Open-Source Government?

Thanks to Annie for pointing this out to me. Joho the Blog says:

The SunlightBerkman confab on providing more access to more information about politics and government was terrific.

And then:

Most of the attendees are progressives, although some are non-partisan. But even the people behind the non-partisan services tend to be left-leaning. Yet what these folks are devoting their time to building are tools that help all citizens no matter how they lean

And finally asks:

Why is it that these tools for a better democracy are coming from the left? Or are there similar tools developed by the right that I don’t know about?

So here’s my response:

A conservative is, by definition, one “who favors maintenance of the status quo or reversion to some earlier status.” This requires walls, gates, locks, secrecy–all the implements of “security.”

A progressive is then, by definition, one who values “moving forward or onward.” This requires risk, which presupposes an abandoning of security, opening of doors, transparency, embracing the technology and community that can get you “through the wilderness.”

It’s a fundamental clash of worldviews. “Open Government” is probably seen by conservatives as something frightening, not something with the power to help them. “You mean ANYONE can participate? Even people I don’t like? Unacceptable!”

Remember the subtle difference between the words “republican” and “democrat.” A true democrat believes that the people (demos) should own the entire process. A true republican believes that only highly-qualified people should “represent” the people, and make the decisions they can’t make for themselves. Unfortunately, our government is the latter.

Perhaps the true revolution from the Net-Generation will be the arrival the direct democracy promised but not delivered at the inception of our nation. No electors, no congress–just the vote of the majority.

Wow. That’s scary.

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4 Responses to Open-Source Government?

  1. Ginger says:

    Hi Neal!
    I think you are right about a direct democracy being the next step for our government. My friend Spark doesn’t believe that our current Western governments (US and Britain) represent true democracy; he thinks that our current systems need to be thrown out (execution is the word du jour) and rebuilt from “below.” He is much more eloquent about the whole thing than I am about it. If you haven’t already done so, check out his blog [Revolutionary] Post Modern Times. Like you, he loves to explore the meanings of words.
    Also, he stomps me at debate (I dislike debate and would much rather share ideas, salon style), but you and Annie could take him. Actually, I think it would be Annie v. you and Spark… 😉
    I hope all is well you and yours!

  2. Neal says:

    Are you kidding? Nobody can take Annie on in a debate! Even two brains to her one, your friend and I would end up only so much brain-mush swiped on the pavement. Please don’t send me down that road again…

  3. Ginger says:

    I don’t know, Neal. Spark has left me in tears before. Maybe we should sit back and be spectators. We can make popcorn!

    Then again, the result might be fairly brutal.. Nah. Spark is a total pacifist -sort of. He would cut his opponent off at the knees without raising his voice above a whisper, would nurture her soul back to health and sit her on a higher spiritual plane than the one she was perched upon before, and would do all of this through poetry.

    At least that’s what he does to me.

    Entertaining, right? Now I need some popcorn.

  4. Dante says:

    Bad Locke, no open democracy for you!!!

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