November 26th, 2007
The duopoly will have its way again in this year's election.
Ralph Nader and whoever the Libertarians and Greens nominate as their candidates will drag their asses around the country, sometimes saying interesting and important things, sometimes not. Many of us will wish, once again, that there could be a dynamic discourse about the many real issues and problems that get ignored; and then we will vote (or not) for the one who has at least a fingernail grip on sanity, or for one of the sad and hopeless alterna-candidates.
But we could make the political season less depressing by using networking tools to create a very large and dynamic discourse about the things that we believe really need to change, and we could evolve a new political organization that would be ready to kick up some noise by the time the next political season (2010) rolls around.
In that spirit, I propose a Liberal/Libertarian/Other unity party that will develop ideas and solutions to America's political problems through an Open Source process that will be engaging and fun. We will have online conferences, social networks and wikis, we will have meetups, we will have parties, we will create games that model likely real world responses to our proposed ideas, we will field candidates starting in 2010, get "crazed" anti-authoritarians on TV and radio, and maybe change a few things before the apocalypse, the Singularity, the second coming, the complete conquest of the world by Google, the election of another generation of Bushes and Clintons, or whatever other event you may be expecting.
There are two ways to go with an Open Source Party. One way would be to just throw it open to everybody. Everyone gets to pour their ideas into the maelstrom whether they're anarchists or fascists, conservatives or moderates — or if they just miss Ross Perot.
But I'm not an absolute believer in the wisdom of crowds and all that. I prefer another idea. I would bring together people who feel they are in agreement with at least 5 of the 7 points in the party platform below – giving us a starting point from which to launch activities on the basis of the platform and to have interesting fun in a democratic process that adds to or subtracts from the platform.
We ask you to please endorse the Open Source Platform below. You can demonstrate your endorsement of the Open Source Platform by joining the dedicated group on the MondoGlobo Network and/or by contributing money to the "establishment campaign." By so doing, you'll send a message to the nation and the world.
Here, then, is the Open Source Party Platform...
1: Let's Have A Democracy
It's a wacky, wacky idea that may have started in early Greece and was cautiously revived during the American Revolution in 1776 when voting rights were granted to property owning white males living in most states of that Union. Since then, the hint of democracy has grown and spread, but the actual practice has been far from complete. Recently, many citizens of the US have questioned whether democracy is still in practice here at all. It's an excellent question. The Open Source Party suggests two steps to ensure actual democracy.
A: One person/one vote: Every US citizen over 18 has a Social Security number. Many activities on the internet are protected from fraud by strong data encryption. Surely, computer geniuses thinking together in an Open Source process can come up with a way that every person over 18 can use his or her number to effectively and efficiently vote once and only once. Citizens can vote from their homes or they can vote from public polling stations using social security numbers tied to data encryption. If this solution isn't possible, let's brainstorm others. Shouldn't actually having a democracy be a priority for the world's oldest "democracy"?
B: Demolish the duopoly: There are dozens of rules and regulations designed by the two political parties that have had a virtual monopoly on power for many decades that prevent other political parties and independents from competing on a fair playing field. We should eliminate all those barriers that give unfair advantage to the ruling parties.
NOTE: There are a number of other ideas that we are not now advocating — including direct majority voting on presidential elections; run-off votes when candidates fail to win 50%; various scenarios to control or change campaign finance and media access in the electoral process; and even direct voting on legislation — that will provoke controversy and discourse within the Open Source Party. Some of these ideas may be added to the platform following a radically open and democratic process that will be suggested at the end of this statement.
2: Let's Have Civil Liberties and a Bill of Rights
Here we have yet another notion that only cranks subscribe to — that civil liberties can survive crime, mind-active substance use, and even terrorism.
For starters, we seek the return of civil liberties, rights, and basic, sane conduct by the Executive branch of government that has been lost in the post 9-11 environment. This includes the reform or repeal of the (mostly) unnecessary Patriot Act; the return of Habeas Corpus; the end of essentially infinite surveillance rights for the federal government; limits to privilege and secrecy in the executive branch; the end of — or the imposition of judicial limits onto — presidential signing statements. (What have I forgotten? You tell me.)
We support strong free speech that includes an end to implicit censorship through government intimidation, and an end to the so-called "War on Drugs," which has resulted in frequent violations against limits on search and seizure and an abhorrently high percentage of US citizens imprisoned.
NOTE: There is plenty of room here for dynamic, open debate among Open Source Party members, including whether to reform or repeal The Patriot Act and what kind of surveillance is necessary and appropriate for the defense of the nation. Also, ending the "drug war" could involve anything from reform of draconian policies and medicalization of illegal drugs, to an outright end to prohibition. Again, we will follow a radically open and democratic process that may add to the party platform.
3: Let's End the Imperial Foreign Policy
Or, if you prefer, let's stop playing the world's policeman. However you phrase it, we should no longer invade or attack sovereign nation states, either directly or indirectly, that haven't attacked us by force of arms. The emphasis of American foreign policy needs to change from "defending our interests" to "defending our sovereignty."
