When Tom Friedman foresaw a flat world fueled by globalization, one wonders if he could have envisioned how scorched-earth political posturing would threaten to burn his own country down.
The civil scars partisan politics have left on the United States are now so severe Friedman has turned his attention inward. Toward a 3-D convergence of its “radical center.”
If Friedman’s got this one correct, the outcomes could be transformative — thanks to an audacious but quite serious Internet initiative called Americans Elect. It’s a 1.6 million-strong and counting convention to nominate bipartisan candidates on bi-partisan ballots.
The cross-partisan initiative sees Democratic, Republican and Independent leadership strengths as complementary, not contrary. And insists politicians follow the lead of citizen-created platforms that isolate mutually-salient interests to develop mutually-beneficial solutions.
No doubt the innovation emerged from the desperate-situations-require-drastic-measures themes pandemic in the pundit set. Friedman was among those who issued early alerts in early 2010. As was former Newsweek editor Tom Meacham.
Though influential, these pundits obviously aren’t the only people puzzling the problems.
To be utterly clear: Without community members’, citizens’ and, yes, candidates’ concerted efforts to co-produce them, all the good ideas in the world won’t save the United States from immolating itself.
America Elect might be just the place the public can break through political barriers created by the heretofore seemingly impenetrable powers-that-be behind these days’ political campaigns.
It is proactive rather than reactive, not a debate on “the partisan problem,” but a referendum that transitions beyond it — in ways the very structure of our U.S. democracy has until now unintentionally undermined. And all the iterations, evolutions and devolutions, understandings and appropriations of constitutional intent have somehow paralyzed.
This one is worth paying attention to. It may just be the kind of dynamic shift We the People have been waiting for. But we can’t stand back and wait for other people to produce this third way democracy.
We’ve got just over a year. Can we make it happen?
Andrea Morisette Grazzini is a consultant and participatory researcher. She founded the cross-partisan initiative DynamicShift, in 2009. Her work has influenced numerous regional and national conversations on co-productive change, including online forums at TEDTalks.