~-===================================================================-~ PEOPLES PRESS INTERNATIONAL (PPI) - a public service of CADRE (Citizens for a Democratic Renaissance) - CADRE home page -> http://cyberjournal.org PPI home page -> http://cyberjournal.org/cadre/PPI-archives CADRE library -> http://cyberjournal.org/cadre/cadre-library - Republication permission granted for non-commercial and small-press use, with all sig & header info incorporated, please. ~-===================================================================-~ 011-The-CDI-initiative.txt * ARTICLE / VISION * "The CDI - The Civic Democratic Institution" Copyright 1996 by Mark Whitaker Mark Whitaker University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Sociology ---------------------------------------------------------------- The CDI - The Civic Democratic Institution Subject: breaking media deadlock on public mobilization: The CDI Hello, Would the editors please post an open institutional framework idea of mine? It should be useful in organizing a 'plurality/consensus' around grass-roots organizing. Secondly (and more importantly), it should be able to maintain the framing of public debate around grass-roots organizing through popularizing a 'citizenship' venue which avoids media reliance/spin on popularizing ideas. People again become the transmitter of ideas, instead of the incredible filtering processes of the media which creates a culture that is tailor made for economic interests. The web site is located at www.sit.wisc.edu/~mrkdwhit/cdi3.htm If people presently are concerned with the lack of any 'great ideas' to inspire them, that actually is beneficial instead of problematic. The idea is to create the framework for socialization structures which allow for a balanced democratic expression first, and then through democratic politics, let people determine their own interests in a more participatory politics. This organization is designed to bring local politics into balance with a nation-states political party politics. It is not designed to replace anything, just add what I think is missing structurally to provide a prop for localized mobilization getting its word out. This would be useful if any grass-roots organization is willing to sponsor it, and it would provide a nice way to frame the public discourse around grass-roots as democratic, instead of 'reactionary, or elitist, etc.' It should 'start itself' after it begins, as different groups compete to use the structure to frame themselves as legitimate democratic interests, instead of being (1) ignored by the media, or (2) considered aberrant automatically. In addition to my posting question, concerning, the forthcoming book, "Globalization and the Revolutionary Imperative," could I contribute a chapter concerning this? Please do all of us a favor and pass on the web site address or this text to other interested parties. The text follows, and yes, I actually have copyrighted it, but I am granting permission to distribute through PPI. Read on. Thanks, Mark Whitaker University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Sociology ~-==============================-~ Dear Mark, Thanks for your article. We need such positive visions of how people can effectively collaborate in their collective liberation. We'll take this article as a first draft candidate for the book. Please let us know at •••@••.••• what kind of changes or additional material you have in mind. I wonder if you're familiar with the Cuban political system? Many of the mechanisms you are inventing have working counterparts there. You might take a look at: http://cyberjournal.org/cadre/renaissance-log/cj765-Cuban-democracy.txt Here we have a functioning example of an extremely democratic process, where all segments of society are systematically included in policy setting. This proves by example that genuine democracy cannot be dismissed as utopian. solidarity, rkm ~-==============================-~ ---------------------------------------------------------------- The CDI - The Civic Democratic Institution With the advance of widening anomie and social polarization in the country, I have been thinking how to create a sort of 'reintroduction' service for peoples who are physically neighbors, but socially moving further apart. If you like the idea, why not start it in your hometown or local area? What is the purpose of the CDI? The Civic Democratic Institution (CDI) intends to contribute a catalyst for a vitalization of public discourse and democratic procedure. I feel this will be particularly useful for urban politics, but its application is equally useful for rural areas. As has been widely noted it has been seen as difficult to develop representative politics in larger cities. Within this theory, representative politics can develop in smaller populations, though even then there is no assurance that what develops will be based on plurality. Through a two-tiered system of voting, the CDI would select for those best called publicly recognized 'intermediaries.' If a certain individual does receive social recognition, it is only that--recognition. The CDI is nothing like an elected body for politics, but a social body representative of a particular area. The aim of the voting is to create a 'living poll,' if you will, of a city or rural area's socio-political outlook by honoring those whom the public admires with recognition. The aim of the CDI is to establish a 'representative-based agora' for political communication. How does the CDI function? More important than what it selects for is what the CDI institutionally selects against including in a political process--politics of exclusion, short term popularity, one issue popularity, and 'landslide' bloc voting practices. I am arguing that it is mostly the institutional processes of selection chosen which effect the manner and outcome of a political representation as well as what types of groups are popularized and created. The political process of the CDI aims to mitigate these four above mobilizing processes of social recognition. In terms of short term popularity, the structure of the CDI makes sure that this 'admiration' doesn't get out of hand and substitute a beauty contest atmosphere for the aim of a representative body. This is done by a second round of voting which allows for a group vote upon the roster of citizens who were recognized in the first round. To further address this point, both rounds of recognition voting are done over long stretches of time to mitigate short term popularity as the basis for politics, and the actual 'run-off' interval is limited to minimize polarization-- the politics of exclusion and one issue popularity toward which long elections contribute. In addition, by allowing each person the ability to vote for or against each person on the first round's roster, the politics of exclusion are mitigated by this practice and the aforementioned dual vote: those who feel excluded will be more likely to mobilize and to 'veto' exclusionary politics upheld in the first round when given the chance