NOTE: Here we can have a dynamic discussion about many possible aspects of defending the US, including, the size of the military budget and the interests of what President Eisenhower called a military-industrial complex; what to do about weapons systems and weapons testing (including nuclear); whether we should provide weapons to other nations and under what circumstances; whether to allow mercenary groups to operate out of the US; whether and when to participate and help in peace negotiations among other nations as a humanitarian act; whether and when to participate with other nations in interventions in extreme cases of genocide; whether or when to intervene in extreme cases if and when another nation launches repeated interventions of its own and seems clearly bent on regional or global conquest in the tradition of Genghis Khan, Napolean and Hitler; how to cope with the development of nuclear weapons by other nations (and by our own); whether or not to have military alliances and what our degree of commitment to them should be; and whether and when to cooperate with the UN.
4: A New "Energy Task Force"
A tremendous number of energy pioneers have been thinking and working for decades on energy solutions that don't involve oil, natural gas or coal. These organizations include Rocky Mountain Institute, Pliny Fisk’s Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems, and the folks at WorldChanging, ad infinitum. Let's bring people like these together to map out how best to bring us as completely into the age of clean energy as possible within 10-20 years — whether through the state, the market, decentralized voluntarism, or all three.
NOTE: Obviously, there's nearly infinite room here for debate and discussion about these solutions, but we imagine a passionate discourse about whether the transition can happen primarily through encouragement of the market or whether it should emphasize government solutions. We also look forward to an interesting debate among Open Source Party members over whether to develop and deploy more nuclear power.
5: Let's Explore The Possibility of an Open Source Monetary System
Monetary policies and systems change all the time and it is always necessary to remind ourselves that "money" is a symbol (presumably) of wealth, and not an actual material value. We should encourage and empower a public discourse around how money should be issued, understood, defined and valued. Ultimately, we may want to think in terms of an "Open Source" monetary system and we may want to encourage "alternative" forms of currency.
NOTE: Again, there is nearly infinite room for new ideas and debate here, including questioning the essential premise — thus the "let's explore" aspect of this part of the platform. Open Source currency may be achievable through networks of trust, through virtual money (like Linden Dollars) or simply by removing the state from the equation and then publicly encouraging a multiplicity of exchange signals. We are most of all intrigued by ideas that might lead toward a post-scarcity monetary system.
6: Let's End Corporate Personhood and Other Rules that Unfairly Advantage Corporations
Corporations today have the rights but not the responsibilities of persons, and our laws are riddled with other advantages that tilt the balance of economic and political power in favor of these giants. This platform suggests a simple libertarian approach toward disempowering what some have called the corporatocracy by removing their state advantages.
Note: There is tremendous room for discussion and debate about other measures to rein in corporations, including — no doubt — discourse about whether to simply take away corporate advantages or to regulate them, democratize them, utilize the corporate approval process to punish corruption and/or anti-social activities, ad infinitum.
7: Let My Web People Go!
Digital stuff exists in a land without scarcity. It is natural and spontaneous that when people reside there, they tend to share and to re-purpose content without guilt. On the other hand, "content creators" need to pay bills just as much as programmers and other virtual laborers do. We need to support the natural evolving ecology of copying and sharing on the web. At the same time, we need to find a way to sufficiently reward creative content.
Note: This requires lots of real creative thinking and there is lots of room for discussion and debate around the nuances of netiquette and law.
Democratic Processes Within an Open Source Party
We suggest that decisions to take on "official" activities and to make additions or subtractions to and from the Open Source Party platform would take place along the lines of "near consensus." We would suggest a 75% yes vote among registered members would be requuired to adopt any action or platform point. We also suggest that the democratic process would include serious campaigning and some degree of hilarity.
We suggest that erecting a pay wall would be instrumental not only in helping to finance a dynamic organization but necessary to keep out all but the most motivated griefers, and help us to verify the legitimacy of voters, who would vote only once. Naturally, we would hope that enthusiasts who can would contribute substantially more.
We imagine that this in-group, Open Source, participatory democratic process could be a way in which people who have been more or less on the fringe of American politics can encourage one another to think clearly in terms of actually making policy. It's very easy to stand outside the system and protest or call for some absolutist ideological solution ("Anarchy, dudes!"), but it's more interesting and valuable to try to realistically envision the consequences of policy. We also want to emphasize again the ample potential to keep this playful — to create dynamic virtual worlds (in Second Life, or wherever), games, fanciful as well as serious candidacies, videos and podcasts, songs, etc. Such media can now be created by a large proportion of the general internet public, so why not do it?
Note: Special thanks to Jon Lebkowsky for help and encouragement with this document. The Open Source Party is currently a gleam in the eye and not an extant organization.
Visit our newly re-purposed MondoGlobo Network to get more involved with this idea and/or in a social network for people who question authority.
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