Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Avoiding the Suppression of Progress: Part One

"I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." James Madison

Who are the gatekeepers of information and opinion? Media? Government? Large organizations of varying stripes?

Who prevents us or assists us in ensuring that diverse opinions, ideas and information are integrated into the "common dialogue" so that all realistic avenues of progress are debated, analyzed and enacted?

What I find fascinating about the current presidential contests is the continued focus of our fellow citizens on "looking for a leader" who will somehow have the answer to all our questions. No one individual, no matter how bright, can solve all our issues.

At best they can only find people smarter than they are with a broader and more diverse scope of knowledge, give them the tools to work collaboratively with the citizenry to solve problems. One's judgment and ability to formulate collaborative solutions which integrate a wide cross section of the citizenry is, to me, more important than some vague reference to leadership.

In short, what are your ideas and how specifically are going to implement them? We don't expect perfection. We will allow you to change your positions without demagoging the issue. The vast majority of people just want a sincere effort, an honest answer and an opportunity to be heard.

Of course tell us the truth. But, more importantly tell us how you arrived at what you believe the truth to be. It may not always be the best politics. It may not even be winning politics. But it is good for the overall health of the public discourse.

Most people are reasonable, hard working citizens. Most people are tolerant of opposing views. Most people will participate if given the opportunity and believe that their voice, even if it doesn't carry the day, will be heard.

Bottom up generally works better than top down. Smaller more diverse groups working collaboratively are generally better than a monolithic entity dictating policy.

None of this works however without the active participation of you and me.

So who can suppress progress here on Long Island and elsewhere?

With the free flow of information and the tools to empower the public, no one.

Who has the ultimate responsibility to solve problems? We do.

I don't see how there can be a "silent majority" or a silent anything in the future. Maybe even the very near future.

Enough sermonizing.

More in Part Two.

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