What change do we need to make government work for the people?

It’s time for We the People to work together

Introduction

We just had three back-to-back presidential elections in which the people demanded “change.” Yet just what change people want has never been defined in any detail. You hear “drain the swamp” and “get money out of politics” but what do these mean in practice? Who are we expecting to define the change? Who has enough motivation to change the system in the interest of the general public? Who has enough trust of a broad range of people to advance solutions?

The only answer I’ve been able to come up with for these questions is: the people (or if you prefer, We the People). Curiously, despite all the rhetoric about the country rarely being so divided, when it comes to fundamentals about how the government should work, there is much agreement. We (practically) all want “government of, for and by the people” and few believe we have it. And we’re motivated to work out how to get it.

So, in Topeka, Kansas we began meeting to discuss what change is needed. We’re folks from local Trump and Tea Party Facebook groups and folks from active anti-Trump Facebook groups. We’ve started from scratch, with no assumptions defining what “government of, for and by the people” means and working from there.

The Plan

If we’re meant to have “government of, for and by the people” it is going to mean the people (that means you) need to step up and make it happen. For this to work we need to tap into the collective wisdom of the US citizenry, not just a handful of well-intentioned people in the “heartland.” Folks on both sides of the “Trump divide” are anxious to work together on real solutions to make our government work (for us). It’s time to meet, build bridges across our divides, to brainstorm on what change is need.

Each group should review the latest consensus to see if there is anything they disagree with or would like to add to. Criticizing a position provides little value. The real challenge is to come up with a meaningful alternative positions and solutions. This is best done in small groups, not through 144-character tweets or social media comments, where different perspectives can be hashed through and a deeper contribution can be developed. Working face-to-face encourages compromise and will make quicker work with less strife as we try to merge different perspectives into a coherent platform.

After a group meets conclusions should be publised. This is likely to evolve but for the moment we have this Facebook group to help coordinate meetings and their input into the collective brainstorming effort: Change Conversation Now. Their contribution will then become fodder for other groups to discuss and build upon.

If ever you disagree with the direction the work is going in or if ever you feel the effort is not relevant to you, your responsibility to join or start a group and participate grows exponentially. This is brainstorming “of, for and by the people” (that, again, means you).

With the conversation changed from complaining about how awful things are working now to detailed plans for how to fix it, we can make quick work of the enormous challenge we’re faced with. Together we can come up with something that we can all be proud of, a government we can put our trust in.


Definitions

Government of, for and by the people

We start out with nothing more than the phrase popularized in Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address: government of, for and by the people. Just about all of us can rally behind this as a strong target. But what does it mean? While some of the below concepts apply exclusively to the federal government, most of them apply to government at all levels.

The People
Who are the “people” the government should be “for”? This should be simple, but has been complicated in recent years. The people are the “flesh and blood” citizens of the country. This means that if the government is going to help corporations, unions or nationals from other countries they always have to frame it in terms of how it will help flesh and blood human citizens. The people therefore includes all citizens, regardless of gender, race, religion, wealth, etc. etc.

For What?
What is the government “for”? We found the preamble of the Constitution to still hold value. Even concepts we came up with on our own match up well with preamble concepts: Life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, freedom and opportunity remain the reasonable expectations for people. As such these terms will come up often in future discussions.

Freedom: Government is an arbitrator when freedoms between different people or peoples come into conflict. It sets up rules that make our society and civilization function. From the Constitution this would include such concepts as justice and domestic tranquility.

Opportunity: Government is well-suited to develop and maintain certain elements of the “infrastructure” needed for commerce: interstate highways, currency, interstate commerce rules, etc. To turn these over to private enterprise would pose enormous risk since private enterprise is not responsible to the people (as the government is meant to be given our goal). Government is also needed to prevent certain abuses that a Capitalist society would tend toward (i.e. monopolies) that would limit opportunity for some. Finally, government is needed for the common defense, to make sure the freedom and opportunities offered by our government and in our society are not overturned by an outside force.

