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Sender: William Schenken
Subject: Re: An Integral Transpartisan Alliance - Action Proposal
Date: Wed, Apr 9, 2014
Msg: 100907


Thanks for the great conversation and the amazing contributions you are making. I'm not sure words could ever describe the gratitude I have for intention for a more humane world represented in all of the projects I have been learning about. I can see already that despite the substantial amount of shared understanding, there is great diversity of experience and practice areas. The diversity is both exciting and daunting.

At the risk of premature idea sharing and with great humility, I would like to share my outline for understanding the current situation and how I think we catalyze this growing sense of the need to do politics better. I tried to keep the following brief for accessibility, so understand I know that many statements below represent opinions I do not expect everyone to share and the explanations are *thin*.


I believe we need a new institution separate from local/state/federal governments, political parties, media and business to discuss, understand and ultimately give policy direction to politicians. There are several motivations for this that I'll leave out here. The most basic is that our competitive political-economic system is failing us. Part of the failure is its inability to evolve itself to adapt to the evolving political-economic reality.

I propose that the most effective route to improving our system of governance is a citizen driven effort to create a new institution in our civic lives. This new institution would engender a scientific method to policy making while honoring our democratic ideals. The goal is not to agree on everything but to create a space where well intentioned citizens can have productive dialog to learn and ultimately understand where there is broad agreement. While I believe it should have the goal of 100% inclusivity within a couple generations, I also believe it must start with an intellectual rigor that will engage the brightest minds to the exclusion of some and it must be grounded in the principles of dialog and deliberation which will dissuade those in 'combat mode'.

I believe if we can develop new institutions that articulate where there is broad agreement and create new arenas of broad agreement, it will transform the role of politicians to something narrower where their main task is to enact the policy that citizens have already articulated. Politicians would then focus on legal technicalities, other details and making compromises where needed. ( I have a lot more to say about that! But not now.)

*Plan Outline*

1. The effect of local actions are limited when working against national and international drivers

-For example, the social venture project in Michigan is great work and will no doubt create positive changes. The changes though will do little to counter the larger structural force of the economy that is burying people in poverty faster than we can help them dig out due to national and international economic policies, productivity gains, accumulations of capital, technology, education gaps, etc.

2. Several systems (economic, transportation, energy, etc) need to be coordinated on a state/national/international level to achieve social/environmental justice and building consensus on the national level is difficult in current climate.

-Our politics are broken due to a series of factors including money-in-politiics, corporate media, corruption, etc. It's not that just that people disagree, some actors actively manipulate the political system to keep public consensus from implementation while working against political consensus forming at all.

3. We can develop new institutions at the local level with greater ease... local means county/city level here.

-These "new institutions" should be on a county scale, inclusive and foster the following activities: citizen learning about the practice of dialog and policy, citizen engagement on policy and ultimately policy deliberation to create consensus where possible. These institutions are where we develop a new culture of collaboration through practice and research, etc.

4. Eventually we would scale those system to the national level (many years, maybe decades, probably generations)

5. To start, we could have co-opetition between local models.

-This is something sparked from these conversations and all of the great approaches already working. What if we ran several experiments in different areas to see which models are the most effective with the hope that all of the models will eventually converge to something similar like chambers of commerce? Each chamber is independent and you still know what to expect from one.

6. To start, we establish a shell organization to develop a shared vision of basic principals so the local networks have a basis for interfacing later.

-At first, this group would be a support group for local efforts. eventually, it would be an arbiter of whether local organizations were operating by the basic principals to ensure that if a local organization becomes dysfunctional, it can't disrupt the larger system.

7. Then we encourage to start these new institutions at the local level. We could either develop a single model or a few for local groups to choose from. The goal is to essentially franchise the process to make it easy for communities to start their own.

8. End game: a network of local organizations developing policy on local issues.

-Eventually, institutions would form for every level of government to deal with policy at that level (regional, state, multi-state, national and some day global). The goal is to avoid trying to make national policy in a local organization because the policy recommendation from a local organization will not be meaningful to a national audience and the local organization would have difficulty accessing the resources necessary to understand national policy. Each level would be actively communicating with the other levels so that national initiatives influence local policy and local desires influence national policy.

I call this plan the Corporation for Public Policy and think of it like the Corporation for Public Television. There are many many intricacies to all of this with respect to how to boot strap this to a point where it influences policies, to revenue models and preventing the Corporation from Public Policy from becoming tyrannical itself. For now, I just wanted to introduce the idea and see if it resonated with anyone else. Please feel free to contact me with feedback or questions.


Bill Schenken


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