Governance

This article is based on my ideas about the Great Turning Movement. If you aren’t familiar with them, click here. It is linked to from my article Visions of a Regenerative Society. It describes how governance might look in a transformed society.

Just as our U.S. forefathers recognized the need for separation of church and state, the next era will require the separation of wealth and state. Money will be prohibited from influencing the democratic system the way it does now, where politicians are beholden to corporations and the rich who make massive donations to their re-elections campaigns, without which they couldn’t get re-elected, and, therefore, they essentially own the politicians, By having strict rules to keep money out of politics, we will have a chance to return to a real democracy.

For elections, the new society will have instant run-off or ranked choice voting, where voters rank the candidates in order of preference. This means that voters never have to choose between the lesser of evils. Most important, it allows for third parties to have true influence, making for a much more democratic process, as is already happening in some countries.

However, we will go much further than this. In a regenerative society, political decisions will be made in the spirit of a cooperative effort to envision and enact the best policy, not primarily in adversarial terms, as we have it now. This adversarial approach has led to extreme left-right polarization in the U.S. People will learn to entertain multiple perspectives from different people and groups on political issues and not just assume that they are right and everyone else wrong.

Citizens will take an active interest in public issues, taking the time to educate themselves about the issues that are important to them and discussing them with others, including those of a different political persuasion in order to truly understand the issue and come to a good policy decision. Citizens will be more actively involved in decision making whenever possible, not just through electing representatives. For example, in many cases, decisions will be made and laws passed by a vote of all the people, not just congress. Participatory budgeting is an example of this that is already happening, which allows residents of a community to vote directly on how a portion of the public money will be spent.

Some decisions will be made by a Wisdom Council, which is a randomly selected group of citizens who meet, become educated about some thorny question, and are facilitated to come to a wise and often creative decision about how to proceed. This can happen because the people will be helped to entertain multiple perspectives in a creative process. They will not be influenced by money, ego, power-seeking, or any of the other processes that currently poison our democracy. This is just one example of citizens’ deliberative councils, which have been used in some local government situations. Tom Atlee (Empowering Public Wisdom: A Practical Vision of Citizen-Led Politics) has written extensively about this approach, including his vision of a wise democracy.

The new era will mean much greater involvement and influence of civil society on political decisions. Civil society includes non-governmental organizations, non-profits, social change organizations, community groups, religious organizations, and so on. These organizations have taken a back seat to corporations in power, and this will change in a regenerative society.

The new era will involve a far-reaching extension of the United Nations, creating a system of (at least partial) global governance that is democratic and just. This governing body will eventually gain control over international military power, therefore ending war. Just as there never could be a war between New York and New Jersey, so this will end wars between nations. Of course, we must be careful of the danger that this world government could be taken over by a non-democratic or fascist power, so this must be assiduously guarded against.

Despite having this international governing body, most political decisions will be made at as local a level as possible. Only when a problem is truly international in scope—such as climate change, migration, or human rights—will the world government have a say in it.