Below are the basic things which need to be done to complete this interactive story. There is a role for nearly everyone in America. Readers and supporters will have to figure out for themselves what role they want to take and when, what narrative they want to flesh out, and what niche they belong in among the many in the National Character Program.
Completing the Story
This section is about completing the story. That requires you readers to advance the narratives, fill in the details, and write a happy ending. This section states what has to be done, by whom, when, and how long it will take.
This book has introduced the main characters–private and public citizens, described a social milieu–the individualist/capitalist ethos, and provided a bit of the back story of 230+ years of elite dominance and the failed attempts to end it. It itemizes what the lower classes need in a new, advanced society. It explains why the elements are present now for the little people to rewrite the story they are living now with the help of a theoretically sound vision and a practical plan.
What we aren't sure of is the existence of the will of Americans to undertake the hard work required for major, permanent social change and the patience to wait for the program elements to mature. But, it is certain that we can either write our own story or continue to allow the elite to have one for us. We already know what that is like!
What Has To Be Done?
1. Distribute the ideas to academics and public intellectuals and influencers for their assessment of its validity and feasibility. Convince Big Influencers and cue-givers at all levels who may support the movement to become early sponsors and to spread the ideas to their followers and cue-takers. We need leaders of progressive organizations to adapt the ideas for themselves and spread them among like-minded others. We will release copies of the book on the Internet and social media sites to generate attention from the general public. The materials are made available free of charge covered by a Creative Commons License.
2. Educate, collaborate, and revise. We either rely on supportive geeks and communication expert volunteers to start the digital infrastructure or engage professionals to do it. Here we want to educate and inspire the public, engage them in collaboration, revise the theory and plan as necessary, and build a buzz, as they say, to resonate among the public about a unique new social movement. This book is simply a Version 1.0 and a sketch and there will be additional minds who can offer important input to improve and extend it.
3. Build the Brand: The Program needs a unique identity. It has to offer a simple storyline of the little guys pushing back on the elite. That means focusing on just the major values of BMR and Smart governance, at least at the beginning. We need to convince existing organizations and activists to buy into the leverage concept—the need to consolidate (or at least coordinate) under the single brand. We need a single focus and accessibility to make it easy for everyone to understand and participate. We can eventually establish a mental "trigger," so to speak, which will bring BMR to mind in most aspects of daily life for most people, make attention to BMR become an every day habit, and have the Local Council network (see Chapter 8) continuously accessible for everyone, for purposes of pushback.
The Brand equals: a focus on basic values, a single consolidated organization (the Big Voice), and accessibility for everyone resulting in a historical unique sort of leverage, we can call the Big Stick! The little people will develop a class consciousness of sorts, develop an attitude of entitlement to BMR, and learn to push back against the existing ethos in nearly every aspect of their daily lives, assisted by the Local Council network and a digital Dashboard (for accessibility.)
Ordinary Marys and Johns will be made attentive to these things:
-the difference between Me People (private citizens) and We People (public citizens)
-the general public will insist upon a balance of private and public interests
-human meanings are going to be required to be accepted by the economic system whether it likes it or not
-there will be respect for good social character and living the small life well, with rewards
-everyone should have pride in themselves regardless of social status; being the best that one can be is the new standard of success
-a brainless, anti-collective governance system will no longer be tolerated
4. Build Out The Best Practices Templates
Although the program is fundamentally an approach to problem-solving and not content-oriented, it will produce content in the form of planning, problem-solutions, and best practices templates. The templates will cover a range of matters from political campaigning and elections; owner-employee relationships; business-consumer relationships; “How to be a Good Parent, Neighbor, and Voter, etc.;” and many more.
The templates will be professionally designed guides of decision-making and behaviors. The idea is to make it easy for people to be Good Citizens, Parents, Businessmen, and the like. In an environment of constant demands, complexity, and insufficient time to get things done (much less done well), most people just might embrace help like this. You can call it "Nanny State" stuff but a better way of thinking of it is extended, continuous, social conditioning and cue-giving, like that of parents, coaches, teachers, bosses, etc. If after turning 18 years old someone considers himself to be fully mature and responsible and capable of consistent success in our world without help he is delusional!
