Not libertarianism, not socialism, something completely different
November 27, 2011 6:27 AM   Subscribe

Where would I go to collaborate on re-architecting government?

I have been thinking about governmental structures and their systematic effects ever since I had taken my first civics classes. Then, over the course of 25 years, I've gone from the 99th percentile in income all the way through the 2nd percentile. So, I believe I have formed a unique perspecive on living in America. I want to put that perspective and my thoughts on governmetnal structure to use in positive ways. I want to stop thinking about it and do something.

I have always thought that it would be close to impossible to change anything. But then recently, we have seen the tea party and the occupy wallstreet movements. We have seen the rise of a radical politician in Ron Paul. I certainly don't agree with his approach or values, but it gives me hope that things can change.

I truly believe that the US can change through civic reform. I believe that there are fundamental structures of the constitution that would allow for radial re-tooling of the current system.

Is there a place that I can go to meet with civic-minded, open-minded people who want to take on this daunting challenege? I am done with thinking and theorizing, and I want to challenge my ideas and put theory into action.
posted by TheOtherSide to Law & Government (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: By the way, I should stress that I'm not looking for governmental or policital debate, in itself. I am fairly convinced that very few people have changed their beliefs by reading stuff online.
posted by TheOtherSide at 6:36 AM on November 27, 2011

Start local. Many of the most enduring changes have happened from the bottom up, not vice versa. I am more suspicious of any party that comes out of nowhere at the national level without having earned its stripes on the very basic community level. Local politics has a more direct effect on peopleĀ“s lives than anything else.
posted by JJ86 at 6:47 AM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Attend an Occupy Wall Street General Assembly.

(And consider retiring "architect" as a verb. It's jargon like that -- which I think comes from software and information science -- which keeps theory from having real world implications. Government is not a static structure. It is an active communicative process. The metaphor of "architecture" is of only limited utility anyway. Our architecture -- assuming you are referring to the US -- is fine, if crumbling under the weight of moneyed influence. The founders built a solid house in the US constitution and bill of rights, considering the several important additions added on by later generations. But most of democratic politics is convincing people to act one way and not another way, not reorganizing the structures within which they have the possibility of action.)
posted by spitbull at 7:02 AM on November 27, 2011

Where do you live? Are there local political campaigns that you could work for or with? Reform doesn't happen in a big bang--there's lots of incremental steps that have to happen, and the people and the organizations that work towards reform/new ideas, etc. really need people who are willing to do the everyday chores, rather than gather at a community center or church basement and pontificate (not that you would do that.) Ringing doorbells, making phone calls--these are tasks that are necessary but not sexy.

You could try forming your own coalition for reform, but I'd bet that there are groups already in place. Personally, I'd steer clear of community-based organizations that exist only to get grant money and keep office staff employed, but that's just me. Could you organize a program of speakers?
posted by Ideefixe at 9:24 AM on November 27, 2011

I recommend becoming mayor of your town as an independent. You'll be able to fix real problems locally, and as an independent you'll be able to work better with Rs and Ds at the state level to change laws using your experience as an argument.

If you're into straight up architecting, increase your income so you can get into the .1% and attend TED and Bilderberg and scheme with Jamie Dimon and whatnot. I kid, sort of.
posted by michaelh at 10:04 AM on November 27, 2011

May as well plug MeFite (ex-ish) Andy Baio and Anil Dash's Expert Labs.

It sounds to me like you're not a nuts-and-bolts guy, more of a blueprint sort. You probably would want to pursue a Master's degree in government or public policy, seize on a specialty, and then seek a Fellowship at a think tank. I love talking about this stuff on the abstract level, myself, but I'm more pragmatic and down to earth from my experience, and "re-architecting" is a pretty far-reaching goal.

Heck, just the idea of professional city management took decades to take root, and even with broad success of the form, you have cities going backwards to mayoral politics. Look at the decades that it took to get major health care reform passed. This is a process measured not even in years but in multiple people's careers. So don't get too starry-eyed at the outset.

I'd also caution against getting too off in the woods. I mean, you have people like the Jennifer Government fellow who are coming up with stuff that's potentially neat, potentially awful, but so far out of the US mainstream it's unlikely to see real implementation.

And if you go the route of joining up with a larger movement, say, of progressive-minded people, you're going to have to deal with a lot of entrenched mindsets even there about ideal reforms. If you have actual new ideas, Barry's route might be better for you -- a website or book or whatnot that will attract followers to you.
posted by dhartung at 7:36 PM on November 27, 2011

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