Posted by Tom Kershaw in on -
For the occasion, I thought I would discuss an idea to take THEE principles off the Internet and into the political arena. Let’s talk about real solutions that, without a violent revolution or total social upheaval, could bring about much-needed, radical change to our political system—and it wouldn’t even be that hard to do!
The trick is to make it seem as if what we’re doing isn’t radical at all. If we can manage that, it will keep politicians and the media from marginalizing the initiative and writing it off as the mad ideas of some whacky fringe group.
As I have discussed numerous times in my 100 blogs, (yes, I’m going to milk it when I can) we are entering a new phase in our political development. THEE calls it Conventionalism and perhaps its most striking feature is a populace that is much more active in politics as a single, unified group. This will be enabled by advances in communication technology and will be a reaction to the obvious failings of the political and social elite (and us, quite frankly) during the current political phase—Plutocratic Pluralism.
Step one is to continue our adherence to the already-existing constitutional system. This isn’t because the Constitution is perfect and the forefathers (speaking as an American here) were demi-gods who graced us with their infinite wisdom. It’s because the Constitution is familiar and has deep cultural roots. It’s something a mass of people knows about and can largely agree on. It provides for solid political ground, something to latch on to for a crowd—which has the tendency to be a catalyst for chaos if there’s not some boundary over which they unconsciously agree not to cross.
“Politics by the people” has its downsides. When the crowd gets fired up, scary things can happen. But this can be tempered by, as noted above, a compass like the Constitution and the diffusion of power and responsibility. This is where interest groups come in.
The Political Unit that Counts
Every democratic society is rife with a multitude of diverse, quasi-political interest groups. This isn’t the Republican Party, the prison industrial complex or the pharmaceutical lobby we’re talking about. Imagine something more on the scale of the Prostate Cancer Coalition or the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. They span the spectrum of human interests but the common thread is that they must all engage with the political system to some degree. And there are just so many of them. It is estimated that there are 1.5 million non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the U.S.
The leaders of these groups, for the most part, are well versed on the problems inherent in the uncaring bureaucracy, the ineptocracy and the kleptocracy. They realize that they are competing with large, vested interests who have armies of lawyers and lobbyists. They generally feel powerless and marginalized because they are—but only because they stand alone. Yet, more people belong to some interest group than to any given political party, probably without even realizing it. My wife, for example, is a member of the American Translator Association and I pay my yearly dues to the American Society for Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). A lot of latent power waits, spread across these many groups, aching to be tapped.
I understand that it’s difficult to imagine that groups as different as a bird watching society and a music publishing association could have anything in common. However, their efforts to influence the political system are often thwarted, and there are reasons for this, reasons leaders understand. These reasons are what could unite them.
Let’s start another interest group, an interest group interest group. The THEE page that describes this plan gives a suggestion for naming it the National Association for Proper Politician Participation and Practices (NAPPPP). But that’s not really all that important. It would have only three simple duties.
- Reach out to the multitude of interest groups and organize itself as a nexus. Our new “meta-interest group” would act as a meeting point for all of a society’s interest groups.
- Survey and gauge these groups, ask them what stands in their way. It must be about the political system, not something within their particular realm of interest. Maybe it is that they don’t have enough financing to compete with corporate lobbyists. Maybe their protestors keep getting beaten up and arrested. Maybe Congressmen don’t even respond to their communications with anything other than a stock letter. It’s up to these interest groups to determine what most stands in their way.
- Lastly, this meta-interest group will find common themes, organize an annual convention and invite representatives to attend and conduct referenda. Groups will vote on, say, to reform the tax code so that corporations can’t take advantage of loopholes—and our meta-interest group will submit the results to government.
Every Interest Group in America, Representing 280 million People, Pushes for Tax Reforms
And you’ve got your grassroots, non-violent revolution. Politicians would hate it. They’d have no choice but to respond in some fashion—perhaps only a token speech at first, but if these annual conventions gain steam and referenda keep coming, we could see real, democratic change based on the Conventionalist ethos.
That’s the basic thrust. Please visit THEE’s Conventionalist satellite for deeper understanding.
Or, just think about it for a while. It won’t solve all of our problems. However, consider these points:
- The meta-interest group could be operated on a relatively small budget and with a small secretariat.
- It would perhaps be the most democratic aspect of Western society as it currently stands.
- It wouldn’t seem too radical, because who’s threatened by a bunch of translators and musicians and bird lovers getting together?
- It could affect real political change at a time when too many of us feel totally powerless and adrift in the choices of elites who exist well beyond our reach. Our own little interest groups are, however, easily within reach.
- Tom Kershaw
- Hi! I'm Tom and I am a full-time writer, musician, and father to a firecracker of a four year-old. My wife and I lease our house and cars from her in hopes that her considerable talents of mess-making, princess-impersonation, and stuffed animal-whispering will pay off and fund our eventual retirement in the south of France.
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