Democratic Deliberation Among Geeks

For future reference, here’s some articles about how deliberative polling may resemble open source and Web 2.0 development practices.

There’s lots of ways to do this badly, but even a single way to apply the lessons wisely could revolutionize our understanding of governance.

Billy Rojas: 10 Principles of Radical Centrism

A great summary of general principles we seek to follow. — Ernie P.

Prepared by :  B Rojas  /   Nov 8 , 2010  /  Revised  Nov 10,  2010

10 Principles of Radical Centrism

( 1 ) RC is anti-partisan, it is more than “non-partisan”
This principle should not be taken too far. About specific issues partisanship
may well be in order. And there is respect for partisanship when it is appropriate,
such as among leaders of a political party, or at various “inspire the troops” events.
But party-line thinking is abhorrent to RC. It is axiomatic that each major party
will be wrong about 40 % of the time, with the 20 % difference ( between the two
parties ) in the category of uncertainty ,  or right-and-wrong .Obviously this general
idea  also applies to “other” parties or political philosophies.

( 2 ) RC seeks to learn whatever is useful or good
from all political movements or causes.
The exceptions, in principle, are totalitarian ideologies  Yes, even here, it is
worthwhile to study the hard Left or the far Right, but the point is that
extreme caution is necessary and ANY ideas which might be borrowed
from either persuasion need to pass serious tests to screen out even
a hint of authoritarian values. Otherwise we are open to new and useful

ideas  from just about anywhere on the political spectrum, Greens, Libertarians,
Social Democracy, the Constitution Party, and you-name-it, even if, by
the nature or American politics, most, by far, of what we are all about
is within a range of views from Democrats on the Left to
Republicans on the Right.

( 3 )  RC seeks creative “out of the box” solutions to problems .
This says that partisanship  –any party–  blocks some solutions
because there are pre-established priorities set by a political ideology.
Therefore, forget partisanship and seek a new solution from scratch
if, that is, objectively the new solution is really worthwhile.

( 4 ) RC seeks to solve problems by seeking to find a synthesis
between extremes that incorporates the best from Left and Right.
The qualification is that this is just one option, it is not  the only option to seeking
to solve problems. This makes RC partly Hegelian, which, as I see it,
is all for the Good.  It is important to note, however, that RC is NOT

a fusion of Social Liberalism and Fiscal Conservatism, a combination
that has sometimes inaccurately been designated as Radical Centrism.
Actual RC is issue-by-issue in character such that Radical Centrists
may well be 60 / 40 conservative on social issue and 60 / 40 liberal
on fiscal issues, or still other configurations, 70 / 30, 50/ 50 and so forth.

( 5 ) RC is based on ”  cafeteria politics.”
RC offers a platform for Independent voters to put together, as seems
smart and good to each Indy, a combination of  positions on issues taken from
both Left and Right  –and sometimes Other– in new ways. This obviously
is also only one alternative within RC.  But the point is that a significant number
of issues are pretty much set in concrete,  and not much can be added by way of
discussion to what they are. The problem of diminishing returns applies
to political ideas too. How much additional research or deep thinking
can possibly “refine” the abortion debate further ?  Same for teaching
evolution in the schools. To use these examples as metaphor for all other
such issues, one is a typical Right view, the other a typical Left view.
A Radical Centrist may say that both are Good, combining clearly
solid Left and solid Right positions.And this may be the case for
100 other issues. But if it really is RC there will be an approximate
balance, over all, although the exact mix may vary, year to year.

( 6 ) RC insists that all positions one takes should be researched.
The ideal is the informed voter. RC places a premium on education
as a general rule which applies specifically to politics. “Research”
assumes serious thinking, testing ideas, and all the rest.

( 7 )  RC prefers market solutions to problems.
However, this principle does not say “only” market based solutions.
It is easy to think of a good number of areas where government has offered
the best alternatives, from the Interstate highway system created under
Dwight D Eisenhower to development of the ARPENET and then the Internet,
to today’s work at NASA in developing a host of new technologies with considerable
potential for the entire US economy. But we prefer market solutions as much as
possible, including solutions which arise from competition in the “marketplace of ideas.”

( 8 ) RC requires that all issues anyone champions should be moral.
Exactly what this morality should consist of is open to discussion and debate
but it is safe to say that one version of this morality compares to the morality
of Evangelical Christians. However, this also says that compatible moralities
for example of many or most Buddhists, is also Radical Centrist in character.

( 9 ) RC finds its highest political ideals in the US Constitution
before all other sources
This hardly says that there aren’t other sources, everything from the Code of Hammurabi
to British common law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but the
US Constitution has a special place in RC thought and no ideas advocated
by Radical Centrists which can be deemed “unconstitutional” are acceptable.
When Radical Centrists arrive at new ideas which the Constitution does not address,
or when functional problems with the Constitution or its amendments are identified,
it is always acceptable to suggest new amendments.

( 10 )  RC is dedicated to responsible free speech
This means exactly what it says. Not all speech is responsible and free speech rights
can be abused. But otherwise Radical Centrists take the view that the First Amendment
is inviolable and essential to any kind of valid politics  –and much else. People should
be free to express their honest thoughts. Censorship, either de jure or de facto,
is abhorrent on principle. But in exercise of free speech it is our responsibility
to be constructive, fair, and honest. This may mean controversy, it may mean
criticisms of  vested interests and of public persons, but when we feel we should,
in conscience, speak out, that is our prerogative.   For this reason we feel an

affinity with many libertarians, who share this outlook,  even though, because
we regard morality as social necessity and libertarians seem to have
no obvious morality,  we are not libertarians ourselves even if some of us
are influenced by libertarianism. But others may be more influenced
by Teddy Roosevelt or a variety of personal heroes,

How to Fix California

I’ve collected my thoughts about how to apply Silicon Valley-style “disruptive innovation” to the problems of California’s governance.  Let me know what you think.

How To Fix California: From Myths to Reality