Difference between revisions of "Promotion/Movie/Script"

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(Filled out some on direct democracy)
(Replaced previous draft with the beginnings of a new, first-person one)
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Following is a draft of the script for a promotional movie about [[collaborative governance]]. Each paragraph is followed by a bullet that describes the image that will be shown as that paragraph is read.
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Following is a draft of the script for a promotional movie about [[collaborative governance]]. Each paragraph is intended to be read by a different individual.
 
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Democracy, as defined by Abraham Lincoln, is government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
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I used to believe I was free because I live in a democracy and have a vote. But now I understand that I have no real political freedom.
* image of Abraham Lincoln delivering the Gettysburg Address
 
  
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My representatives vote on issues every day, and yet I can only vote one time every year or two.
  
Government '''of''' the people means that regular citizens make up the government. And yet in modern democracies, very frequently it is the most wealthy, connected, and powerful who are able to attain office.
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When I do vote, I can choose between two strangers, neither of whom really holds my point of view.
*images of Sonia Gandhi ($18.66 billion), Silvio Berlusconi ($6.5 billion), Vladimir Putin ($40 billion), Michael Bloomberg ($18.1 billion)
 
* reference: http://exploredia.com/richest-politicians-in-the-world/ and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_richest_American_politicians
 
Further, we often see actual dynasties of government leaders, where several individuals from the same family hold high offices.
 
* images of John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Edward Kennedy, Patrick Kennedy, Prescott Bush, George HW Bush, Geowge W Bush, Jeb Bush
 
  
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These politicians fight like crazy for my vote, but they don't care anything about me: they just want to get enough votes to get into power so they can start enjoying the trappings of power.
  
Government '''by''' the people means that the citizens are the ones who make the decisions. But beyond the act of voting, citizens usually have no say in how government decisions are made. Instead, it is influential lobbyists and powerful corporate interests who have sway over the decisions of policy makers.
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The politician who has the greatest power-lust is often the one that wins. They are the ones who will do anything to get elected, so they have a greater chance of getting into office. This doesn't mean they're the most qualified to rule over me.
* image of
 
  
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And the main thing they do to get elected is to solicit contributions from powerful organizations and wealthy people. In exchange, they offer these people and organizations access. This is no secret: the press freely reports on fundraising events, and how politicians sell access to anyone who is willing to pay.
  
Government '''for''' the people means that the actions of the government are in the interests of the citizens. However in every branch of government, we very often see the government passing laws which suit special interests at the expense of the general citizenry.
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...still in progress: feel free to help!
* image of
 
 
 
 
 
How is it that even our most advanced democracies fail these basic tests of governance? The answer is that representative democracy consistently fails to be anything like true democracy. In the next few minutes, we will explore why representative democracy fails and what we can do about it.
 
* image of
 
 
 
 
 
Ideally, representative democracy is a system where the citizens elect a few of their number to act as their proxy in government. Those representatives are supposed to act on behalf of the people: to faithfully represent their interests in government.
 
* image of
 
 
 
 
 
In most democracies, the entire extent of citizen participation entails going to a voting booth once every year or several years and casting a vote for a few politicians or political parties. After that five-minute process, the citizen's job is done, and the rest of governance is left to the politician or party who gets the most votes.
 
* image of a voting booth
 
 
 
 
 
One of the first problems with this process is that very rarely does one politician or party represent any individual's views. Frequently people talk of voting for the "lesser of two evils."
 
* image of two candidates on a ballot
 
 
 
 
 
Because elections are competitive, politicians feel a need to distinguish themselves from each other by disagreeing over particular hot-button issues that they feel they can use to mobilize voters. This creates two big problems. First, it means that there is very little desire by politicians to come to an agreement over important issues. The end result is that these big issues never get resolved in any meaningful way.
 
* image of "pro-choice" and "pro-life" signs
 
 
 
 
 
Second, it means that all political debate is collapsed into these few issues, meaning that many, many other issues get completely ignored. When all the politicians for one office hold the same view on one particular issue, then you really have no say at all in that issue. If you disagree with the politicians, you are simply disenfranchised from governance on that issue.
 
* image of
 
 
 
 
 
Apart from the issues, there are deep-rooted problems with the fundamental nature of representation. When we elect someone to office, we give them a huge amount of power. There is tremendous temptation for those politicians to abuse that power for personal gain.
 
* image of John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton with quote "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
 
 
 
 
 
In fact, the process of elections greatly favors the corrupt politician. Candidates who can raise more money and acquire more influence have a tremendous advantage in an election. It is generally understood that politicians are frequently presented with money from businesses and other powerful interests in exchange for political favor. Even in allegedly open democracies, political access is blatantly sold in the form of fundraising events. This culture of access and influence leads to a government that serves the interests of the few: the complete opposite of government for the people.
 
* image of a white-tie fundraising dinner
 
 
 
 
 
Even if we imagine that there is no corruption or undue influence in representative democracy, there are also flaws with the basic idea of putting a few individuals in charge. First, an executive leader such as a president is a single point of failure. If that person dies or is incapacitated, the entire government is weakened.
 
