We’re stuck in the current paradigm, fighting a losing battle. Even if we win and gain some ground in the next election, we’ll still have the exact same dysfunctional system that put Obama in office and then lost control of both houses and lost even more ground in states.

Is that what you want? I’m offering a real alternative.  From what I’ve seen, it’s the only other option that’s realistic. The few people who’ve studied it started out thinking it wouldn’t work. After a lot of effort, they began to see a new possibility. It takes work to understand it. It takes work to unearth the cultural myths that cloud our view. On the other hand, we know how to divert a small percentage of our resources.

What’s a New Paradigm in Politics?

What would a new paradigm in politics be? Would you even know one if you saw it? Chance are: No.

You can’t see a new paradigm from the old one

You can’t see a new paradigm from the old paradigm. Mostly, when people look at PeopleCount from the old paradigm, they have criticisms. And we’re almost always looking at life from old paradigms. For most of us, we even limit our dreams to what’s possible in the old paradigms!. Most of us need to be dragged into a new paradigm by a book or movie to begin to see it.

From the old paradigm, PeopleCount can’t work.

From the old paradigm, PeopleCount can’t work. It, by design, produces a result that simply does not fit the way our culture understands the world.

I welcome criticisms. I’ve worked on them and have answers for them. Most people want to go around and around the old paradigm looking from their criticisms. They can only half-listen to my replies because my answers, while logical and reasonable, damage some of the threads in their view of the fabric of the world. They grudgingly concede a point, then they go on to the next criticism. In the background, their mind re-knits the threads that keep their old world-view, that is, the old paradigm, together. Often they’ll repeat an old criticism in the same conversation. Most see glimpses of the new possibility at times. But their minds quickly re-knit together their old worldview and lose the new possibility.

It’s never your fault

People say this situation is my fault. Most people blame me for not being more convincing. Or they blame PeopleCount for being flawed (even though the “flaws” aren’t real.)

There’s a third possibility, that most people can perform a paradigm shift by thinking new thoughts. Actually, none of us can without at least a lot of work. Few put effort into it. Why? Because it feels like you get two rewards: The new knowledge that you’re wrong, and a new frustration that a much better way of life is possible.

Of course, it’s my fault that I failed at writing a book and don’t have the funds or connections to make a movie (or hire a team). And it’s certainly my fault that I haven’t finished the website so you can walk into this new paradigm and learn about it by experiencing it.

I don’t mean to complain. I’m just blogging about how I see things. Who knows, maybe it’ll help me find a way to say it more simply, or in a way that isn’t at odds with the current paradigm. In the next post, I’ll discuss funding.

Our Politics are Bankrupt, based on Rhetoric, not Accountability

Our politics and our political system are bankrupt. They are based on rhetoric, performance and hearsay, not accountability.

Mistake: Politics is not just rhetoric

I read two articles on Medium.com. The first by Curtis Dozier on Hillary Clinton and the Rhetoric of Trust. The second by Joanna Kenty on Hillary Clinton’s Rhetorical Persona. They were good. They were about how we listen for trust and virtue and leadership. And we really only know how to hear these from men, not than women.

There’s another possibility for politics

An unspoken assumption in these articles was that rhetoric comprises politics. Yes, it does make up most, if not all, of our current political system. But much more is possible. Let’s look at these two realms of politics- what we have and what’s possible.

The old: Bankrupt politics based on teams, speeches and hearsay

First is the politics we know, based on rhetoric and performance in speeches and hearsay. By “hearsay” I mean all the pundits, judgements, news and non-news articles about politics. Plus all the tweets and posts and clever and not-so-clever graphics. It’s like a sport- we send our team onto the stage and have them compete for popularity, whether based on policies, experience, or showmanship. And then everyone comments about it and predicts who’ll win the league championship.

This is politics based on teams and conflict. It splits both the politicians and the citizenry into groups. Their are fans, opposing fans, plus people who aren’t into sports. And it’s based on conflict, struggling for power, the power to control our future. It’s based on winning and losing and keeping the support of the home-town fans.

A new possibility: Politics based on accountability to the people

And then there’s the politics we don’t know and have never seen, based on promises, past-performance, communication and above all, accountability. Rather than forming groups, it begins with all of us communicating about what we want together. It’s about seeing the results, finding solutions and agreeing on a way forward. The finding of solutions and agreeing on a way forward would be led by our representatives, but then they’d report to us. It could even include getting our approval.

Note this is not about Republicans or Democrats or any other group marketing their pet solutions to an uninformed public. That would be more of what we already have (and there are ways of preventing that.) This is about the citizens who care about an issue. It’s about them saying what they want. And of course, you’re part of this group if you care.

It’s not about getting rid of the old system

This isn’t about doing away with our current system of politics. This is about adding a new context. And yes, if we want to change the old system in some ways, we’d be able to do it. Should we limit campaign contributions? Should we change the primary system so the members of the party, instead of the political bosses, get to say who’s in the debates? Should we change our voting system so you can say all of the candidates you support instead of “wasting your vote” if you don’t vote for a major party candidate?

