A Concentration of Forces
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Jun 14 2012 9:04pm
It is a sure sign of my inexperience in organizing (anything) that I put out a call for people to tweet those whom they intellectually admire and then provided no way for those twitter recipients to figure out what the heck they were being asked to involve themselves in. Let me apologize for that here and now.
This post is an attempt to provide something people can link to that will help flesh out and provide context to what it was I was proposing.
I have been discussing the problems facing the USA (and the world) for many years now. News “analysis” was always the term used to describe what I did. “Commentator” was another oft-used description. Many of the people who have been tweeted about this also fall into those categories. Now, one either does that sort of job to make a living, or to foster positive change (as they see it) or some combination of the two.
If the goal is to foster positive change, then I imagine we have all hit the same wall. We can analyze/define the current situation (call it “A”) and where we need to go (“C”) but the mechanism to get us from here to there is the missing ingredient in all of our equations. I can't seem to come up with an adequate idea for “B” that will actually succeed. How do we get from A to C? The action verb is missing here.
The problem of course is the corruption in our political system.
Now, as we all know, every system of government that has ever existed has some level of what might be termed “corruption” inherent in it. Sweden has it, so does Nigeria. But in Sweden the problem is so small that the system deals with it and it is almost unnoticeable. In Nigeria (no offense Nigeria) it is so endemic that it dominates everything. Every system can absorb a certain amount and function fine. But there's a tipping point when things eventually get to a place where you go from having a working political system with some corruption in it, to a corrupt political system. The United States is past that tipping point.
The problem in a representative system such as the USA's though is that we have a government that translates the popular will via intermediaries. In order to reform the corruption the votes of the very people who benefit from the corruption are required to fix it. I have used the analogy that in order to foster change in this area we need the foxes to redesign the chicken coop to make it fox-proof. The dilemma here is obvious. What to do?
For years I have advocated voting for people who are not part of the Big Two political parties as a way to combat this problem. This idea has little merit anymore because the Big Two parties have spent decades enacting roadblocks at every level (local, state, federal) to inhibit third party and independent candidacies which even without such electoral impediments are long shots.
Attempts to limit the influence of money have also failed. Even if our legislators sincerely wanted to reform the issue of money buying access and influence in government the Supreme Court seems bent on thwarting them.
Well-meaning protests movements with “boots on the ground” and committed people (from all political stripes) have elicited little but scorn and mockery from the media and others (and sometimes even calls for legal sanctions and surveillance from the government).
Voting. Legislation. Protests. These are the traditional methods historically used to fill that action-verb void. Those were the “B” in our A to C transition. When those fail, what should be tried?
I recently interviewed three people running for president under the Independent or Third Party label-Former Governors Buddy Roemer and Gary Johnson and former Mayor Rocky Anderson. Every one of them agreed with me about the analysis of the situation. All agreed the corruption is the Gordian Knot in our system that taints any other sort of legislative action. No bill can make it through our system to become a law without the corruption changing it (or emasculating or “loopholing” it if it was intended to reform or create real oversight). Yet none of these people had any real answer for “B” other than “Trust me. Look at my record. I will fight this”. How? Smart men. But no answers.
That's when I decided that I am a hypocrite if I don't do something more than what I am doing. There are many smart folk out there (you are probably one of them) doing their part to help. But we are all working within our little nodes (or in the case of some of you, not-so-little nodes) of operation. Is this the optimum way to do this? Could the potential impact for change be increased if there was some increased level of interaction and cooperation between these individual nodes?
If nothing else, figuring out the answer to the “B” action-verb question would be a huge leap forward in progress. This is where brainstorming (and the involvement of audience members with specific technical knowledge or skills perhaps) might prove a crucial breakthrough point. I know that I personally would feel much more effective if I could suggest people take some action that I knew had the real potential to create a better situation for us all politically (and by that I mean a system that responded to what the great mass of society needs instead of this or that corporation or interest group. We have a government that can't think about the “General Welfare” or the holistic whole because the “whole” isn't giving them money...this or that tiny segment or interest is).
And this isn't a call for any specific political proposals. Americans don't agree on that. Different people from competing ideologies have opposing views on the various issues of the day. That's to be expected and is even healthy in a system like ours. But the great mass of Americans want a clean system so that the will of the People (whatever that turns out to be) is translated into political outcomes. There are few overt defenders of a system ruled by the money of corporations and special interest groups.
Let's recall that getting esteemed individuals and thinkers together to discuss ideas towards reform is how we got a Constitution written once upon a time. It's got a long and respected tradition and has been effective in the past. The key aspect to my effort is not to get the defenders of the status quo together (the George Wills or Thomas Friedmans or David Brooks types) but those who have already demonstrated that they understand that the status quo is a one-way trip off a historical cliff. There are a decent number of those non-status quo esteemed thinkers around, and if I could aid their efforts by bringing them together, I would sleep better at night thinking I had done something helpful and positive rather than just bitched about problems we all already realize are out there.
What does “bringing together” mean? Some virtual forum to brainstorm would seem to be a logical first step. Why have me design how things are going to be done when we can make use of the very intelligence I am trying to corral to do this instead? Working on this right now...more to follow as we educate ourselves...
We are looking into the technical options right now. More to follow as I educate myself more. Thanks for your patience and understanding.
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