Keep in mind that the templates are drawn from the perspective of the collective interest (something foreign to American culture), unike the many proprietary guides to behaviors for self-interested activities.
5. Build out the Big Voice
For generations, hundreds and thousands of progressive activists of all kinds have worked very hard on all kinds of progressive issues. They have combated Big Business, those with short-term perspectives and ignorant mindsets, and even "dumb" governments. There have been some successes, of course, but for the most part they have not pushed back the dominant individualist/capitalist ethos much at all. The enemy, so to speak, has remained mostly unaffected. Those efforts at changing the status quo by those separate groups pursuing separate issues are like mere pinpricks on a Leviathan and have been comfortably ignored or marginalized by the elite class.
Not only that, these efforts have failed to inspire and mobilize exactly what those activists need to deliver effective blows from a “Big Stick” upon the elite. That requires the focused involvement of millions of the little people. These well-meaning, hard working groups are mostly distinct entities with different focuses and goals, competing for the same limited resources, striving for attention of the public among thousands of others, and making it impossible for the little people to comprehend all of the activity much less be mobilized by it.
That consolidation and mobilization is absolutely key to pushback. We have to make it easy for people to participate. To repeat, that means a single brand with a simple, direct set of values and goals, a single organization (at least as the separate groups interface with the Brand), and an accessible way for everyone to participate as they see fit.
All of that becomes the Big Voice for mobilization and the Big Stick for pushback!
Our bridgers and node builders (see Chapter 9) will help to make this happen by consolidating and/or coordinating organizations, focusing efforts and spending limited money more efficiently, and finding niches in the movement for all activists. That formulation will be coordinated by the National Council and the Support and Local Councils.
6. Start the National Conventions and the Grand Reconciliation Project
The movement will want to develop credibility right away. That means developing formal structures and processes as it will become a big (even though loose) organization which requires management. That organization will do these things:
-establish a formal presence upon which all other aspects can build upon
-be a visible representative of the new social movement
-represent the fundamental principles and goals of the movement
-demonstrate the weightiness of the movement as the organization grows and matures
-develop credibility for the endeavor
-start defining the new social category of public citizen (versus private citizen)
-demonstrate the inclusivity theme of the program by uniting all kinds of people with varying interests, skills, and intentions under a common good perspective
The national conventions will be early meetings of people who support the movement. They will likely be organized by those with production, management, and Big Project experience. They will recruit other similar people and delegate tasks so that, eventually, the program starts to look like a serious movement.
The conventions will have both process and content meetings. Process meetings will be for the formal structure and operations. Content meetings will be about specific planning, problem-solving, and social conditioning projects. Each type will be populated with a different set of people – management and organizational types for the former and experts and content professionals for the latter (e.g., academics, substantive experts, etc.)
There will be a separate organizational process for the Grand Reconciliation Project. That can be expected to be a longer, more contentious endeavor. It requires a different set of people–representing all of the major identity and position groups in America. There hopefully will be a set of fair-minded, empathetic, rational folks acting in good faith to see social themes in new ways and reframe what we have. They could result in doing Great Things!
Having a distinguished, diverse set of Great Americans come up with a new social constitution would be a major event and become a historical one if they can convince (by a variety of strategies) their followers to accept it. The movement will be a systemwide paradigmatic change not unlike the upsetting of the monarchies in the 18th-Century, the expansion of federal jurisdiction in America in the 1930’s to 1970’s, and the (mostly) successful race and gender rights movements.
It will take charismatic and persuasive people to organize a set of members of groups used to combating each other. Is it foolhardy or reasonable to expect to convince representatives of every major identity and interest group to want to rise above the 18th-Century ideas which now frame our governance and social relations and come up with something new? That's where the bridging people will be most active (see below.) Sometimes new ideas make so much sense that they can't be ignored. It could be that only the hard-core partisans and rigid-minded would object to the intentions.
