We have a problem in our political system.
I realize this is an understatement to say the least. We have several issues that mess with democracy ranging from gerrymandering, campaign finance, lobbyists, lack of run off elections, education/awareness, well I could continue but I’m trying to stay positive :)
I have been following the Gov2.0 movement which Tim O’Reilley powerfully described in Forbes recently:
Yet there is an alternate model, which is much closer to the kind of government envisioned by our nation’s founders, a model in which, as Thomas Jefferson wrote in a letter to Joseph Cabel, “every man … feels that he is a participator in the government of affairs, not merely at an election one day in the year, but every day.” In this model, government is a convener and an enabler—ultimately, it is a vehicle for coordinating the collective action of citizens.
I love the idea that Gov2.0 can provide transparency, education, awareness and ultimately participation. I am excited about the possibilities. Thankfully, Tim is talking about something more profound than politicians using the web solely as a fund raising vehicle - (although we know how powerful grass roots funding can change an election.)
But in my mind much of this vision is limited by our current 2 party, winner takes all, electoral system. That’s why as long as I can remember we, as citizens, have been less than satisfied with Congress. Many times we are simply picking the lesser of two suboptimal candidates.
Specific example: During Obama’s speech on healthcare last week (which was mostly great) he took a shot at Republicans for funding wars we couldn’t afford. As he made the comment, Pelosi and Biden stood up smiling and gave a rousing applause. And so did most, if not all, democrats. But the problem with this is obvious: the democrats went along with the war effort. They gave Bush permission and then they funded the war again and again and again.
I thought my party (democrats) were going to end this war and bring our troops home. There was a powerful anti-war movement in this country that participated in the election of many House democrats and our President. Some of us feel let down now. What should we do about it? Vote republican in the mid-term as a payback. Huh?
There are plenty of additional examples where our elected officials let us down but it’s not clear what we should do about it. Switch parties?
I am passionate about Gov2.0 and believe it has enormous potential.
I hope that Gov2.0 provides the catalyst to move on from our current two party system to realize it’s fullest vision. It’s going to have to be grass roots if it’s going to work at all.
To end this post, I’ll leave you with Tim O’Reillys talking about Gov2.0. It’s excellent.