Seattle is putting it’s money where its democracy is: out in public. Too bad the president won’t do the same.
Perhaps too rarely, advocates manage to link the climate conundrum with one of the most powerful civic narratives, patriotism (which, as we know, is intensely dangerous in the wrong hands—and it’s often in the wrong hands). When it works, it’s pretty good stuff, and it has the added benefit of being, you know, true. We do actually need to protect the land and the people who constitute our concept of a country. Even in the face of legitimate criticisms of the country and nationalism, generally, we still need to protect the land we rely on and the people we exist with. More peace, more health, more wisdom, more equality; there are a lot of shared urgencies here. We are yearning to breathe free!
The LA Times has launched a potent and incisive series examining the many severe limitations and burgeoning problems of the Trump administration. On on hand, one might be surprised that an organization—even a tough-minded editorial board in America’s second largest city—could make such a determination so quickly. On the other hand, the current administration is a veritable haboob of boobery, and there is nothing to be gained by forestalling the alarms. They do not. Topics thus far include Trump’s lies, his authoritarian tendencies, and his “war on journalism,” among others. Follow the series from the beginning, and read their explanation for “Why We Took a Stand on Trump.” You might also wish to support the paper with a digital and/or print subscription.
From the distinguished Dr. John Gastil of Penn State: an argument—and a model—for a digital network that effectively connects and advances democratic deliberation and action: the Democracy Machine. We can absolutely create systems like this. As this paper argues, we need the vision, the funding, and the active participation of the countless individual groups already doing important work in this arena. (Dr. Gastil is a former adviser and, though he does not yet know it, a friend of Civic Tide.)
Dozens—and possibly hundreds—of platforms like these have been conceived or built to address specific aspects of civic engagement. Unconnected to each other, let alone an integrated system easy for citizens to use, these platforms cannot begin to realize their full potential. This essay might help to bring the creators and users of such tools into a more focused conversation with one another, to build a more fully integrated civic platform.
The Democracy Machine’s operation can be summarized as drawing on public energy and ideas, mixing those into concrete policy advice, influencing government decision making, and creating a feedback loop that helps officials and citizens track progress together as they continuously turn the policymaking crank. The Machine envisioned is an online system to harmonize the interests of civic leaders, vocal and marginalized citizens, and government. Democracy’s need for ongoing public consultation would fuel the Machine, which would, in turn, generate focused and empowered deliberation that gives back to government the legitimacy necessary to make tough policy decisions.