Role of the People
If this is government of, for and by the people, then we are the government, it is “of” and “by” us. It should not be “us” versus “them” when talking about our government, only “us.”

Since this is self-government we the people should be expected to participate. We need to give our legislative agents a clear indication of where we the people stand on issues. This is typically done through voting specific representatives into office, who naturally then should be working for us. We have an obligation to be versed well enough in the options to make good decisions in this role. Some of us will also need to step up and serve as representatives and other civil servants, at all levels.

When the government is not working for the people, we the people have our highest responsibility, to hold the government accountable and speak out whenever there is an abuse of the trust we put in the government. That’s what we’re doing in these meetings. The government has lost the faith of the people so now extraordinary action by the people is required to develop a fix.

There is another critically important side on this issue: The system must provide people a way to serve these roles. That means, for example, in elections we need real options, not just a choice between bad and worse, in order for elections to be used to communicate the viewpoint of the diverse population. As such, the current system should bear some responsibility for demotivating participation. Same thing with accountability, there needs to be an effective system in place by which we the people can express grievances. Senators scared of town halls and flooding their offices with calls that aren’t tallied aren’t practical channels for communicating with our representatives.

Government policy making

How should the government be making decisions during policy making (Legislative Branch)? This builds off the notion that the government should be operating for “the people.” There is a general consensus that the current government model leads to decisions heavily influenced by the desires of and information from wealthy interests. Without much discussion we agreed that money must be removed from politics, which alone would make the government more responsive to the people (our primary aim).

We highlighted these driving factors in decision making:
1) General welfare or common good (not necessarily majority opinion)
2) National security
3) Does the government have the authority to make the decision
4) Make sure the decision does not violate anyone’s rights

We raised a guiding principle for the citizens as well as the government: if you want tolerance and respect for your beliefs, views and lifestyle you need to give tolerance and respect for others. AND (critically) if you give tolerance and respect and are not getting it in return there should be a way for you to raise those concerns and expect a response.

We considered two main theoretical models:
1) The people vote for people they trust to make decisions on any issues that might come up
2) The people vote on representatives but also keep themselves informed on issues the representative may have to vote on so they can provide constructive input. This concepts becomes more practical the more local the government. But even at the local level we thought it might be too much to expect everyone to be expert in all issues that might need to be resolved.

We ran out of time to discuss just how either of these might work in pracitce (media and education tend to come up in any discussions about an informed citizenry).

To make our federal representatives more accountable an idea was floated to limit the size of House of Representatives districts to 50,000 people (right now it is around 750,000) and deny them an office in DC. They would be required to work in their home district, working with their other colleagues remotely only. There was little resistance to this idea, but we did not work out the implications of the dramatically larger House of Representatives that would result.

Another idea raised was to require Congress to craft a statement for each bill they pass explaining just how the bill serves the common good, much like the statements made when the Supreme Court makes a decision.

Then we wondered how we could do better still. We highlighted two specific issues with the representative model:
1) If a representative is elected with 60% of the vote, who represents the other 40%? If the representative does not pursue the interest of the 60% without compromise, they would get replaced in the next election by someone who would. The 40% are left feeling hopeless.
2) If I vote for a representative primarily based on social issues because that’s most important to me, I could be represented by someone with an opposite view on tax policy. 
Both these issues open up the system for significant abuse (we see examples of that abuse regularly).

To get around these issues we toyed around briefly with an idea to have representation by topic. This would involve a substantial change but if the details could be worked out there was a sense this would result in a more faithful representation and one that did not feel as “oppressive” as the current model. Now, if your “side” is not in power it can feel like you’re having policy pushed on you. This approach would practically require all sides to be considered. We might pick this up again later (because it would be dependent on other changes).

