- 3. Open Government: Governing bodies must be as open and transparent about their processes as possible. There can be no good faith conversation around governing without transparency, and a lack of transparency will kill the incentive for policy-based organizing.
- 4. Building a citizens base for every policy:The source of legitimacy for every use of government power is the public. That means that as many policies and programs as possible must have a popular base of committed citizens to create a sustainable political consensus for that policy or program, as well as to investigate and correct for error and corruption. There is an artificial divide by good government groups here, in that elections and lobbying are seen as necessarily walled off activities. ‘You do politics, I do policy’, or ‘Here’s my policy, now you sell it’ are relics. Base-building should be transparent, and becoming part of a organizing group should be accessible to all citizens.
- 5. Political patron: Every people-powered government initiative should have a political patron or set of patrons to fight inside the halls of power for the project. To make sure a project works, you need both a base of people who are organized and a political patron to push information back to that base on how to achieve policy objectives.
In other words, people-powered government works as follows. A governing body creates an open conversation with interested citizenry, interested citizenry organize into a coherent and universally accessible groups, and political insiders form an alliance with this group to ensure that it is satisfied with progress.
Sorry for the lengthy quote, but I think it’s awfully germane to Massachusetts. To the extent possible so far, hasn’t this been exactly what the Patrick transition has done?
- “Civic Engagement” is another word for People-Power;
- The working groups have indeed brought in many outside experts into the fold — even to the extent that certain elements of the legislature reportedly feel a little left out;
- The Working Group meetings have also seen the beginnings of building the base for a variety of issues, from Tech to Health Care.
- As far as getting patrons is concerned, we’re actually doing quite well: We’ve got a strong and vital progressive faction which outlasted Finneran and now Romney, and has grown is past few elections; and folks like Senator Jarrett Barrios and Rep. Jim Marzilli have even posted here under their own names. (I apologize if I’m leaving any other elected officials out!) We need to keep in touch with them — and ask them how we can help.
Now, we’ll know more about the extent of transparency and openness when Gov. Patrick takes office; we’ll see if he follows through on his considerable promise in this regard … and he’s already got a reputation to keep up.
So, we’re off to a good start. What else do you think the progs-n’-blogs can do? What’s missing? What are we doing well? (That last part’s an important one — appreciate your strengths, and play to them.)