On Facebook, there was a different sort of discussion. In it, I saw that we so easily slip back into the win/lose/fight paradigm. Continue reading
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 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.
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.
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.
If you want this, too, add your email address to our announcement list.
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.
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.
A new possibility for political reform is complex. In the last post and the one before it, I described a Facebook conversation I had. It was mostly me talking, at length. And the posts were long. Was that necessary?
Common ideas in our culture vs uncommon ones like political accountability
“Laughing out loud” is a cultural meme. Even before it was abbreviated “LOL” it was a three-word phrase. The more common an idea is in the culture, the shorter its description.
Did Ted Cruz commit a fraud against voters when he spread the rumor that Ben Carson had withdrawn from the race right before the Iowa primary? Will this be his Watergate? Most of us know what “Watergate” refers to, a violation that leads to a politician’s downfall.
On the other hand, “political accountability” is two words, and few people are very familiar with what it means. Here’s one definition that describes it in abstract terms. This is how most people hold it, as something abstract that comes from elections where it’s enforced.
But check out this definition from the world bank, in paragraphs 3 and 4 at the bottom of the first column:
accountability exists when there is a relationship where an individual … [is] subject to another’s oversight, direction or request that they provide information or justification for their actions. Therefore, the concept of accountability involves two distinct stages: answerability and enforcement.
This is foreign to most Americans. It makes sense, but when I’ve asked people what political accountability is, they usually say something about responsibility and elections.
Uncommon ideas like political accountability naturally need more words
So I usually need to describe where real accountability occurs in everyday life, like a student is accountable to a teacher. Or like I say in our How it Works page, an employee is accountable to an employer.
And only when they have a workable understanding of accountability can they begin to understand how it can occur in elections.
Another way is for you to imagine you were accountable to people. What would you DO to be accountable? Currently, you would just try to be responsible. You’d try to know what they want and try to do what you know is best. Again, we’d have to look at the full definition to see you need a relationship, a way to be answerable- to report regularly, plus be fire-able.
It’s not that complicated, but it takes a lot of words.
This has been particularly challenging with potential investors. Many want a business to describe themselves in a few words, like: Amazon for Groceries, or MapQuest for hikers. For PeopleCount, where do you hire someone or use a service to make others accountable? A lawyer does this, but we’re not really being “your political attorney”. This sort of thing is needed for remodels, but to my knowledge doesn’t exist. Perhaps we could try: “Your general contractor for politics.” Again, it’s not really accurate.
If you think of something good- please let me know!
But my point is that it’s not a common notion in our culture, yet, so it requires a lot of words.
Please help us make working political accountability to citizens a reality. Please add your email to our announcement list.
In the last post, I gave part of a paraphrased conversation that I had with a friend on Facebook about people hearing a new possibility. So I told
He then read the How it Works page, and focused on the first part, where you, the citizens, will direct your representatives. He said,
I must admit, I’m probably NOT going to support you in “You will direct them.” That sounds like our officials will be slaves to the whims of the people. Maybe that is why people are not listening to you or supporting you?
I said “You will direct them”, not command them. That’s an example where your listening created “they will be slaves.” That came from your brain, your listening. Plus, it’s more common for people to think that due to reading it, rather than speaking with me. Few people think it when I talk with them. We’ll definitely produce a video.
Listen for a new possibility, like an employer/employee relationship
This new possibility is more like an employer/employee relationship. We, the employer, say what we want and our employees, our representatives, actually hear us and respond. This is like an employee given a problem and a recommended solution. She is free to study it and recommend a different solution. Imagine we citizens say “We want a wall!” She might say, “75% of people want this, so we’ll move ahead, but 25% of people don’t, because of the expense. So we’re looking at a compromise- a wall in a few places and electronic surveillance in others.” Or she might say, “Our committee analysis shows that a wall would invite all sorts of tunneling. So we’re looking at some other solutions. You can read more about it on this linked page. We’ll publish our analysis in 3 weeks and work with PeopleCount so you can vote on new solutions as well.”
The point is, they’ll know what we want, and can account to us for their actions and intentions. This is very different from what we have today, where our representatives are effectively silent. Most of us can’t hear them because we have no way of just listening for reports on the issues we care about. Plus, we don’t know what others in our district or state want, so we don’t know what we all prefer, so we don’t know whether our representative is representing us well. Public polls are only done annually, are untrustworthy because of the low rate of participation, rarely poll a specific district or state, and even when they do, few of us find them. On our site, we’ll show everyone how people are voting as the votes come in. You’ll know what your representatives know about what people want.
If people are not hearing a new possibility for political reform,
what are they hearing?
People find it hard to hear for a variety of reasons. Some people are listening for how hopeless or rude politics is. Some are listening for how they can win or how they are losing. Often our listening is shaped by the negative campaigning about how evil the other party is. Some are listening for how unjust things are, how expensive it’ll be to take action, or how the real problem is something else. Most people are hearing what they are listening for.
I’ve talked to many people. Few people are listening for how to achieve accountability. Most of these are certain that the only way is to express their anger and/or elect their people.
Others are certain the only way to achieve accountability is to limit campaign financing and pass anti-corruption legislation. These seem to me to be fine things to do. It will lessen accountability to wealthy donors a bit. But it doesn’t do anything to lessen accountability to parties, or cause accountability to citizens.
As you can probably tell, the real problem is that I write too much. I’ll tell you why in the next post.
In a Facebook thread, a friend said (paraphrasing)
I seem to be finding few people willing to actually engage in inquiry. They mostly want to be right and make others wrong. They are stuck to a single point of view and just want to prove their point.
Perhaps they’re just not willing to engage in YOUR inquiries. Lots of us are busy. Many of us have inquired into some of these things at great length and moved on. When you ask a question, they hear an issue they already have made a decision on.
For instance, I have a great way to transform democracy. Few people can hear a new possibility when I give the 1-minute intro. I could conclude most people are too narrow minded or stupid. (That would be akin to your saying they just want to prove a point or are stuck to a single point of view.) But there are many other explanations, and making them wrong doesn’t serve me. Or you.
About 80% of these people will talk with me more about it. After ten to thirty minutes, they hear a new possibility and are eager to try it out.
But few people get it from anything written. A few people get a bit of possibility from the current How it Works page. It went through many iterations before it was even a little effective. You shouldn’t be surprised that your written comments are misinterpreted. Even excellent writers are not nearly as expressive as a speaker.
It’s always a mistake to generalize a reason why people do or don’t do things. It’s almost always a mistake to think I understand why a single person does or doesn’t do something. If the reason makes them wrong, that’s a good signal that it’s particularly bogus and it’s time for me to realize I’m being presumptuous.
CM: Hmm, thanks Rand. That sounds like a great example! Do you have a video explaining your transformation of democracy?
Not yet. We’re working on an animation. Some people do videos well. I’ve tried, and they haven’t been worthwhile. I certainly agree, a video is a good way to communicate a new possibility.
I will continue this in the next post.