The American Dream

The definition we came to for the “American Dream” was: Anyone willing to work at it can make a comfortable living and provide for themselves and their family. That means someone else can’t cheat and/or steal to deprive someone else of their opportunity.

This is in contrast to a competing vision of the “American Dream”: Anyone can make it BIG with a lot of luck and/or the right connections and the willingness to do whatever it takes to get there. This is the “American Dream” our government and economy typically favors. Early days in the colonies illustrate the difference. Many of the original settlers came to North America with the dream of starting up their own farm, living off their own work, raising and supporting a family, and escaping the yoke of oppressive elite in Europe. Putting aside the fact that they benefited from land tragically taken from the native population, their dream matches the first definition. Others came to North America to establish vast plantations and political empires built on the labor of slaves. Their pursuit of the American Dream severely limited the opportunities of the slaves obviously, but also the opportunities for other colonists while seriously tarnishing the reputation of the new nation.

In modern terms, the contrast might be between the person who starts up a new company to provide real value to the community and to pursue his or her passions versus the person who exploits desperate labor or naive consumers to make enormous amounts of money. Our group decided in favor of the first definition of the American Dream.

We talked about the basics of providing the American Dream: that work should offer the means to provide sufficient food, water, shelter and health, all important if one is to continue to pursue opportunities and advancements. An economy that provides these on its own would significantly limit the need for government involvement in propping up the bottom. Education and chances to nurture one’s talents are also key to providing the American Dream.

We talked about the drive one has when they are either doing something they are passionate about or moving toward that. It is a compelling part of the “American Dream” but also an enormous prosperity engine for the country. It also speaks to the ideals of “Freedom” and “Individuality” that are so core to the spirit of the people of this country.

Economy

How can we judge whether the economy is working (for the people)? What are the goals the economy should be meeting? We defined the basic goals in an economy: to increase prosperity, improve competitiveness, drive innovation, and support the American Dream (being the Land of Opportunity) for all citizens. We talked about the enormous economic power of a person starting up a business out of passion and enthusiasm for what s/he was doing. In essence the American Dream is a compelling key to prosperity and competitiveness for the nation.

How does the current economy score? Some people are getting phenomenally wealthy, but most people are seeing their real wages (adjusted for inflation) staying flat or falling. And with global competition for jobs the prospects are grim for the future (until global standard of living comes into parity with the United States, which will take decades). Competition is possible in terms of low wages and low environmental standards, strong local market, or high education and infrastructure investment. Our current model does not facilitate investment in education or infrastructure. Our local market is weakening as the middle class shrinks. So we’re stuck competing in the crowded low wages and low environmental standards arena. That’s grim news.

The US economy is good at driving innovation, but what sort of innovation is it driving? New schemes to make money in the Stock Market (including using computers to analyze trends quicker than humans to make billions) are common. New ways to sell people more stuff are also quite common. It is not unusual for an inferior product to outsell a superior one because the inferior product is using more sophisticated marketing and advertising techniques. But the current free market is incapable of innovating the new antibiotics we need to keep up the fight against “superbugs.” It is tough to defend the record of innovation “for the people.”

Wages

We recognized that many government programs we have because of failures in the economy. Because people need to eat, have shelter, clothing and healthcare the government subsidizes wages (through government aid programs like food stamps) for companies unwilling or unable to pay enough to sustain their workforce. If we can get to a better place on wages, we can eliminate many government programs (with practically no resistance). With jobs easier to find, able-bodied workers will have no excuse not to get a job (most will be excited to do so).

We came up with two possibilities for what wages represent in an economy: 
1) an incentive to work and as such to contribute to the general prosperity, an incentive to do work others would not
2) a compensation for the value a person’s work provides to society.

The second of these opens up a series of questions about how the value to society is determined. Right now if you ask someone why is the CEO worth hundreds of times more than a teacher, the answer is because the free market pays it. But is it an accurate representation of what is most important to us, our society and our future? Or is it because CEO salaries are determined by the board of directors at companies which are made up mostly of other CEOs? What could be a system to provide a valuation that matches more what “We the People” value most? And would that be consistent with our goals for the economy.