Our political system is bankrupt. It’s based on superficial appearance before the election without any real currency after. If a candidate wants to base their campaign on accountability instead of hearsay and rhetoric, they can’t. Let’s add some new value to politics. Let’s give them the opportunity to be accountable.

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Partisan Politics is Not Inevitable

Partisan politics seems inevitable.  The current political war in America makes this conclusion a no-brainer.  But what makes it inevitable?

What makes partisan politics inevitable?

Most political scientists believe political parties are inevitable.  Partly this has to do with larger alliances being more powerful.  Partly this has to do with how the parties tend to sort people into different philosophical groups, and then by human nature, we naturally align our thoughts with those of our group.

We’re all separate, so we need groups.

But what holds all of these together is an underlying assumption or paradigm, the ideas that we’re all separate.  In this paradigm, we mostly go about our individual business and come together only when necessary.  In the world created out of this, we have no way of speaking to the collective and we and our representatives don’t know what all these separate people want.

If we’re all separate, no one knows what citizens really want, so representatives must ally with a powerful group.  And with no alternative for expressing our political wishes, each of us must align with a political group as well.  It’s a reflection of this world that in our current election system, a major party candidate wins almost every national election, so voting for a non-major party candidate is futile.  And if we’re all separate, the skills needed to be a representative involve being good at publicity, raising money, telling people what they want to hear, and navigating party power structures.

Instead, we can each be part of the collective, the country

Now consider a different paradigm, that each of us is part of the collective.  In this paradigm, we naturally contribute to the collective desire, we naturally take responsibility for ourselves as collectives, as cities, counties, states and as a nation (even as humanity or “consciousness”).

Representatives would be part of it. With citizens communicating, designing our desired future, our representatives would know what we want and work on our behalf. They could legislate with confidence, craft and pass compromises and easily report back to us. They’d work with other representatives to get the job done. They’d have little need for parties. Challengers could communicate as well, enabling inexpensive elections with real choice. We could elect people based on their ability to represent us and craft solutions.

This world is available in a moment

The interesting thing about this world is that it’s available. The only thing keeping us from it are our habits of thought. We can enter into this world at any moment. And when we do, a new set of actions are appropriate.

 

When I stepped into this paradigm, it was no longer mysterious that our national government is not of, by and for the people. “By, for and of the people” would mean people being key to politics. Currently people just vote once every two or four years. And when you consider that incumbents almost always win, we’re barely needed at all.

Partisan politics is not inevitable.  Instead, we can use the power of internet connectivity to support ourselves to be responsible, empowered citizens.  Rather than accept the current situation as our default, “no-brainer” future, we can adopt a new paradigm, a new set of habits and thought patterns.  Participate in and support PeopleCount.org so we, The People, can effectively self-govern.

Convincing is the Wrong Tactic for Changing Politics

Politicians should stop convincing us they’re good. They should focus on the solutions they advocate, the advantages and challenges of the solutions, and how they’ll get bipartisan support for them.

Convincing us to vote for them

Quite often, we hear political candidates speak about change. If elected, they will change the immigration laws. Or they’ll change the regulations of big banks. Or they’ll change the current approach to foreign policy. However, after laying out the changes, the same candidates then launch into convincing us to vote for them. The conversation shifts away from methods of carrying out their proposals. They spend the majority of their time convincing us to vote for change. But they don’t dive deeper into how that change will happen.

Convincing us to dislike the opponent

As the election nears, politicians spend more time convincing us that their opponent is bad. Negative campaigning generates anger and fear among those who already support the politician, so they’ll donate more. It also makes for sensational headlines and social media impressions. But negative campaigning prohibits productive conversation. It distracts us from discussing the details of important issues. Instead of reviewing action plans, we spend time worrying and analyzing the opponent’s responses.

Convincing us to vote for them or dislike the opponent are common political tactics. But they don’t help us make good decisions. If politicians want to change the face of politics, they have to do something rare. They have to talk about real solutions.

We Need Specific Actions

In order to change politics, we need politicians who will do more than say what they want. They’ll use their platform to share specific actions and paths to achieve the goals they speak of. We need politicians who spend less time on public relations and more time on actual strategy.

Once the action plan is out in the open, opponents can criticize the path. They can then offer a response that outlines a better path. Instead of focusing on each other, the candidates should focus on policies and actions. The elections would become more about actual change. They wouldn’t focus so much on the candidates themselves.

The Current Election Could Be Different

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump disagree on a lot of laws and policies. For example, Trump supports expanding the military. Clinton disagrees about expansion. In a political world free of convincing, Clinton would share the reasons she disagrees and what her desired outcome is. Trump would explain what his desired result is, why he wants the expansion, and how he can get to his goal.

This would be a policy-based public discussion that would inform the public. It would give voters a clear idea of what each candidate stands for. However, all too often, we bear witness to the mudslinging between these two. Their back and forths in the media is more focused on their personalities than their policies.

