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Building the TDG Culture

When the people chose to replace their governing political party after a democratic election, that party and its leaders step aside for the victors to assume responsibility and authority for governance. I consider this willingness to lose power as the best sign of a functioning democracy.

History tells us this is not normal behavior. Rather, the historical norm is for leaders to hold on to power for as long as possible. Usually, forces bigger than elections were required to remove political leaders from their lofty positions.

So we should consider this “stepping aside” as a trait humanity had to learn. It did not come naturally to us, especially the political leaders. Somehow, we surpassed our natural instincts when we signed on to western democracy.

My alternative democracy—Tiered Democratic Governance(TDG)—will also require us to go beyond our natural instincts. As you are reading the traits necessary for the TDG, you might be inclined to believe these traits are insurmountable. But remember that we have overcome many of our baser instincts with western democracy. We can take this challenge to a higher level with the TDG.

Voting for Good Character and Competence for Governance

Today’s voters have all sorts of reasons for the way they vote. For the TDG to work, most of these reasons will have to be cast aside.

So the TDG has to train voters to vote more wisely. Voters need to be reminded to vote for good character and capacity for governance. This training comes with education and patience. It might take three or four elections for many new TDG voters to fully understand their role in identifying these two criteria and casting their votes accordingly.

As well, TDG voters will need to be watchful for campaigning—and not vote for the campaigners. The best way to discourage campaigning—which later forms factions which later forms political parties—is to not vote for campaigners. Let the past deeds of viable contenders earn the votes rather than promises for the future.

Decision-Making by Consultation

Western democracy has taught us to fight to implement our ideas. So we fight. We are not so much interested in what the other side is saying; we just need to shout longer and louder and take whatever other advantage we can find to get our agenda pushed through.

I have served on community boards. It takes me about six meetings to determine whether a fellow board member is truly interested in what I have to say or is only being nice to me while playing the game of democracy to implement his/her preordained agenda. This latter case applies to someone who is not of a consultative mindset, even if that person is civil and abides by the rules of democracy.

If we are of a consultative mindset, we are looking at our fellow decision makers as people who have acquired knowledge, experience, and wisdom we don’t have. By combining our knowledge, experience, and wisdom with theirs, we can reach better decisions than working by ourselves.

The TDG needs to make consultation a cultural trait. All decision makers should come with an open mind and a willingness to listen to others.

Many TDG voters will put “consultation skills” as one of their features for “capacity for governance” to cast their vote. 

Respect for the Elected Bodies

Sometimes, TDG members may not like a decision made by the elected bodies of the TDG. But they should realize the source of these decisions. First, the TDG will have found people “from among the best”—in terms of good character and capacity for governance. Second, the members should realize that these decision makers are employing consultation to reach decisions, not playing partisan games. Third, these elected bodies have more information to reach those decisions. With all these TDG features brought together, the members should acknowledge these elected bodies are probably making better decisions than any individual can concoct in isolation. 

When a TDG member disagrees with a TDG decision, the culture should bring that person into thinking something like:

“I don’t understand why our executive committee went this way. Maybe there are good reasons. If their decision is proven wrong, I’m sure they will fix it.”

Respect for the Advisors

Advisors are an integral arm of the TDG. They are appointed by the highest tier and should have several years of experience on the elected side. Advisors do not have any official power in the TDG, but whatever they say should be taken seriously by the elected decision makers. Often, a good advisor’s comments can take the elected side to a new understanding of an issue.

The TDG should have a culture that respects the advice when the advisor speaks. Just listen carefully. This person has a unique perspective because of the experience and position. 

The Indirect Elections

If there is more than one tier, TDG members will not be voting for members of the higher tier(s). There are some good reasons for the indirect elections.

While the political junkies will rail at not being able to vote for the people in the higher tiers, I think many TDG members will be accepting of the indirect elections. Especially when the leadership of the TDG proves to be quite sound.

TDG Representatives Stepping Aside

Serving on the TDG will be an enjoyable experience for many elected TDG representatives. Some would prefer to continue in this service for as long as possible.

But the annual TDG election has its ways of moving people in and out of elected office. If a long-serving TDG representative is no longer elected, he/she needs to be thinking: “The TDG has found someone better than me to serve. I could use the break. And maybe my TDG experience will be used in other ways.”

A Deliberate Cultural Shift

The TDG requires a deliberate building of a new culture. This responsibility belongs to the early TDG builders and first TDG executive committees. The foresight and wise efforts in these early times will last for centuries. History will mention these early builders.

This TDG culture will not be easy to implement. We still have too many conflictive ways to overcome as we build this new culture. So there will be a few internal battles within each of us.

But as we improve, those watching the TDG will see our improvement. The TDG culture will become more ingrained, and it will be more easily passed down to new members and young members. They won’t have to overcome that internal conflict that has come from western democracy.

In 20 years, this TDG culture will almost be automatic. The new ways will be cultural, not forced.

Let me say this again. The early TDG is about establishing a new culture of decision making. We can elevate ourselves to this higher level of being human.

Published on Medium 2021

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