We talked about how the current system disincentivizes work on both ends of the wealth scale. Some are born so wealthy they don’t need to work, their money works for them. For others the path to the American Dream seems so hopeless, the will to work is beaten out of them. Hope in the future is a compelling motivator for work, without it it is tough to do jobs that are pretty miserable to begin with. In both scales potential value is lost to the country.

We were not able to consider the approach to jobs and wages proposed by some in government: a strong government compelling people to accept lower wages, poor working environments, degrading environment and higher prices for goods, while increasing necessarily support for the bottom to prevent social collapse. This is something like the current Chinese model. It is not consistent with “government of, for and by the people.”

With the above goals for the economy firmly in mind, we took a closer look at wages. Right now they are based on the free labor market. More people able and willing (and often desperate) to do a job pushes the wage down (sometimes below what is needed for a person to survive). The more people desperate for work, the lower the wage. The extra profits gained from greater desperation increases the return investors earn for the company (so while the poor get poorer, the rich get richer). Automation and productivity enhancements have pushed down the number of jobs, while the global labor market has dramatically increased the supply. There are new consumers created in new global locations but at their wages they are consuming much less than the consumers lost in places like the US. And it is uncertain how much more consumption the world can sustain (already rubbish heaps in India are collapsing, killing people). The prospects are bleak. Wages look likely to continue to slide until the standard of living the US matches that of the lowest paid workers in the world. This model obviously does not match the goals for the economy.

The idea behind the labor market is to channel people into jobs with not enough interest otherwise. In practice however it is used as a justification for some people to take enormous amounts of money for themselves. The challenge then is to come up with a more reliable system to value work and encourage people into certain jobs. Our group was unable to come up with any ideas.

Instead we questioned whether valuing work really supports the goals we have for the economy. Let’s say we had an education system and other support “infrastructure” in place to help everyone pursue their career passions. Some people naturally would be disappointed that their passion is not something that anyone is willing to pay for. They would need support directing their passion productively. Instead of a system that encouraged companies to depress people (making them more desperate and less confident in looking for work, thus driving down wages), we could have a system that benefited from the enthusiasm people have when doing something they love or working toward a point where they can do what they love.

A though exercise for you: If there are two jobs open, one boring and monotonous where you’re on your feet all day, the other makes use of your developed talents and is more interesting to you… how much would you pay the other person competing for the two jobs (in this hypothetical scenario) to get the more interesting job? If you’d pay even $1, then why is it the other job gets paid less if our goal is to motivate you to work? As we’ve said, there is enormous prosperity potential in people pursuing their passions and interests.


Issues

Issues that prevent government of, for and by the people

Money’s influence in politics topped the list. The sense is that the government works for the wealthy, not the people. Influence is gained through funding campaigns, of course. But corporate and wealthy individuals’ money also finances think tanks which not only provides our representatives the information they use to make policy but also often directly write the legislation. Money is also used for armies of lobbyists who put enormous pressure on government. And our news medias have their own agenda, typically tied to profits and corporate interests. Politician also receive big money for speeches and other more obvious bribes.

Next we looked at the party system. Parties are not stipulated by the Constitution yet they have become the core of how our government works (or doesn’t work). We’ve all seen how they limit the choices at election day (particularly for President, but they persist throughout) since 3rd party candidates have little chance. The parties also represent top-down power, where ideas and positions are passed from national committees instead of bubbling up from the people. There’s also the “group think” aspect of parties to be concerned about. In a group the tendency is to avoid objection (breaking party cohesion) so if someone can represent a viewpoint as common or popular in the group, people will suppress their reservations to it. This allows some rather extreme positions to take hold throughout the party structure. The parties also tend to make members of the party more extreme in general, tearing the country into different groups instead of helping us get along. It is tough for members now of “competing” parties to get along just socially, especially given the fact that each lives in a different reality from the other. The parties, as we’ve seen, also make it very difficult to govern. They create artificial gridlock and inflexibility.