The new social constitution which could develop out of this project will highlight a collective perspective, Rawlsian fairness, a new level of social trust, and moral and practical credibility. It will be a new (21st -Century new) and very different approach and require millions of people to re-reorient how they see and think about major social issues.
7. Create the National Councils
a. A preliminary National Council can be set up once the program has some momentum. There will be a quick, initial nomination and selection process set up by the Support Council replaced later by a nationwide process involving the general public. Some potential candidates would include people who have the high profile, good social character, macro-level experience, professional visions, and collective perspectives on the order of Jimmy Carter, futurist Ray Kurzweil, news columnist David Brooks, Barack Obama, Pope Francis, Warren Buffett, and similar others. (We don't necessarily want mostly "old guard" people but those with the right characteristics.)
b. The Communication Council ought to be set up early on to build the digital infrastructure and collaboration tools.
c. The Local Council can be built out mostly from the bottom up, likely by consolidation and/or coordination of existing progressive groups and new organizations of all kinds at the grassroots level, with the assistance of node builders.
d. The Support Council can be built out in phases. It has a lot of functions but will start out organizing volunteers and obtaining funding.
e. The Information Council can be built out in phases, too. It will have the largest set of functions and some of the more complicated ones.
f. The Policy and Problem-Solving Council can start developing its own infrastructure which may require not too much more than a network overlay over existing intellectual and professional resources, like think tanks, academics in university departments, and similar sources. A coordinating committee will guide its development, selection of projects, and manage the content teams to get them started, at least.
In order for it to actually solve problems this Council is going to have to earn some credibility first. But, at a minimum, it can start designing preliminary white paper and/or blueprints designs of problem-solving projects while keeping them in hand until society is ready for it to act. Since it has no formal authority itself it will have to advise with legal government, coordinate with major social institutions, and earn the support of the public. Like with most of the movement, the Council may have to impose itself upon supporters of the existing system utilizing pushback techniques.
g. The Planning Council development will be similar to the Policy and Problem-Solving Council, for most of the same reasons. Reaching an implementation phase may take longer as it will need the others in place for it to incorporate its functions with theirs.
h. The National University is not a priority as its functions are medium to long-term in any case. It may develop an academic program early on and get it institutionalized but it will take time to develop the curriculum, leaders, and managers we expect and even longer for the graduates to become effectively absorbed in social roles.
8. Amending the U.S. Constitution
This is a medium to long term project. Firstly, we will have to have our own legal experts carefully design the specific amendments being sure to keep their expected consequences limited only to what is necessary to implement the program’s goals. We don't want to add content provisions as that will be beyond what the program stands for–smartness in approach–not specific new rights, etc. Good outcomes, however, ought to derive from a good approach. Secondly, we can't let this process become a free-for-all where special interests, political partisans, and even well-meaning public citizens attempt to load up the amendment process and eventually stymie the whole attempt.
-Here are some of the amendments of the Constitution we might propose:
-Article 1–extend terms of office; decrease the relative ratio of House Representatives to citizens; rework the proportional scheme in the Senate to reflect modern population realities and democratic ideals
-Article 1 of the Bill of Rights – rework the free speech provisions to allow campaign and elections reforms to minimize the ability of the elite to dominate discourse in the public sphere and its influence upon elections and the political processes
- Article 4 of the Bill of Rights–update privacy rights in the Internet Age. (This is a substantive provision but fits in well timewise with the amendment process and implies smartness and fairness issues.)
-Article 17—rework the Senate proportionality provisions.
If we are lucky enough, readers and supporters will like the ideas and recommend the book to like-minded people who will then turn the nascent vision into a serious social movement.
Maybe sympathetic university professors will have study sessions and seminars; labor and political organizations will have conferences and lycea; bloggers and social network mavens will introduce the ideas into the blogosphere and to audiences online; journalists, political pundits, and TV/radio commentators will explore the ideas with the general public and get reactions from them and generate more interest and buzz; and business and non-profit leaders will provoke their organizations and members to rethink missions and organizational philosophies.
Ideally, the Program ultimately will resonate with millions of Americans, many of whom might be thrilled to be participants in something so different, ambitious, and promising.