Proposed (Initial) Strategy of Designing Open Democracy


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Rationale & Vision
Designing Open Democracy so far has centered on the niche topic of “Democratic System Reform” and is a gathering of minds to think about ways that our current system could be improved, without endorsing any particular system.

While this topic is very interesting, we are at a juncture where we are trying to work out exactly what is group is and what we are trying to do. We are also aware that there are other groups with similar goals and we want to carve out a niche which teams up with rather than double ups existing efforts.

This could go in any number of directions:

  • A. Are we just fans of the idea who just want to talk about it for our own enjoyment? or
  • B. Are we trying to actually change the current system?

This strategy assumes Option B, that we are actually trying to make a difference.

Under Option B, here is my proposed strategy.

Goals:

  • Educate and Co-operate: To educate each other, the general public, candidates & political parties, and non-profit groups about understanding each other and co-operating to better serve the public need to be well represented. We promote and facilitate the sharing of ideas, particularly ideas which improve our democracy.
  • Non-partisan: We will not take a particular side of politics, nor work in the system directly either by being a political party or fielding candidates to push our agenda exclusively.
  • Respectful: Politics often leads to heated discussion over opposing views. Opposing, controversial, and views we disagree with are okay, as long as we are all respectful about it. We are about working together and anyone of any belief (or non-belief) or background is welcome. We like to stick to the topic at hand and do not tolerate offensive behavior.
  • Democratic System Reform: We want to drive healthy political interest and discourse so that we (as a country) are in position where any meaningful improvements proposed for our democracy and is in the best interests of the people has a real chance of happening.

Core challenges:

  • Most (average) people don’t care enough about politics at all, let alone how the system works. Without broad interest in the topic, the possibility of any proposal to improve democracy is unlikely to be ever be taken seriously if not many people even care about it.

What are some of the major problems with the current system:

  • The current system (both socially and structurally) is heavily weighted towards two major parties, who can sometimes act in their own interests before the public interest. (Note: we are not against major parties, however major parties should earn votes through healthy competition, rather than by default)
  • A lot of apathetic voters and voters feeling powerless to make a difference due to shortcomings of the current system and political landscape
  • A lot of trust is placed in politicians who have a high potential to be able to abuse that trust.
  • Too much trust is placed onto politicians in the first place, and there is no effective alternative when promises can be easily broken without recourse.
  • A lot of voters “default” to a particular party without much research of what they truly stand for, because they feel pressured to vote among a limited amount of options even though there are minor parties (which they don’t know much about) on the ballot paper too.
  • Many voters can be manipulated into voting for a party/candidate even though that option in reality is not in their best interest to do so
  • Rise of “Personality Politics” where voters are more interested in the person and the drama rather than the actual Policies. This is going to become more pronounced as Political Parties have realised that it is an effective strategy to get big celebrity names from the entertainment industry (like “Donald Trump”) to win elections regardless of policy.

Basic strategy

  • “Designing Open Democracy” (Democratic Reform) becomes a subtopic under an Umbrella organisation (Like how Google made Alphabet Inc. and then placed itself under Alphabet Inc)
  • The Umbrella organisation conducts a range of activities in support of these goals
  • Activities can be either Direct-to-public and organisation-to-organisation.
  • Emphasis on Alliances/Joint ventures, not duplicating efforts elsewhere, and helping others who support our goals become stronger.
    • For example, encouraging Political Parties with similar goals/policy to work together rather than cannibalise each other, or running workshops in conjunction with another group trying to achieve the same thing.
  • The aim is to get other people interested in us and crossover with other interesting topics as a “Gateway” into the topic of Democratic Reform.
    • For example, Get “Tommy” (A video gamer who doesn’t care about politics) interested in a workshop about “video gaming and public policy” to show how it is important to care about politics because the decision he makes when he votes affects him more than he realised. As “Tommy” dives deeper into the topic, Tommy starts to care and realises that his Elected representative may not be doing a good job at representing him and others in his electorate and perhaps there is something wrong with the system itself which needs exploring, so then becomes interested in Democratic Reform too.
  • Topics may include “Democratic Reform” (the end goal of why we exist) but it is not necessary for everything to be directly focused on this goal. We must also accept that some people will never be interested in this topic, and that is okay too.
    • For example, we run a workshop on “Housing Affordability”. Some people interested in Housing Affordability but also get into “Democratic Reform” but others might want to stick to “Housing Affordability” (or other side topics) only.

Organisational Structure/Discourse Categories

  • “Catchy Umbrella Name” (ties everything together, everything flows into each other) - Names suggested to @mofosyne
    • Designing Open Democracy (Democratic Structure Reform)
      • Our traditional interest area
    • Cooperation between organisations (Non-profits, Political Parties, etc)
      • Eg: with NewVote (voting systems alignment)
      • Other similar alignments work together (progressive, conservative, etc.). We stay non-partisan and give equal chance (whether these groups take us up on the offer or stick to their own circles is up to them)
    • Community Engagement
      • Getting people interested in Politics & Proper dissemination of it
        • Promoting how caring about politics is important to our everyday lives
        • Importance of voting and knowing who to vote for (eg: vote for that values you believe are the best candidate, not necessarily has the best advertising)
        • Critical thinking of political promises/media coverage
        • Relating with specific topics which are relevant to every demographic (House prices, disability rights, video games, etc.)
        • Involve other groups in above
          • Eg: ValU
      • General chat for Political Enthusiasts
        • We usually have a good chat anyway
        • Involve other groups in above
          • Eg: Latrobe PPE chat about economics, closely related

Communications

  • This Discourse instance

    • Reflection of above structure using “Categories” feature
    • “Private Discussions” area to keep private notes/contact details of organisations we deal with not fit for public view
  • @umbrellaname.com emails address - particularly professional emails org to org

  • Facebook Groups (particularly Events feature) - https://www.facebook.com/groups/527952070912784/

    • In conjunction with meetup.com - see which is better between Facebook Events and Meetup
  • Discord for chat - https://discord.gg/cHWGyMk

  • Homepage & Blog (Discourse integrated?)

  • Mailing List - Mailchimp

Meeting Spaces

  • Start to phase in online communications to promote other geolocations to participate (ie: Discord for meetings)
  • Melbourne, shorlist:
    • Shoku Iku, 120 High St, Northcote VIC 3070 (Cheap health food) - untested - in Batman electorate
    • Amigos, 92B Acland St, St Kilda VIC 3182 (Cheap mexican food) - untested
    • Poked, 360 Collins St, Melbourne VIC 3000 (Possibly will allow free space, they have hosted OzBargain before) - untested
    • Fed Square (Expensive Cafes)
    • York Butter Factory

Project Ideas

  • BATMAN BYELECTION - Foster the parties (particularly minors) to try working together where possible or at least not to cannibalise each other, eg: joint letter drops, similar parties not to follow each other over the same territory, if someone doesn’t like your party in particular suggest an alternative they seem closer aligned to which still has strategic value to your party.

    • (umbrella) scorecard
  • Video Game workshop / PAX Panel

    • Gambling hot political issue in gaming

This post is a wiki, feel free to edit it yourself to make improvement