We took a look also at gerrymandering. The principle is to draw out districts so you have just enough people on your side to guarantee a win while leaving enough from the other side so they are not counted in another district. It exploits a couple of issues that I raise often: 1) one person represents millions of people and 2) I am represented on all issues my just one person. Neither case seems like true representation to me. If 60% of a district votes for a candidate then who represents the other 40%? If the representative does not pursue the interest of the 60% completely then they will find someone who does. It assumes that people in a geographic area are homogenous, which opens things up for abuse. Gerrymandering did not create this situation, nor would correctly drawn districts (once we figure out what correctly means) resolve these issues. Anyway it is certainly true that politicians choosing their voters (instead of voters choosing their politicians) is a really bad look.

We talked about engagement and voter turnout. We talked about opportunity, making sure people had a real chance to vote without work obligations blocking it. We toyed around with moving voting to July 4, while people are off already and in a patriotic mood. We talked about how the limited options produced by the party system discourages voting (hard to get excited voting between “bad” and “worse”). A toxic political environment (produced by dueling and controlling parties) also discourage candidates and so limits options of voting day. The above mentioned case where in many districts the outcome is determined by the demographics and those in the minority have no real chance of being heard also discourages.

We talked about just what sort of engagement makes sense. In order to be effective participants voters need to be well-informed on the candidates and the issues. Otherwise they are prone to be manipulated. But, as mentioned above, informing the voters is heavily influenced by money. And many people are busy with their lives and have specializations elsewhere and so can’t or are not inclined to spend hours becoming informed to make a solid decision in their own interest (it also limits national productivity). Most people manage to vote every 4 years, much fewer people manage it 1–2 times a year when elections arise. There is a bit of voter fatigue that happens and even with the 4-year cycle few people are fully informed.

We discussed how perhaps lack of engagement may not be the main issue, but complacency and giving up hope that their voice matters. Theoretically a system should be possible where if a person is content with how things are going they need not be involved. But the people should be (should have the power to and should have the expectation to be) the check on the power of the government or any individual in government, to make sure the government always works for us (the people). We wondered just how well served we would be by requiring voting by all citizens if many of them could not be bothered and lack the skills to evaluate all the issues involved. Regardless of the level of engagement expected from people we highlighted the need for better education to explain the power available to and expected from people.

There was little interest in blaming the voters for lack of engagement… we do not support the “deplorable voters” suggestion. The above indicates there are a number of systemic issues that discourage voting.

After the election there is little to no representation outside of the dominating party (which often “wins” with just 30% of the eligible voters, the plurality of voters choosing “none of the above). As the pendulum swings from one extreme to the other each side is anxious to push through their agenda, force it upon us without discussion, compromise or consideration for its impact on the entire population. You often hear “this isn’t good legislation but it is the best we can do.” They often also try to put through changes to the political apparatus that help secure their win in the future. These are all part of the game of politics, but it does not lead to good representation of the entire population.

Issues that prevent access to the American Dream

Jobs and wages continued to be at the focus of this discussion. We brainstormed what the issues were that prevented wages from keeping up with inflation, the inconsistent availability of good jobs and the shortage of qualified workers in some areas. As an aside we also discussed how odd it is that there not being enough work to do should be such a big problem.

