Why should Congressman tap lobbyists and consultants when they can tap the power of the crowd?
Particularly in State legislatures, there are so many issues and specialty areas, how can state legislators possibly be educated enough on very specific bills to make informed decisions? The answer is they are not. So, they rely on lobbyists, hire consultants, or talk with special interests to inform them and tell them about the issues. Then the legislators form a stance and make their decisions. But what if this could be done…at least in part, by tapping the wisdom of the crowd? What if your state legislator could engage his or her constituents in a two-way dialogue? Once the elected official opens the door for real public input, knowledgeable citizens can have a real chance of influencing policy. Instead of hiring an insider lobbyist like Nancy Pelosi, Congressmen would take into account the collective opinion of their constituents.
Want to influence policy in your town or state? Get started.
While Obama’s followers now have the opportunity to influence policy using new, citizen-driven agendas at sites that aim to crowdsource policy and increase citizen participation in governance, conservatives now have the same opportunity with the launch of Rebuildtheparty.com. Rebuildtheparty applies the crowdsourcing approach to government 2.0, allowing people to pitch and suggest ideas for the Republican party. The top two leading voter ideas are “Enacting the Fair Tax Plan” and “Reach out to Ron Paul and the Campaign for Freedom.” The site is a network of grassroots activists for the Republic party, and it already has 6 Republican party officials who have endorsed their 10 point action plan to strengthen the republican party (including: Saul Anuzis, Michigan GOP Chairman; Ken Blackwell,Former Ohio Secretary of State; Mike Duncan,Current RNC Chairman;Chip Saltsman, Former TN GOP Chairman; and Michael Steele, GOPAC Chairman).
Check it out at: http://www.Rebuildtheparty.com.
Image courtesy of cforjustice.org
Representative democracy, what we have in the U.S., is not participatory because it tends to limit citizen participation to voting, leaving actual governance to politicians. But the convergence of technology and the web has created the ability for individual citizens to have a direct voice in the policies that shape their lives.
Participatory democracy, sometimes called “direct democracy,” is a process emphasizing the broad participation (decision making) of constituents in the direction and operation of political systems. Participatory democracy strives to create opportunities for all members of a political group to make meaningful contributions to decision-making, and seeks to broaden the range of people who have access to such opportunities. Because so much information must be gathered for the overall decision-making process to succeed, technology provides important forces leading to the type of empowerment needed for participatory models, especially those technological tools that enable community narratives and correspond to the accretion of knowledge. While no one has yet proved that such a style can work on the national level, Obama’s new administration may be the first to really give it a shot.
Our goal to “bring the power to the people” also literally comes from the etymological roots of “democracy,” which imply that any democracy would rely on the participation of its citizens (the Greek demos and kratos combine to suggest that “the people are in power“). This also entails the promotion of Participatory politics, our goal being to create a political system that will allow citizens to participate in politics, as much as possible in a face-to-face manner. Through the PolicyPitch platform, this means local policy, regional advocacy, and community and neighborhood changes.
Most of the above from our friends at Wikipedia.
Jeff Howe, author of Crowdsourcing, describes how the wisdom of the crowd is driving the future of business. We think the same paradigm applies to the future of political advocacy.