of both a second round of voting and either verifying or rejecting a particular person. This allowance of a choice of voting both for and against slows reactionary politics and its one issue popularity which is only selected for by the method of allowing for 'pro' only roster voting: the heaping of a vote behind an equally exclusionary politics is seen as the only option 'in self-defense,' if 'pro' voting is all one is allowed to do. Landslide bloc voting practices are curtailed through the dual vote which allows for a public registering of disapproval of existing candidates in a second round instead of making the one issue popularity of a subsequent reactionary exclusion the only feasible solution if excluded groups wish to respond. Through the institutional winnowing of extremists or reductionists (or the additional positive recognition of some moderate who only cursorily had been recognized before), one has a set of people who have run the gauntlet of the four above categories and could be considered politically 'legitimate' representatives of a community, instead of only representatives of contending processes of politics of exclusion, short term popularity, one issue popularity, and landslide bloc voting practices. These four processes generally are considered the process of recognizing groups of interests in society, instead of a system which tends to do the opposite by perpetuating reactionary and one issue politics around short term popularity elected through a system of bloc voting practices. Each of these four ingredients of this 'representative finding process' finds no 'representatives' at all: they find individuals and interests which can be highly unrepresentative. The CDI is designed to introduce a 'second process' to politics, as a group of citizens beholden to the community and filtered through several selective processes which select against the four abovementioned political processes. As such, they could have a beneficial effect on addressing issues of consensus as well as providing a 'pressure group' for an airing of consensus issues kept out of the political process. As a representative and different pathway of politics, they would promote a consensus based forum for politics. Particular Features or Effects of the CDI: Nothing is a preset or institutional given, beyond the desire to recognize reasonable people within a society, people who potentially have the political position to be a force for moderation and compromise. 1) The CDI allows for a test drive in something sorely lacking in the world, debate--debate on the directions of governments within society to assure that the government is reflective of its people's interests, instead of merely its own interest as an institution. 2) The CDI will in addition provide a public forum for commentary upon the government's policies by recognized popularly admired people, who have therefore, the political wherewithal to be a voice for the community in addressing the activities of the government, or providing their services as 'intermediaries' to achieve consensus for particular pieces of legislation which are passed by the governmental body with knowledge that that is what the people want or don't want. 3) The CDI can in addition be a place to raise or bring to the public mind issues which the government fails to address, whether by political negligence or indifference to their constituencies. 4) In essence, I foresee the CDI operating as a checking mechanism with the government, in a flux of mutual flow of ideas and hard data on issue popularity, both institutions working in tandem for a better society as well as a better and more efficient and responsive government, which is only unresponsive sometimes when it fails to get accurate information. The CDI will assure that social backing of any legislation exists, instead of there being a void between the voting and the activities of the elected officials, into which any amount of misinformation can seep, basically because of the structure of voting practices. The structure of the CDI will provide an assurance of parity for governmental policy decisions. 5) Interestingly enough, the CDI will place human beings at the fore of the fount of information, instead of institutions of television, print, radio. Thus the media which reports the CDI can serving an actual representation of a cross section of society instead of mediating the message of the community back to itself through only through what can generally be 'sold' through pre-existing distribution channels, which can change only as society's markets composition changes, or only as the media's advertising budgets change. The media, with the existence of the CDI, can perform their social duty with efficiency, as well as be assured that they will have buyers for their coverage of information and events concerning a wide audience. Therefore, the CDI and the media will operate on a mutually beneficial basis, the media providing accurate coverage, and assured that their said coverage will have wide buyers. Each are enriched--the public society, by appropriate media coverage, and the media, by inherently wide audiences. 6) The CDI's introduction creates a tripartite concourse of information and feedback, creating a political process which integrates the people at large, assured of having selected reasonable intermediaries by the internal checks and balances of CDI; the government, assured of acting on community consensus; and, the media, assured that their social duty can be performed and they can remain economically viable. How is the CDI structured? The mechanisms of the CDI are as follows. First, a specific opening annual date is determined before the voting of a community's first CDI and instituted as the set date for the commencement of the first round of the voting. The dates of course are changeable later within the structure of the CDI voting if the community is unsatisfied or come to dislike their original choice of the date of commencement. The first round of voting for the CDI occurs throughout the first nine months of the annual period, its beginning date previously set, allowing everyone one vote for anyone they choose to vote for. Anyone's vote throughout this nine months can be withdrawn /added for a particular person they had wished/do wish to nominate throughout the nine month period , allowing for understandable fickleness, the potential of someone falling out of favor with the community, or someone performing an admirable deed which brings recognition late in the nine month span. I wish to make this clear: this is nothing like a manner for voting for predetermined candidates. When I am talking about 'voting,' I am talking about tallying totals for anyone, for any citizen, that anyone wishes to publicly recognize as someone they admire or trust in their community. This is a grass-roots, cultural version of representative, republican democracy-- a way to get public recognition for a wide body of local people and for a potential local politics to develop out of their consensus. Yet it