On the topic of wages we discussed the labor market, driven by supply and demand principles common to Capitalism. We spent some time understanding how much power the wealthy minority have had over supply. They campaigned heavily in Europe to drive migration to the US in the early industrial period to drive down costs. Automation pushed more and more people out of skilled labor pools (with fewer people that could demand higher wages) into unskilled labor pools. The benefits of automation were enjoyed heavily by the wealthy. Although prices went down for consumers, wages were also pushed down because of an increasing unskilled labor pool (many so desperate they sent their young kids to work). More recently, while using political donations to advance nationalist and patriotic demands for citizens to tolerate a government putting themselves and the wealthy ahead of the people, capitalists have shopped a global labor market for cheap labor and to put pressure on governments and states to compete for their investment. Typically this competition takes the form of who could provide the lowest wages (people so desperate to accept the lowest standard of living, plus highest state government subsidies to cover basic living expenses), lowest taxes (least requirements to pay for benefits received) and most lax environmental standards (least requirements to pay for resources used and impact on area). With a labor market favoring the wealthy so heavily, putting so much power in their hands, we saw the prospects for jobs and wages to be grim. There is little in the mechanics of the current free market to increase wages in the US until they come into parity with wages worldwide.

Demand was also at the heart of our discussion on availability of good jobs. As higher wage jobs are being replaced globally either by automation or lower wage earners abroad the total availability of consumer funds that drive demand for products, which drives new jobs, is shrinking. To drive more jobs in the current economy we’d need more consumption, and policies that drive consumption. There were some concerns that constantly increasing consumption globally could have a negative impact on the environment and standard of living.

Ironically alongside a shortage of jobs is the shortage of workers in some fields. Education does not seem to be fulfilling its requirements to prepare people for the jobs that are available. While clearly the most apparent, education is not the only factor failing to match people to jobs. Weeding through resumes from hundreds of candidates for a single job pushes hiring managers to limit candidates on issues largely unrelated to the job. Our current recruitment process seems to put too much emphasis on a person’s ability to market (through resume writing and only activity) and sell themselves, even if these skills are not required for the job. To simplify things often connections to decision makers bypass any attempt to evaluate qualifications since so often training is part of the new job anyway. By failing to match people to good jobs we lose a lot of economic potential.

Often the best opportunities go to those who can create them (with their own independent wealth) or are connected to someone who can get things started. In short, opportunity is available but more opportunities and better opportunities are limited to those who are already well off. Unsurprisingly then the rich get richer and the poor tend to get poorer, an increasing share of the pie goes to smaller population.

We also discussed how the current approach discourages work at both the high and low wealth levels. Some people are born into sufficient wealth they don’t have to work, their money works for them. This seems inconsistent with the goals we worked out last time for the economy. Meanwhile some people at the low end have the will to work beat out of them, with no prospects at all to “make a living” from the job market. While personal responsibility is always important, putting then entire blame on the individual masks systemic issues which we should be addressing if we want to achieve the goals of prosperity and competitiveness from the economy.

We found easy agreement that the current collaboration between Capitalism and the government is not working for the people. Capital has corrupted government so that its policies are not “for the people.” The alternative of giving free reign to Capitalism did not have much appeal either, since there is so much incentive in the system to manipulate consumers and labor. All consumers and employees would need to be technical experts on what they buy (for example, be able to test the qualify of milk, etc) to avoid being swindled. Where do most people today receive information about the products they buy? From the marketing efforts of those selling the products, typically. This seems out of reach for most people. Furthermore we would have to become very sophisticated consumers to counter the tendency for monopolies to form without government support.

And there was not much interest in a strong government response to the jobs and wages issue, like what one sees in China where the government puts pressure on the people to accept a lower standard of living and provides a limited safety net at the cost of freedom. This may mean we have to take a look at the mechanics of the free market in order to keep the government from needing to become stronger in response to the job and wages issue (obviously if we want to shrink the government this becomes an even higher priority).

