Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tit for Tat

Is this because we don't care about the future of our country or the world? A lot of people have some questionable priorities, but no, I don't think so. I think it has a lot to do with distance, real andperceived. Washington, and decision making, seems far away from the average US citizen. 

Maybe we don't expect much of our leaders, because we expect that Washington is going to do what Washington is going to do, regardless of who is in office. Is this that true? Maybe, but not trying to exercise the power you do have certainly isn't going to help. For the pessimists out there, think along the "lesser of two evils" line. (Tat)

Bolding is mine, should you notice it. I've been thinking a lot lately about the average voter and their proximity to the implications of this election. 

Does the average voter know what the different choices actually mean? Does the political process provide voters enough information to make that decision?

What can we citizens do to empower each other, and help each person come to their best possible, most informed decision?



Blogger syd said...

have an intelligent, non-judgemental dialogue in the "pay it forward" kind of sense. we can stop word vomiting in each other's faces but instead have a real discussion about the pros and cons of both sides and determine which candidate's priorities match up with our own. then we do it again, this time with someone else while the previous person does the same.

i actually did something like this in 04. i explained to a family friend who was on the fence why i supported the candidate i did in relation to my personal priorities and she was able to make her decision. she wound up supporting the same candidate as her husband and he was so thrilled that he gave me an extra piece of cake.

4:16 PM  
Blogger Mix said...

That is a great ROI.

I was thinking more on a wider scale though. Person to person conversations won't ever scale in politics, I (sadly) don't think. I'd love to get proved wrong.

I'm wondering how we can take open source and wiki-based concepts and apply them to political participation.

5:50 PM  
Blogger Preston said...

For one we can stop talking about "both" sides, cut that completely out of our mode of thinking, and start thinking about the multiple candidates we have as individuals, instead of as spokesmen for a party - their loyalty to their party will always, always, always be higher than their loyalty to the people of their country.

There are plenty of examples of how open-source governance, if you will, has been taking place. Notably, the government of New Zealand has either recently finished or is still re-writing its police code and they opened up a wiki for citizens to essentially "write" the law along with politicians. Their extremely correct reason for doing so is that the people are the "customers" of the government and police and so they would know best about what they want out of the service they are paying for through their taxes. This can be extremely easily done on a municipal level, and it wouldn't be too difficult to scale it up. Imagine open-source treaties!

Much the same reason Firefox is better than IE - the customer takes control of the product and everyone benefits.

5:55 PM  
Blogger syd said...

i think depending on WHEN you start doing it, person to person can reach a wide scale. also if you have 100 people starting at the same time 2 months before an election, with this pay it forward concept you can reach a wide range of people in a high quality way.

and as for the two sides, right now you cant deny that in this country there are two sides. we can work to change that over the next four years, but in order to be affective you have to understand current reality, and in our current reality there are only 2 candidates who have a chance. and though they are individuals, they will run the country with a team of hundreds who are from one "side" or the other. thats reality.

9:07 AM  
Blogger Sara said...

Mike I think you're onto something. Blogging has opened up who writes accessible news to basically everyone, and wikipedia has opened up who writes accessible information to basically everyone. But how come our elections and the information the average citizens know about our candidates is still so tied to what the big news networks and newspapers choose to write about? How can we open up information with politics in the same way that, say, wikipedia information is open and accessible?

Right? That's what you're getting at?

Sorry if this explanation lacks precision, but I think you'll get what I'm saying. Too tired to word hunt for perfection.

11:31 AM  
Blogger Molly said...

It's only a matter of time until web 2.0 takes over the world (and hopefully in an effective and positive way). User-created content, baby.

That is to say it can only take over the portion of the world that have a computer and an internet connection...which may speak to explain a bit of Adam's point about the large amount of information that people don't seem to educate themselves on-- perhaps they don't have access to it.

This can also be seen in the debates-- where sometimes Obama (whom I love) seemed to over cater to the middle class...but he could bank on the fact that they were the ones with enough time and a TV to watch.

This is still no excuse, because there are plenty of people who DO have access to information and don't take advantage of it. I think this problem could begin to be remedied by reinvigorating school curriculum with democracy education, participatory action projects, and instilling a sense of civic duty (that a culture of volunteerism has shifted a bit from political service towards social service. Example: When kids grow up and say they want to change the world, their first thought is generally NOT "I'm going to enter politics")

I agree with Sydney that the 2 party system is our current reality...but I agree with Preston in that we should expand our minds...because more than 2 parties should NOT cause the breakdown of a true democracy.

Yet thousands still point fingers at Nader for being the spoiler of the 2000 election. When in reality, Nader's the man. Not the man for this presidency (he still has the right to run), because now he's getting old and a bit shaky. But he's the man in the sense that I think his moral fiber allows him to look in the mirror and smile-- which is impressive for anyone after so long in the world of politics.

5:26 PM  

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