avoid the potential pitfalls of demagoguery and single issue politics of grass roots politics through the structuring of the two-tiers of voting and the voter being allowed to vote for or against any nominee in the second round. The votes are tallied by a choice amongst community organizations or a mix of other community organizations which feel they could do an expedient job and are recognized publicly for such an ability in the community. The totals are published with wide availability by several different publishers, in several different media, to be determined by the community. Throughout the subsequent tenth month, people have a chance to decide and debate publicly upon the people they have recognized individually. It is in the tenth month that the second round of voting begins, everyone allowed a single vote for anyone of their choice, either for or against, for as many people as they wish. Voters can vote for or against as many people on the billet as they want, with one vote per voter per person on the billet, as long as they are not voting twice for the people they have voted for in the first nine month span. The second round of voting allows both for and against voting on the whole roster of individual nominees. The first nine months voting is a nomination process which allows for both for and against voting. This second round of voting ends at the commencement of the eleventh month. Once more, differing media are employed to publish the information of the totals, considering the 'for' votes as positive, the 'against' votes as negative, adding or subtracting respectively from the totals of the first round of the CDI voting. In addition, to provide social parity between the sexes, the smallest number of a particular sex shall be the determining factor for the equal number of the other sex in the CDI, as a means of providing a parity and basis of socialization between the sexes publicly, in addition to a manner of assuring that the CDI is accustomed to discussion amongst and for both sexes equally. Before the sexual parity is achieved though, anyone who has been recognized has the ability within the week after the second tally (7 full days) to, if they so desire, to opt to be unconsidered, to assure the CDI of being comprised of those interested in the intermediary role for which their community feels they would be suited. If a community finds that achievement of sexual parity creates a body which is considered too large for fruitful discussion, a lower multiple (or any multiple) of the number of the lower sex can be agreed upon to be utilized instead of the actual number, thus still achieving sexual parity, with the vote being conducted by the CDI as it stands before any reduction. This is decided upon in the week after the CDI members are given the option to withdraw from their position. If the achievement of sexual parity creates a body which is considered by the CDI too small for fruitful discussion, a different method of determining the size can be instituted within the following tenth month of the subsequent year, thus giving time to see if the phenomenon is repeated, or still holds the public's interest in the subsequent year. The eleventh and twelfth month of the annual year of voting (counting from the date set which is capable of change by the community by popular consensus if so desired every 10th month, during which the second voting for the honorable society occurs), as well as the subsequent nine months (for a total of eleven months) is the duration of a recognized CDI for a particular community. This CDI can set its own meeting times and places and can change them throughout the eleven months of their recognition if they so desire. The accumulation of votes for the next first round of the voting for the subsequent CDI occur on the same specified date as the year before, unless within the second round of voting for the presently recognized CDI the dates of commencement of the first round of voting were changed. To assure that the community is granted at least 5 months to accumulate a different mean total for first round voting, any proposed change of the opening of the first round of voting which shortens the first round voting interval of the next CDI to less than 5 months shall not be allowed. Changes in the voting times occur only during the subsequent CDI's second round of voting and the present CDI is the only body which can table such a motion, with the vote being decided by the community voting at large at the subsequent second round voting for the subsequent CDI. If passed this subsequent CDI's placement extends to the new set date of the installment of the next CDI. The two months before the first round of voting commences once more are structured for the community to witness and judge for themselves the efficacy of the people they voted for and recognized, before commencing to see if they would like them to serve once more, or be removed, in the subsequent CDI. If the case of an individual dying while a member of the honorable society, their position will be offered to the one next in line, considering that of course any subsequent inclusion can change the sexual parity, which can be adjusted concurrently by offering the newly created position to the next who would achieve sexual parity. If no such person exists, then the CDI will continue unchanged. The CDI, by its consensus, sets its own agendas of discussion and introduction, its own researches, its own trips, its own role in the community, its own places of meeting, as well as the manner of procedurally deterring its own consensus, if committee votes are to be taken. Even if they don't get along, valuable information in the form of societal recognition of itself is achieved--without the frustration of electing officers to governmental institutions and discovering that they refuse to work together, or even worse agree together to do nothing. With the CDI, these situations can be addressed within the society, and then governmental policy can be purposefully achieved with a community consensus backing it. The honorable society can be a testing service if you will for future political conceptions, and a much desired place to air public opinions in an era grown hard and silent due to political polarization, where few intermediaries can be found. The CDI selects for intermediaries, and as such is a force for political consensus and peaceable discussion in society. It is not a requirement to have a politics which devolves around the four above categories of politics of exclusion, short term popularity, one issue popularity, and 'landslide' bloc voting practices. These are not inherent problems in politics and unsolvable, but are caused by specific institutional structures which select for them. To introduce something else is to consciously understand the processes of political formulation and design structures which dampen or select against unrepresentative political effects. The CDI makes headway in that direction. Copyright 1996. 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