Friday, July 11, 2014

A Modern Political Party: Redux

Democracy is in dire need of an upgrade. It is too old, too rigid, and too convoluted. It no longer serves its intended purpose and has fallen prey to rampant corruption. Furthermore, political parties are unwilling to address these problems and it's no wonder: they are the ones who benefit the most (at our expense) from their existence.

If we can't count on the current crop of political parties to repair the system and start representing us, who can we count on?

The answer is no one. The time has come for us to represent ourselves.

What we need is a political party made by the people to serve the people's interests. More importantly, we must ensure that this party is incorruptible and committed to resolving issues that affect the many instead of the few.

I tried describing what such a party might resemble in this post but I was too naive and inexperienced to tackle the topic adequately. So I put my work aside and vowed to return to it at a later date.

As I was cleaning out my computer few days ago, I stumbled onto an unfinished draft I had been working on shortly before taking a break from political writing. To my surprise, many of the ideas I proposed in this draft aligned almost perfectly with the ideas of several authors and groups I've had the pleasure of connecting with in recent months.

So I dusted my unfinished draft off, gave it a polish, and posted it below with commentary. Italicized quotes are from the draft while all other quotations have been attributed to their sources.

Without further ado, meet the NNP, my imaginary political party.

NNP stands for "No Name Party" or "Ninety-Nine Percenters." See what I did there?

Who is the NNP?
We are those without representation, without voice, and without choice. We are the victims of corrupt governments and greedy corporations. We are the inheritors of a planet in peril and an uncertain future. The time for waiting on hollow promises and rhetoric has passed. We are the NNP and we don't demand change: we make it happen. 
Who knew I had a flare for political propaganda?

Mission statement:
The NNP’s mission is simple: to repair our nation’s dysfunctional political system by eliminating corruption, facilitating public participation, and using evidence to build policies that benefit the Greater Good. The NNP’s ultimate goal is to establish a collaborative democracy where citizens represent themselves and influence political discourse directly instead of through elected representatives.
The advantages of a "collaborative democracy" are outlined in  Robert Steele's book The Open Source Everything Manifesto: Transparency, Truth, and Trust:
"Normal average human beings, when they share information openly with one another and engage in respectful deliberative dialogue, always, without exception, arrive at better conclusions than experts or elites who rely on 'secret' information and generally have hidden agendas enabled by secrecy combined with public ignorance and apathy."
Steele, by the way, is a former CIA clandestine services case officer (spy) who has been promoting open source intelligence for a number of years. Unsurprisingly, he hasn't gotten much press. Here's a recent article about what he has coined the open source revolution.

Back to the NNP.
The NNP believes that government is a tool by the people, for the people. As such, we are committed to operating under complete transparency and enacting transparency laws that will strip government of secrecy. At the click of a mouse, Canadians will be able to trace every tax dollar's path through the system, see how MP's and senators have voted on past and current bills, and peruse the content of every caucus or meeting that takes place. In short, Canadians will have full access to every facet of government in near-real time, all the time.
Transparency is also central to Steele's Manifesto:
"The objective: to implement transparency, truth, and trust across all boundaries."
Amun, brother.
We are also committed to using all available technologies to give card-carrying NNP members unprecedented control in the management and direction of their party.
There's a new political party starting up in Australia that operates under similar principles. MP's and Senators of SOL (Senators Online) vote in accordance with the clear majority vote when making and deliberating proposed laws. How do they determine what the clear majority wants? Easy! Registered members use an app to vote on bills in parliament! From the SOL website:
Using the internet we can return to a system that reflects your true positions on important issues. Taking back power from politicians, special interest and lobby groups and putting it back where it belongs: in your hands — Now We Can!
I've discovered five other applications like SOL currently in development. The technology is nearly here: all that is lacking is public demand to have it integrated into our political system. Do you think any of the current political parties will fight to give us a louder voice and more say in how our country is run?

Highly unlikely.

Okay, let's talk economics.
The first step toward achieving a healthy, sustainable, and prosperous economy lies in strengthening our weakest links--the poor, disenfranchised, and sick--while investing in new technologies and industries. What worked a hundred years ago doesn't work today; we must ride the wave of change or be drowned by it.
And environment:
The NNP is confident that there is greater long-term profit in restoring balance and harmony to our planet than in abusing it for the short-term gain of a few. By converting existing energy infrastructures to renewable systems and rewarding industries that adopt green practices, we can lay the foundation for a holistic economy that will sustain us for generations to come while preserving the only home we have, planet earth. 
Paul Hawken's book The Ecology of Commerce makes a compelling case for the establishment of a restorative economy that mimics nature, produces little to no waste, and internalizes costs instead of externalizing them. Rather than fight against nature, such an economic model would work in concert with it to restore balance and increase jobs and prosperity worldwide.

I'll conclude the NNP manifesto with what I believe is the most important part:
In order to represent Canadians, we must base our policies on facts, no beliefs. We won't rely on subjective ideologies or pretend to have all the answers. Instead, we will consult experts from relevant fields, analyze all available data, and make the findings available to all citizens so that they can contribute to the discourse directly. 
So what do you think? Ready to be a part of the NNP? Going to vote for us in 2015?

Too bad we don't exist.

Not to worry! Since I shelved the NNP manifesto 9 months ago, I've discovered a slew of movements and ideas that align with my imaginary political party's mission, so if the above sounds intriguing to you, there are actual parties out there that need your help.

The one that I've chosen to ally myself with is the Futurist Party. Founded on the three E's--Evidence, Education, and Exploration--its members are regular people who have had enough. They've decided to take action and are starting to mobilize.

In order for the Futurist Party to stand a chance, it will have to make up with sheer numbers, ingenuity, and organization what it lacks in money. It will have to recruit allies from all walks of life, some like-minded, others not so much, or else it will falter and fail.

We can no longer afford to stand divided. We must set aside our petty, superficial differences in favour of a common cause: that of humanity. Together we must rise up and, through non-violent means, take back control of our planet.

And on that note, I'll leave you with the final words of my unfinished draft, the official NNP slogan:

Together we can.

/rant over
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