Reforming U.S. democracy ...
and healing the partisan divide
THE SITUATION: The Partisan Divide ... The U.S. is divided into two partisan camps. It seems like people are “just that way,” that it’s human nature. No! It’s our system. The Founders assumed that it would be a “balance of powers, taking such forms as “rational debate” and “advice and consent.” But the kind of collective conversation it assures is a “power struggle” now involving “hate radio,” “fake news,” and purposeful “partisan gridlock.” Rather than a thoughtful quest among the people to determine what's best for all, the public conversation has been taken over by the quest for money. While citizens have turned away in disgust.
The answer is to facilitate everyone to take a “time out” to think together in a new spirit, where “We the People" face our biggest issues and determine thoughtful solutions that work for all. We the People need to provide responsible leadership to government.
Given a new set of social innovations, this shift in our national thinking process is not hard to facilitate. The innovations include:
- Choice-creating — is the essential creative, heartfelt form of conversation needed for “We the People” to come into being. It’s where people step back, face the difficult impossible=seeming issues creatively and collaboratively, and determine win/win solutions. It’s different than discussion, dialogue, deliberation, negotiation, decision-making, problem-solving, etc.
- Dynamic Facilitation — is a way to reliably evoke choice-creating in small groups. It uses charts Solutions, Data, Concerns, and Problem-statements to create a space where every comment can be heard and appreciated, no matter what its tone or intent. Using it we provide for people to speak authentically with feeling, yet where all feel safe and accepted, and where each comment brings the group forward toward unity.
- The Wisdom Council Process—is a way to evoke the spirit of choice-creating in large systems like this nation, a city or even the world. Using this approach the people come together as “We the People,” a thoughtful entity powerful enough to change the system. The process starts simply, just bringing together twelve to twenty-four random citizens every four months or so. They meet for just a few days. Using Dynamic Facilitation to spark choice-creating. the Wisdom Council reaches a shared perspective, which it presents to all the people in a way. Generally people support this perspective and begin talking about it in a new spirit of collaboration. In time this process facilitates the whole system of people to reach unity and clarity on difficult issues. And for a legitimate “We the People” to form.
These innovations are new, but proven. Along with communication technologies like the internet, broadcast media, and web-based conversation approaches, it is now possible to involve the whole country in one high quality "We the People" conversation.
1) The Conveners
First, we gather a core group of people interested in convening a national Wisdom Council process Ideally this group is well networked with access to funds, media and government leaders. These are people concerned about the big issues of society who understand how this Wise Democracy strategy works. At first they meet in a series of face-to-face dynamically-facilitated meetings, building shared understandings and a shared vision. Ultimately, they facility the all-inclusive “We the People” conversation.
2) The Strategy ... prospective
Step 1: Convene a short series of national Wisdom Councils on the issue.
- First, promote these events so there is widespread interest among citizens. Gain the backing of co-sponsors, media partners, and funders.
- Determine a “dragon issue”—a hot, ill-defined impossible-seeming problem that needs a breakthrough, like money-in-politics, immigration, government debt, the environment, or energy security.
- Hire a firm to randomly gather twelve to twenty-four random citizens -- a different group each Wisdom Council -- to address the issue.
- Convene a set of large live media events where each Wisdom Council presents its results to the nation and the world. After the presentation the local audience as well as the broadcast audience are invited to converse in small groups.
- Help community organizers, NGO’s and governments convene simultaneous local events where people hear a telecast of the Wisdom Council presentations, and visit in face-to-face conversation. These simultaneous large and small group gatherings can happen where people watch and talk about the results can happen in any number of formats.
- Provide a way that all people can report back their level of resonance with the Wisdom Council, in a way that all can see the extent of national resonance.
- Structure a way that people throughout the nation can continue talking about and developing these ideas.
- Provide for large scale meetings where government agencies and NGO’s can meet, consider and respond to the evolving “We the People” conclusions.
Step 2: Assure that the Wisdom Council Process is ongoing. This way a legitimate and powerful “We the People” can assume leadership. And as this happens it represents a shift in our system to Wise Democracy.
3) Assure that the Wisdom Council Process is Structured into Society
As people gain experience with the effectiveness of the Wisdom Council process we need to help local and regional organizations and officials to also use it. For instance, in Austria the elected legislators have taken the lead by amending their state constitutions to include the Wisdom Council. Ultimately, this process should be adopted into the U.S. Constitution as well. See the Wise Democracy Amendment, which lays out the safe, simple details of this deep structural change to our economics, politics, culture, etc.
We now know that the Wisdom Council is unique and it works. It is a realistic, accessible win/win strategy ... where all citizens come together, feel empowered, solve impossible-seeming issues, build the spirit of community, and restructure ourselves to become sustainable and fair. All this, just by adding a new conversation to what we already have.
Please help in any way you can.
Also see the video “How to reform democracy”