Harnessing Collective Intelligence to Save Democracy
“The most durable and dangerous ‘special interest’ – the only one that can directly traduce the Constitution – is the political class.” George F. Will
Robert David Steele (Vivas) has produced a significant, but short, political essay for the Huffington Post, titled, “Citizens Fiddle, Obama Dances.” The central argument of the essay is that there is a ‘confrontational convergence’ of major proportions set to occur in the U.S. presidential election year of 2012 between a set of negative and positive forces that Steele has been able to identify and summarize. At stake is nothing less than the constitutional government of the U.S. and the continued prosperity of the U.S. and probably the world.
To put it another way, the current U.S. Political System has two major problems that threaten the Constitutional Foundations on which it is built:
First to a greater extent than anytime in U.S. History, the U.S. Government no longer effectively represents the interests of the majority of its citizens, but is actually controlled by a very wealthy minority (an oligarchy–many would say a kleptocracy).
Michael Lind in a perceptive article “Nobody Represents the American People,” at Salon, makes this point most clearly. And he correctly, I believe, noted that this control was not the result of a vast conspiracy against popular democracy, but was due to a systemic problem. The way the U.S. Political System is structured and operated, wealthy individuals and institutions have gained inordinate influence over both political parties and the politicians that they sponsor. The people who pay the bills have the ability to direct legislation and guide policy formulation. As the result, politicians of both parties will pay lip service to the popular will during elections, but in the end it is the people who actually pay for their campaigns who own their allegiance. Lind somewhat overstates his case for the decline of mass participation in public affairs, but basically he is correct.
Second political power is addictive and in the absence of real safeguards, the Republican and Democratic Parties have colluded to exclude any other parties from threatening their hold on government. And since they are controlled by the same set of wealthy patrons their policies are essentially identical, a fact concealed by political rhetoric and a highly suspect public media. They form a duopoly that has been able to hold on to power for forty years and to marginalize non-duopoly candidates by manipulating election laws, election districts, political debates and, of course, the print and broadcast media. As a toxic by-product of duopoly control of government, civil liberties as guaranteed by the Constitution have been steadily eroded usually under the guise of public safety. In the elegant prose of Michael Lind, “The disconnect between the actions of the government and public opinion is the central fact of American politics today. It doesn’t seem to matter whether liberal Democrats or conservative Republicans are in power. Only minor, marginal reforms ever take place.”
So what is the solution to these dangerous, I use the word advisedly, problems? Well Steele with the aid of some collaborators has devised what he correctly suggests is the “Magna Carta’ of the 21st Century, the Election Reform Act of 2011. This is a one page document that is presented among other places in his Huffington Post essay Electoral Reform (1 Page, 9 Points). If enacted it would break the power of the duopoly and its wealthy patrons and truly return power to the people. But would it ever be enacted by a congress controlled by a power addicted duopoly which in turn is employed by a wealthy oligarchy? The original Magna Carta of 1214 (CE) was forced down King John’s throat by a consortium of land barons and wealthy merchants who gave him the choice of acceptance or abdication. Does the U.S. citizenry have similar leverage over congress? Certainly not now, but Steele believes that a
movement started by thought leader Tom Atlee, with the meme of “Change the Game,” may be able to mobilize enough voters to force congress to pass the act and the executive branch to enforce it.
Atlee heads an Oregon based outfit called the “Co-intelligence Institute”, which to date has not been co-opted the U.S. oligarchy. The Institute in essence is trying to create a collaborative movement among the voters that will be a force for change through the power of the collective intelligence of its participants. Among other things Atlee hopes that as the movement grows, natural leaders will come to fore who will use integrity and decency to turn the movement into a politically powerful force.
If Atlee can reach enough citizens through other means, such as GroupOn (originally a citizen democracy idea by founder Andrew Mason), the National Council on Dialog and Deliberation (NCDD); and what Steele calls the “eight tribes” of intelligence, he–Tom Atlee–may be offering us all a last chance at regaining true political freedom and restoring the Republic.
Robert Steele, a truly important and original thought leader himself, has somehow managed to retain his sanity and integrity in spite of living within spitting distance of the nation’s capital. He now is pleading for monetary and participatory support for Tom Atlee and his institute; I think this plea should be heeded.
From the Heartland
12 December 2011
Phi Beta Iota: $25 is the norm, send more if you can, this is the one person in the USA who is absolutely without question working on behalf of We the People. Donation Link Here. Below is from the Co-Intelligence Institute donation page.
Why should I donate to the Co-Intelligence Institute rather than some other charity or cause?
We hope that you will donate to the Co-Intelligence Institute if you believe, as we do, that our work offers a very high potential for positive change.
We believe that our current social systems — especially our political and governance systems — are dangerously unresponsive to positive change, and even actively block the very changes we need to survive and thrive in the 21st century.
No matter what other issues concern you (and there are a huge number that concern us), we suggest that the existing system will not handle them well. The Co-Intelligence Institute is currently focusing on changing the political system so that it will handle every other issue wisely — and inspiring a movement of conscious evolutionary agents to catalyze cultural shifts, systemic evolution, and technological development into more co-intelligent forms.
To the extent we succeed at that, we’ll get the world we all want, because we’ll be able to freely and wisely co-create it, using these more responsive and wise democratic systems. We invite you to consider the logic of this and — if you agree — support our work.
If you believe, as we do, that our work offers a very high potential for positive change, we hope that you will donate to the Co-Intelligence Institute.