Whoever wins the election today will have the support of only about half the country, no matter what the electoral college says. The other half will be dead set against most of the policies he has proposed.
There are now lots of people in the blogosphere who have no problem letting anyone who will read their stuff or watch their videos know exactly how they feel about how the incumbent is trampling on their rights.
What is the connection between these two things? Now, more than ever, now, when it matters, ordinary people’s voices can be heard. People who will never meet in real life can have deep conversations about where this country is headed. People from all around the world can weigh in on how the policies and practices of the behemoth that is the United States will affect their lives. What changes they would make, if only they had the opportunity to vote.
America is a great experiment—not like the experiments in democracy that are disrupting the Middle East and other hot spots, not like the experiment in collectivism that is the European Union—but an experiment in everyman’s access to political theater.
Each person who has access to a computer of some type has his own soapbox. Right now, usually what happens is that a speaker decries some aspect of governance that has really gotten his goat, and others either applaud him or disdain his commentary. But what if those on the other side of an issue, those with a differing point of view, were able to explain their objections? Even a “that just feels wrong in my gut” is a worthwhile statement of beginning.
What if we had a blogosphere-wide brainstorming session? What if, instead of hurling vitriol and invective at the other party’s pet projects, we searched for the core values of those projects, uncovered the rationale behind them, and found a way to deal with the concerns that were raised. Those who disagreed with the outcome or methods of a project could express the reasons for their objection, their fear of where the project would take us, and propose alternate solutions. Back and forth, until the crux of the matter, the thing that is to be prevented, or implemented, is exposed to the light of day, the concerns about the methods or results or analyzed, and a proposed compromise is (tentatively) agreed upon.
If Congress refuses to act in our best interest, there is no reason that we can’t take up the standard of compromise, determine our own solutions, then propose that they implement a generally-agreed upon method for dealing with the issue at hand. Take any hot-button topic—abortion, gun control, education, defense, immigration—there are few people who have an all-or-nothing few of any of these. That means that there is room for compromise and airing of all opinions, fears, and proposals.
Somewhere in the morass lies a path. Maybe not the best path, maybe not the only path, maybe not even a complete way out. But the idea is to start the discussion. Whoever wins this election will have a lot of power for a long time over people who bitterly disagree with his policies. Create a forum for those people to share their ideas for a more perfect planet, to riff off each other in a productive way, and I think we’ll be amazed at the results.
It will take some time to work out the protocol and standards for such an exchange medium. We are so used to shooting down the ideas that we disagree with as soon as they are launched that the ability to let them waft long enough to discern their deeper meaning must be practiced—a lot.
I would open the floor to those who live elsewhere on this planet, as well. Nothing says that the only good or acceptable ideas come from those who inhabit this stretch of land. And whatever America does has such a profound effect on the rest of the world that it might be useful to understand exactly how our giant footprint impacts others’ lives.
We have taken the first step: we have begun the discussion process. Right now, it is disjointed, vitriolic, and polarized. But it is there. What I want to add is a measure of respect for other people’s feelings, fears, and hopes. The chance to delve into what, exactly, are the issues and the problems that are driving the conversation, in an effort to find acceptable solutions. Which results and methods are the most scary, and what alternate possibilities there may be.
Brainstorming is a messy process. It requires people to express their innermost feelings, while other people who disagree must hold their tongues until everyone has had a chance to speak. But it is, I think, an acceptable alternative to the current process of coming up with an idea and shoving it down other people’s throats. Democracy may be useful, but where’s the fun in only getting the chance to vote once every couple of years, then relying on representatives, who don’t always seem to be responsive, to run things?
Wouldn’t it be more fun for those who choose to educate themselves to get to weigh in on every decision made? We’d all bat our ideas around, come up with a suitable compromise, then present it our legislators. The cool thing is that people could be working on many issues at one time—select those that matter to you, and ignore the rest.
Let’s not spend the next four years demonizing whoever is in office. The man’s got a huge, difficult job to do. Let’s lend him a hand. Neither Mitt Romney nor Barack Obama hates people, they just have different ways of viewing the world. Let’s offer our talents to whoever wins, and share the ideas that we have for the direction we’d like this country to take.
Let’s stop mindlessly agreeing or hatefully disagreeing with either man. We can offer a lot more than invective. We all have plenty of ideas to share—all that we need to do is come up with a forum for brainstorming, discussion, and rating of concepts, so that we can create some realistic plans for our future.
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