A lot of people are worried that the world is going to fall into a pre WWII mindset of following a lunatic towards massive racism, and potentially even genocide if we are not careful, here I show you how Trump is good for societies everywhere.
I don’t think that at all. I believe this is a massive opportunity, or wake up call to all people around the globe to pay attention! With so many people disillusioned with politics, more and more of us are ignoring it, and those who are paying attention are forgetting to discuss, influence and change opinions that, clearly, are still rife in society.
It is time for the people, not just politicians, to lead. To get out there and talk with people on the other side, to see their point of view, understand it, and influence each other towards a common goal. One thing we will have to do is drop the insults and start to recognise and identify with the other side, whichever side that is. We are all in the same society, a growing global one, where borders are coming down and we are closer than ever with so many beautiful cultures and people that we can make life amazing with a few small changes to the way we discuss issues and make decisions, a move away from bickering and name calling towards solution focused outcomes
The Australian Way
In Australia our system of democracy is that of a representative democracy, where we choose someone, or more often a party to represent our views. (That is the Lower House, or the House of Representatives, or the smaller piece of paper on Election Day).
We then also choose a group of people to oversee the first group, there are 12 per state, and we vote for just 6 of them each Election, These people sit in the Upper house, the Senate, or the red room at Parliament house. That choice is made on the really big piece of white paper we usually put a 1 in on Election Day.
These people are really quite powerful in changing the direction of the country, due to the complex way that the votes are counted. They actually represent a wider cross section of society and there is a large cross-bench that is made up of minor parties and independents. They usually get to make huge decisions that affect the whole country, just because they are on the cross-bench. Think Ricky Muir or Derryn Hinch (VIC), Jacqui Lambie (TAS), David Leyonhjelm (NSW), Pauline Hanson (QLD) and Nick Xenophon (SA).
The Opportunity for systemic change, without changing the system
Currently when we go to the polls on Election Day, we look at that list of over 50 names, and have no idea who 90% of them even are, let alone what they stand for, if they have any integrity or would make a good cross-bench decision maker. Nick Xenophon has proven to be a great member of the cross-bench, carefully weighing up options and deciding on what is best for the country, but on average they are not very representative.
I propose to change all that, without any need to change anything systemically (which could take decades). We could easily have a better representation of the all of us in the Senate, ensuring the cross-bench is full of great, integrity driven people that will hold the MPs to account like they really should. Ideally it would be great to do this with all the politicians, but one step at a time, right? Hear me out.
How to get great politicians in the Senate?
So I know the feeling, the Senate ticket is over 1m long in so many states, how would everyone in the State go out there and care enough about this to vet those names, and choose better representatives? Well we wouldn’t – essentially that would never happen!
So how do we do it?
Imagine this, a small group that truly represents a full cross section of society, people from the far left, the centre, the far right, people from the silent majority etc, gets together and fully vets the entire list of candidates. They do this by interviewing them, getting to know them, gathering information about them and then together they write a report and a guide on how to vote for their choice.
This report is then made available to the public online, for free. Some of the members of the cross section may go out and publicise the report on Morning Radio/ TV. Organisations like Get Up and (insert right wing think tank) might even publicise it/ use their organisation to hand out the report, or links to the report on Election Day. There will be a 1 page version that you can read in the queue to vote on Election Day.
I call it the Citizens Think Tank.
How do you get a true cross section of society?
Let me introduce an age old concept to you here – sortition. It has been used in democracies going as far back as the ancient Solonian Constitution of Athens.
Basically it is a random selection of citizens in a jurisdiction (say Victoria) chosen by lot. The common name is citizens jury, as it is much like jury duty. If we allow a jury of our peers to choose life and death for us in the courts, so I am sure they could weigh up the evidence on a bunch of senators, and decide on them.
If you are not convinced about the Citizens Jury, then I implore you to go read more about it, the New Democracy Foundation has been running many hugely successful citizen’s juries around Australia. They have gotten the art of selecting a cross section by lot and the science of how many people in a jury down pat, and have had lots of practice at making it happen. To read more about it, take a look at the New Democracy Foundation website.
The Citizens Think Tank CTT might roll out like this.
A group of concerned citizens get together and create a Not for Profit to run the CTT. We then raise donations to run the first CTT in Victoria for the next federal election.
We raise about $2.20 per person in Victoria, around $10M. We then send an opt-in letter to all registered voters explaining the CTT and how they could choose to be a part of the random selection by opting in.
The City of Melbourne Jury had 8000 respondents, of which a jury of 43 was randomly selected.
In conjunction with the NdF, CTT would randomly select a jury in readiness for the upcoming election.
The Citizens Jury Process
The jury would then meet for 3-5 weekends during the election campaign period, 1-2 weekends before nominations close and then 2-3 times as allowed/ required in the 23-30 days[i] prior to Election day after the nominations have closed.
First job of the Jury would be to decide on what overall direction they would like the State/ Nation to go in, and what traits they would like in the candidates, setting aside political biases and opting to choose what is best for everyone.
Second job would be to assess all the candidates with any evidence they could gather, for example they might invite them to appear for interviews, read websites and other publications, hire Private Investigators to do research (if budget allowed) and really dig deep into each candidate.
Third job is to write a report and a 1 page voting guide, to be created and published 3-8 days prior to Election day.
The Jury would be invited to help publicise the process, and willing volunteers from the Jury would appear on relevant media outlets to talk about the process and suggest people sign up to be notified of the report publication on the CTT website.
The report would be published, emails sent out to interested citizens, and the election would happen. We would see a huge change in the way the Senate is chosen, as people read the report and take the advice of their fellow citizens that have taken the time to fully assess all the candidates and choose the best order, and therefore essentially choosing the Crossbench.
This would enable change to the way we “do” politics, without any need for systemic change.
What is next?
The success of this method in one State would lead to an expansion to having a jury in every State write a report for the next election and see a massive swing towards integrity in the Senate. Eventually leading to smaller juries being had for each lower house seat or division as the AEC call it, ensuring that the people who represent us are truly representing us, and being held to account at a much higher level as citizens become more aware of the political system, and see how a jury of their peers doing a deep assessment of the candidates will be a much better system of choosing representatives than the current random picking that we see in the polling booth today.
See stats on Dummy voting, how names and position on the paper lead to high voter.
The real next is for you to show interest in this concept. Commit to it, enough to explain it to 3 people, don’t just share this post, I want you to personally connect with 3 people and explain it to them, get their feedback, then share this post on social, tag them into the post, and they can do the same thing. This requires OLD school virility, the type that involved a phone call or coffee meeting, or discussion of the dinner table. It is far too complex an idea to be described in 140 characters, or even a Fb post with video etc.
If you are really keen then post a comment below, connect with me, let me know you support this idea. If you are really keen then send me a few bucks on Paypal (email@example.com), this is not a tax deduction, and don’t expect anything from it, it is just social proof that you are truly committed to change, this change, or at least a much more refined version of this change. What would I do with the money, well if I get over $100 then I can buy a domain name and create a basic website, if I get a few hundred then it might cover the costs of setting up the Not for Profit. If I get a few thousand, then I will pour it into the Not for Profit and track you down to give you a tax deductible receipt, given you donated towards that.
I don’t want anything from this, certainly not any financial benefit. I see however a direct benefit to me and society as a whole from having a Senate and politicians who actually represent our views and have our interests foremost in their daily decision.