Introduction to PeopleCount, Political Power and Accountability

This is an introduction to PeopleCount and myself. It’s one (860 word) article, and points to a 2-part series about The Nuts and Bolts of PeopleCount, and a 6-part series about how Political Accountability is in our Blind Spot. PeopleCount is about a new paradigm for politics, one that can start in a few months, if I can get some support…

Background: A few years ago, I took an independent look at politics and governance. I’m trained as a problem solver with a background in applied math and computer science (circa 1980). I worked as a software engineer. As a hobby I studied context, personal and cultural assumptions and mental frameworks. I never planned for it to be useful, much less revolutionary. Once I discovered it, I felt responsible for creating it.

An independent look at politics

Politics is a mess. Almost by definition “a mess” is something one does not understand. It’s a typical misunderstood social situation. It seems that: A) Other people are to blame, B) Lots of things are wrong, broken, needing to be fixed.

So I did what any problem-solver would do. I studied it until it made sense. That took a few months. What I saw: Our political system was never designed to work. It was intended to make government accountable to citizens. But nothing in the design actually delivered accountability. A bit was delivered in elections, but that was easily corrupted. At times we were lucky and it worked. Those times have ended.

The old childish paradigm: Us vs Them; and its myths

We live in an Us vs Them paradigm. In American politics today, it’s the Left vs the Right. And we have prominent myths that make us think nothing else is possible:

  • Myth: Power comes from force and threat of force
  • Myth: Accountability occurs in elections

Force is either them forcing their laws on us or us triumphing over them, forcing our rules. Many don’t murder due to the fear of the force of the law. (We’ve even enshrined this in the term “the police force”.) Some people define taxes as theft and only pay them because of the threat of government force. This covers up that power actually comes from societal agreement. We sort of know this, and there’s some power in petitions and demonstrations, but we don’t try to create a more powerful form of these.

Elections are seen as winning the force of government, especially the force of “mandate.” Very little accountability actually comes from elections. Yes, American elections are broken in many ways, but their being broken is more a symptom than a cause. Accountability occurs in a relationship. (Read more here, six articles.)

The Us vs Them paradigm can be seen as childish, either as a fight, an argument, or a competition. If agreement gives power, how else to forge agreement?

Movements don’t work, yet only movements work

The old paradigm of politics comes from parties competing for power. Out-of-touch and distant politicians send sound-bites to the public. Or in-touch politicians hear from a few people, the loudest voices, the media, people with the wherewithal to write or call. In-touch politicians also send sound-bites to the public. The public is mostly uninvolved. Many escape frustration through ignorance and apathy.

We commonly think, “We need a movement!” Yet movements rarely work. They’re difficult to start. Once started, they’re hard to steer. Arab Spring worked, then failed due to lack of a plan. Many movements in America grew, but not enough. The occupy movement is a great example. It had almost no lasting effect. Perhaps the movement to end the Viet Nam war succeeded, after many, many years, or perhaps it simply got too expensive. Movements these days are pretty safely ignored, though they continue to seem impressive. Many were impressed when 3-4 million marched in the January 2017 Women’s March. But 3 million people is 5% of those who voted for Hillary. ‘Not very impressive in that light.

Introduction to the new adult politics

The new paradigm requires a dedicated communication channel between citizens and our officials in order to have a relationship of accountability. And it requires many-to-many communication between citizens so they can work together to be the “boss.” So the new solution starts there (two articles).

In the old paradigm, movements were needed to make a message loud and powerful enough to impress people with a new reality. In the new paradigm, adults communicate and agree, and the agreement is known. Our politicians are aware of the agreement, so they are empowered to pass new laws. And if they don’t, our communication will naturally lead to a better selection in the next election.

The new politics is where we act like adults. We communicate coherently about what we want and design our future together. Then “government” is simply us working together to build that future.

This is just an introduction. Please read the two series of articles above. To repeat, those are the 6-part series about accountability, and the 2-part series about the solution. I invite you to talk about it in the group and find a way to either support PeopleCount or join forces. There are lots of ways to do both.

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