If we want to achieve real change in politics, our politicians need to stop convincing us. They need to start sharing with us instead. We need more focus on the pathway to change. Or we’ll never get there.

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At Passover, we Commit: the Impossible CAN Happen

Today, democracy in America is impossible. The 2014 Princeton study said the evidence is clear- it’s not even close:  America is an oligarchy, not a democracy. It has been an oligarchy for years. America is no longer a democracy.

Democracy by The People is impossible

Third parties are impossible in America, but they don’t happen. 60% of Americans want a third party at times, but what The People want doesn’t matter. Our voting rules prevent third-party success.

Lawrence Lessig, advocating that America fix the democracy problem by limiting campaign financing, wasn’t even allowed to debate.

Earlier this month, Bernie Sanders won Wyoming 56% to 44%, but Hillary received 61% of the delegates, to Bernie’s 39%. Even our primaries aren’t particularly democratic.

Trump has been given massive attention by the press and at debates, while Cruz’ dirty political stunts went unpunished. And in Arizona, anyone who couldn’t wait for five hours was denied their right to vote. If democracy requires fairness, enforced rules and free voting, there’s more wrong with democracy in America than just lack of representation.

And at the end of the day, for 435 Congressional seats as well as the presidency, over 90% of those who spend the most money win. Congress has a lower turnover rate than the European monarchy, though the latter have better approval ratings.

Looking from within our culture, transforming politics is impossible.

A new solution

But this Spring, listen for a new possibility. When it arises, give it a chance. Look at the logic. Look at how it plans on working. Try it. A new solution is emerging. A way to rejuvenate our democracy. Listen for it.

In the last post, I quoted Arnold Eisen’s post Beyond the Exodus from Egypt. Especially, he says, Passover:

…demands that we think together … how to move ourselves, our society, and our world from slavery to freedom

The impossible is only impossible while we say so. We’ve split the atom. Air travel is ubiquitous. We can see and talk to each other from opposite sides of the planet.

Politics is purely a matter of organization. It’s a game that WE make up. We CAN change it if we decide to. Yes, we’re disorganized. Yes, getting people to cooperate is like herding cats. But all it takes is the right incentive. That 2 billion people use Facebook suggests something new is possible. Is there a way to do this in politics?

There will be in another 4-6 weeks. I promise. All it takes is a bit of open-mindedness on your part.

Ask yourself, “What keeps politics like it is?” Let go of your reasons- they’re all enmeshed in the current paradigm. What are the real reasons? The real reason is that, in our system, the people have the power, but we can’t use it. So others pick it up. The time is right for us to claim the power. All we need are the right tools. At PeopleCount, we’re building them.

Join us. Think with us “how to move ourselves, our society, and our world from slavery to freedom.”

Commit that impossible can happen

Please join us. Commit that the impossible CAN happen. Commit to seeing that “impossible” is just an illusion, a judgement we make up when we feel stuck. In just a few weeks, if you say so, fixing our democracy will become possible.

Your first step:  Add your name to our mailing list.

Passover Reminds us: the Impossible can Happen, with Our Support

From Slavery to Freedom

Someone sent me a link to Arnold Eisen’s post Beyond the Exodus from Egypt.  He says the take-away from the story of Exodus is:

Your life matters… The world matters. Don’t give up on it or on yourself. [The exodus] calls on us to ponder what it means to be enslaved—politically, economically, personally—and what it means to be free, and then demands that we think together at the seder about how to move ourselves, our society, and our world from slavery to freedom.

I say: We’ve given up. We’ve accepted the constraints of the current paradigm as real, and we’ve boxed ourselves within them. Much more is possible.

The Impossible can Happen?

To the people of Egypt, it was impossible that the Pharaoh would let them go. It was impossible that plagues were going to happen, much less that they were going to make Pharaoh free them. Over and over again, the plagues failed to move Pharaoh. Can the impossible happen?

Moses was given guidance. He was given a solution to their problem of slavery. But his plan was preposterous. It was never going to work. If YOU were in that situation, what would be your responsibility?

When Pharaoh told them to go, it was also unbelievable. They hesitated. Was this real? And how could they cross the Red Sea? Another impossibility. They had lived in Egypt for centuries. Resignation told them it wasn’t real. And Pharaoh was too greedy and power-hungry to let them go. He’d slaughter them, if only to set an example. Cynicism cried out for them to stay put.

What were The People’s responsibilities, in the face of the Impossible?

Moses had a plan. There was a solid line of reasoning. And with every new plague, there was evidence. It was their job to support it.

Their job was to look at the face value of the opportunity- to ignore their human notions of “impossible”. They should listen. They should consider the evidence. Give Moses a hearing. They should consider that something new was possible. Their responsibility was to believe in something greater than their limited ideas of what was possible. Their responsibility was to take a hard look at the proposal. A new way of living would take a new mindset. The impossible can happen unless we close ourselves off from it.

Ask yourself- what’s important? What could really make a difference? Join us. Add your name to our mailing list. Get ready for the upcoming beta.