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Change We Want, Yet We Don't Want Change

Twenty-two years ago, I embarked on what I thought would be a life-changing adventure. I started moving my alternative system of governance from my mind and on to pen-and-paper (well actually keyboard and monitor). I call this system “Tiered Democratic Governance” or TDG. I naively believed the world was ready for this kind of change.

On various internet forums and in a few real discussions, I’ve probably interacted with at least 1,000 people over the past 22 years. Most of them are not happy with how government works, so it would seem natural that they should inspect alternatives. So why don’t they give my work a serious inspection? Here is my synopsis of all these interactions:

The Dystopian

I have encountered quite a few thinkers who happily write articles proclaiming that western civilization is on its inevitable Roman-Empire-like decline. They happily show us the signs, and they happily predict the end of rule of law and the rise of a cruel oligarchy.

I sometimes ask them: “What are you doing to prevent the decline?”

“There’s no point,” they say.

I tell them, “I have a new system of governance that should elevate our civilization”.

“There’s no point in hearing about it,” they say.

I could accept their rationale, but one thing bothers me about these dystopians. If I truly thought that way, I would not be spending hours on the internet trying to convince the world that we are descending into hell. Rather I would be enjoying as much of this world as I could before the hellfire reached us. Their logic escapes me.

On another internet forum, I am sure one dystopian was spending three hours a week writing his dystopian articles and interacting with other dystopians. He could take a week off writing and use that time to read my book. But . . . .

The Tinkerer

I have encountered at least ten articles on Medium about the folly of the Electoral College to elect the president of the United States. In their minds, this system should be replaced with a popular vote. It sounds more democratic, right?

Reading between the lines of these articles, I find mostly partisan supporters of the losing side in 2016. If Ms. Clinton had won the Electoral College but lost the popular vote, these same thinkers would either 1) claim that the Electoral College is indeed more democratic than the popular vote or 2) not mention this democratic deficiency at all. Tinkering with current democratic systems usually has a political bias behind it.

The fellow who called me “a nation of one” believes in referenda to solve our democracy. I tried to explain the cons of referenda, but he is set in his ways about how to resolve his frustrations with democracy.

I have encountered many Canadians who want Canada to move away from its Westminster model of government (which we inherited from the British in 1867) to the proportional representation (PR) model common in western European countries. When I try to tell them that average European citizens are just as frustrated with their government as Canadians in Canada AND when I try to tell them that PR will not address even one limitation of western democracy that I have outlined in my book, they give me that look that, if I keep talking, I’ll be soon sent to the insane asylum. 

The Constitutionalist

Many Americans, from both the left and the right, are enamored by their constitution. They regard it as the ultimate system of governance humanity can ever invent. Hence, there is no need to develop anything else.

Here’s the kicker. The American Constitution was ratified in 1789. It reflected those times — with the obvious racism, misogyny, and elitism. We have moved beyond so many models of 1789 thinking. Chemistry, economics, and sociology have all had several changes in models to describe how the real world works. Yet when it comes to governance, Americans are stuck in 1789, with that time’s attitudes of racism, misogyny, and elitism hovering around.

“Oh,” says the constitutionalist, “the founding fathers put in this amending formula. We change the constitution to whatever we want whenever we want. The founding fathers were so wise in this regard.” Then, of course, this leads to the logic that there is no political will to change the constitution, there is some inherent wisdom that the constitution should not be changed in the first place. The constitutionalists have all the angles covered in their “perfect” document.

As Dr. Phil likes to say to his dysfunctional patients holding on to semi-destructive values, I say to the constitutionalists: “How’s the constitution working for America today?”

It is time to build an entirely new constitution. We can learn from history, but we don’t necessarily have to live in that history.

The Messiah Follower

There have been a few Medium contributors who really like Elizabeth Warren. They are promoting her candidacy with their articles.

But what if she is elected in November 2020? For sure, she will face large sectors of both Congress and the public which will be openly hostile to whatever she does or wants to do. They will put up all sorts of obstacles to ensure that her agenda is not fulfilled to any serious way. And eventually, her administration will likely get caught in a scandal or two causing the loss of her fickle support that gave her the edge over Mr. Trump.

Remember “hope and change” of 2008? What happened?

Like it or not, a lot of Americans put their faith in Mr. Trump in 2016. How likely is he to deliver the goods for his average supporter?

Why is Ms. Warren (or Mr. Sanders) going to be any different?

Hear my words: “There is no political messiah who can fix things for Americans”.

Hear my words: “One percent of Americans have to get off their butts and build a new NON-PARTISAN system of governance.”

Hear my words: “It is time the USA finds some new founding fathers (and mothers).”

The Educator

I have been on Medium since April 2019. I find many anti-Trump articles on my Medium feed. I conclude two possibilities: 1) Medium is not an attractive forum for Trump supporters or even moderate conservative thinkers, or 2) the Medium algorithms are feeding me article it believes I will like reading. Either way, I seem to be an anti-Trump echo chamber.

I estimate it will cost me four hours of spare time to write this article. Because the Medium algorithm has not yet deemed me as a writer worth promoting over other writers, my reads for this article are likely to be less than 20. So maybe I am wasting my time again.

If I have to spend four hours putting this article together, the anti-Trump writers are putting similar effort into their well written articles. When I probe the anti-Trump writers, they somehow believe that their Medium efforts are actually changing people’s minds, which will eventually lead to Mr. Trump’s loss in November 2020 (or sooner). That is why they are spending hours and hours writing their many anti-Trump articles.

Guess what? These Medium writers are in the same echo chamber as I. Yes, they are going to get lots of claps from other anti-Trump writers—and these claps seem to validate the writers’ efforts. But there is very little changing of minds going on in Medium’s political world.

Instead of writing Medium articles to find anti-Trump votes, these people should join a non-profit board to bring some more “social democracy” to their community. As well as improving their community, these influencers will be a better position to interact with Americans who normally don’t vote — or spend time on internet forums. If ousting Mr. Trump is the goal, being in a real community should be more productive than spending time in echo chambers of anti-Trumpers who are already going to vote against Mr. Trump.

Your Challenge

I am thankful for the internet to get my ideas “out there.” Thirty years ago, my TDG message would have never made in out of my man-cave.

As I alluded earlier, I am writing a new book that explains the TDG in a different way. I think it will be ready by March, maybe earlier. I will be promoting it on Medium.

But if history is an indicator, I should expect that this second book will possibly not be going anywhere. If so, I will put the TDG on the shelf again. My spare time is better spent in the volunteer sector improving my community a little than on internet forums.

After spending maybe 400 hours on Medium (I do like reading these many well written articles), I have convinced two Medium contributors to read my book. Both came back to me with their thoughts. They did not believe human nature was developed enough to make the TDG work. They are absolutely right: if we don’t learn how to sideline the power accumulation instinct inherent in most of us, the TDG is likely not to work.

But the TDG is the forum where we learn how to rise above ourselves!

Your challenge is to read my book—if you really want to move the world beyond our status quo!

My prediction: If the USA—and the rest of the world—do not move to a TDG-like democracy, the best we can hope for 20 years from now is the opportunity and freedom to post our similar complaints on forums like Medium. But we might lose that opportunity and freedom. If so, my TDG will definitely be stuck in my man-cave!

Published on Medium 2019

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