* image of
 
 
 
 
 
Further, the people we elect to office are not always the best suited to make decisions. Frequently they attain office because they are the most politically savvy or the most charismatic... or the most power hungry. This does not mean that they are going to make good decisions about issues that are technically complex or socially profound.
 
* image of
 
 
 
 
 
In fact, most of the decisions that elected representatives make are deliberately near-sighted. If they want to stay in office, they must constantly be thinking of reelection. So their thinking is always colored by the need to have people admire them at the time of the next election. This means they are always focused on producing results that are immediately obvious, even though some of the most important decisions in society often require a very long-term view of the issues.
 
* image of
 
 
 
 
 
So those are some of the problems with representative democracy. Chances are, none of this is really new to you: it is all plainly evident just by paying attention to the news. But what can be done about it? The only choice we ever seem to have is to vote for the existing politicians or to vote for new ones. But new politicians don't fix any of these issues. These problems are systemic, not political.
 
* image of
 
 
 
 
 
From time to time, we try to get the people more involved in representative democracy. For example, politicians hold "town hall meetings" which are presented as open venues for the public to give input into decision-making. We even see electronic forms of this process now, where citizens can submit input through various kinds of websites. But in the end, these venues are fundamentally the same as a lord granting an audience to the peasants. The people can give input, but it is entirely up to the politician to decide if he or she wants to accept that input.
 
* image of a town hall meeting, with a shouting crowd and a smug politician
 
 
 
 
 
We can have referendums on issues, where the people get to vote directly on a singular, important resolution. However, a referendum is nothing like real direct democracy because it can only ever focus on a tiny fraction of what government decides on. A referendum gives people the choice to vote yes or no on a bill which has already been written. This is not the people participating in governance, but just a binding poll on a single bill.
 
* image of
 
 
 
 
 
But what about pure, direct democracy; is that any better? Traditionally, direct democracy has been impossible in any but the smallest communities. In larger groups, it simply isn't practical to get everyone together to vote on every issue. Nor can everyone be expected to track every issue that every government has to decide on.
 
* image of
 
 
 
 
 
As a result, like with referendums, direct democracy tends to degrade into demagoguery and mob rule. That is, only the most controversial, high-profile topics are debated, and those are decided by the whims of the mob or of demagogues who can sway the mob. This isn't as much like the promise of democracy as it is like barely-contained anarchy.
 
* image of
 
 
 
 
 
But these problems with direct democracy all stem from fundamentally technical limitations. It is impossible to get everyone into one room to decide on every issue, so we have to chose the allegedly most important issues, and in that choosing we fall victim to demagoguery. But what if we had the mechanism to allow everyone to participate every issue, as they pleased, at any time?
 
*image of
 
 
 
Starting in the twenty first century, humanity has begun to have access to powerful tools that allow individuals to work together in dynamic and far-reaching ways. We call these tools "Web 2.0" and "collaborative environments" and "social media." These tools enable us to work together regardless or where or when we choose to participate.
 
*image of
 
 
 
 
 
The most popular of these tools is Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit. The content of Wikipedia has been contributed by tens of thousands of authors; each adding to the project as they can. While it is certainly not perfect, Wikipedia is an enormously helpful resource, which has been used by hundreds of millions of people.
 
* image of Wikipedia, perhaps with a focus on the Edit button
 
 
 
 
 
Wikipedia provides a great example of how anyone can contribute to the common good. If a collaborative tool can be so useful in creating an encyclopedia, then why do we still have to rely on representatives for our governance?
 
* image of
 
 
 
 
 
Well, it is true that governance is much more complicated than an encyclopedia. The purpose of Wikipedia is to be descriptive, while the purpose of government is to be prescriptive. That is, Wikipedia explains things, while governments make laws and enforce them. The decisions that governments make are often controversial and prone to significant political conflict.
 
* image of
 
 
 
 
 
How does government solve the conflicts that we see today? Usually it is either by overruling one side in favor of another, or sometimes it is through compromise.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Continue with ideas from [[collaborative governance]] and some from [[Presentation/ParticipationCamp09]] (particularly about direct democracy).
 
 
 
 
 
Conclude with "join us!" and "metagovernment.org."
 

Revision as of 18:57, 11 October 2011

Following is a draft of the script for a promotional movie about collaborative governance. Each paragraph is intended to be read by a different individual.



I used to believe I was free because I live in a democracy and have a vote. But now I understand that I have no real political freedom.

My representatives vote on issues every day, and yet I can only vote one time every year or two.

When I do vote, I can choose between two strangers, neither of whom really holds my point of view.

These politicians fight like crazy for my vote, but they don't care anything about me: they just want to get enough votes to get into power so they can start enjoying the trappings of power.

The politician who has the greatest power-lust is often the one that wins. They are the ones who will do anything to get elected, so they have a greater chance of getting into office. This doesn't mean they're the most qualified to rule over me.

And the main thing they do to get elected is to solicit contributions from powerful organizations and wealthy people. In exchange, they offer these people and organizations access. This is no secret: the press freely reports on fundraising events, and how politicians sell access to anyone who is willing to pay.

...still in progress: feel free to help!