We wondered if we should apply the same standard to the economy as we are attempting to do for politics: that it be of, for and by the people. Right now most decisions in our economy (how limited human and natural resources are used) are made by a tiny minority of people who control the vast majority of capital. It can be said to be “democratic” because in theory capitalists make decisions based on what “we the people” want to buy. In practice however there is much more energy put into new ways to sell and market products that provide little value to people (anyone else tired of all the constant advertising messages?) and new ways to drive stock prices up than innovating news ways to actually meet consumer needs (instead they recycle new ideas and package them as new). We pay for the extra marketing and advertising expenses they incur trying to convince us we need their products and when they are successful a high premium on the cost of the product in the form of profits to them. In the current implementation of Capitalism money needs to be pooled in order to advance big investments, that is the justification for this premium, in addition to serving as a “reward” for taking the risk. It is unclear whether we (the people) are getting good value from the power and trust we place in them to make decisions for us. And the cost of encouraging the wealthy to act in the public interest keeps getting higher. This may be an area where we need to try to make more sense of what we need and how/if things are working now.


Alternatives

We’ve scratched the surface on alternative solutions to address the above issues. We’ve been evaluating each solution on its impact in several areas (from 0 — no impact to 5 — most impact).

Options evaluated

So far we did some initial evaluation on these options (obviously many of these can be combined):

1. Proportional representation
Vote for a party. The percentage of votes the party gets determines how many from their list are put into office. This would not be practical with states and would obliterate the concept of local representation.

2. Single transferable vote
Voters can rank the candidates by order of preference. If the first candidate does no do well, your vote transfers to your second choice. This is expected to open up the door for new parties since voting for a 3rd party would no longer be a throw away (protest) vote.

3. Approval voting
Voters mark any they like. Candidate with the highest approval wins.

4. Eliminate parties
Ban political parties, candidates run as themselves

5. Limit US Representatives to 50,000 districts
Each House of Representative would be limited to 50,000 people, house size would increase to accommodate. Representatives would also be required to stay local to constituents and work with colleagues in other districts remotely.

6. More power to states
Acknowledging that representation is not working on a large scale.

7. Forbid campaign advertising
There would be profile posted on a public website and there would be public debates. This would level the playing field and remove influence from money.

8. Civics in school
Teach young people about their role in society / government. Teach them the point of compromise. Teach them critical thinking.

9. Representation by issue
This would be a profound change to how representation works. Instead of a fixed body of representation on all issues, citizens would initiate a “reconsideration” of an existing policy and choose a representative. Then other sides would get their representative. It would work something like law courts work. Lots of details would need to be worked out, including how to distribute the “political capital” evenly so citizens have the power to initiate government.

Areas evaluated

You can find more detail on these areas above, in the discussion of issues.

A. Influence of money
Money influences elections and influences politicians once in office.

B. Group think within parties
The ideas generated within the party become disconnected from the interests of the people they are meant to represent.

C. Party gridlock and extremist thinking
As the parties become more extreme in their thinking it becomes more difficult for anything to get done

D. Poor ideological grouping
1 person represents millions of diverse people, leaving many people ideologically unrepresented

E. Representation across multiple issues
1 person representing me on all issues, meaning on many issues I’m poorly represented

F. Engagement opportunity
Do voters have an opportunity engage with their representatives? Is their voice heard or is this top-down government?

G. Voting options
Often today it feels like our choices are “bad” or “worse”… we need more better options.

H. Majority anxiety
People are so anxious about getting or losing majority that when in power they are ruthless in imposing their agenda, uninterested in compromise or discussion, and anxious to impose electoral changes that makes their “majority” prospects better.

I. People have tools, capacity and motivation
Do voters have what they need to perform their responsibilities? Do they have enough access to good information? Are the expectations reasonable?

Easy
And lastly we evaluated how easily the solution could be implement (0 — being very difficult, 5 — relatively easy).

Call to action

Do you disagree with anything we’ve said so far? If so it is critical that you get involved in a meeting to be able to provide your input. We’re going to be building on top of principles from each meeting so if we have garbage in one meeting it will only get worse. Unless you step up.

Need help finding or setting up a group? Try posting to Change Conversation Now. Meetings are how we can best manage detailed brainstorming of issues important to us all.

We can do this. We need to do this.

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