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Who Needs Community Listening?
Who Is Being Asked?
Two Ways to Improve
Misconceptions to Improving
New Measures of Civic Engagement
In your lifetime, have any of your candidates or elected officials asked you what your concerns are? Click here to discover that we're not alone.
What are your concerns? Click here to see if you share the concerns of 100 of my neighbors.
I've spoken to over 4,000 people about my Community Listening System proposal. I am profoundly touched when people say things such as, “Thank you for doing this,” or “It's nice to know someone is out there working on this.”
Only a handful of people have voiced their opposition to having a Community Listening System:
I Like Sole / Direct Access One woman I spoke to about my Community Listening System proposal told me she did not like it. She said, “I like having sole access to my elected officials so my ideas prevail.”
Two other women told me they do not want anyone between them and their elected officials. These two are high up in advocacy organizations or have held elected roles. They are part of the system the average person doesn't have access to, and they feel comfortable approaching their electeds at any time.
Do you want access to your elected officials or are you willing to let a minority of people get their voices heard instead of yours?
It Will Cost Too Much According to my back-of-the-envelope calculations, this listening program could cost roughly $1.4 billion to operate nationwide. $10 billion is projected to be spent on the 2016 presidential races per Bloombergview.com. $3.1 billion was contributed nationwide to combined Republican and Democratic candidates for their 2014 state and congressional races, per Center for Responsive Politics.
Would you rather donate to candidates to spend as they, not you, see fit? Or would you rather donate to an organization that will ensure your concerns are heard?
Too Many Concerns I believe most of us share the same top 100 concerns, that's manageable. It's just that my top three priorities might be your bottom three.
Two people became very agitated telling me that it is unrealistic to ask nearly every Washington State resident their concerns. They had a point.
One hundred (100) of my neighbors told me over 300 comments and concerns -- summarized into 23 categories. At an average of 3.1 concerns per person, imagine multiplying by 7 million (residents in Washington State). How many more concerns would they have mentioned if I had spent more time listening to each person?
One elected told me, “You should see the tiny scraps of paper little old ladies write their concerns on and hand to me.”
I still believe most of our issues would fall into a manageable 100 categories.
What do we do with the concerns we have now? Who bothers to ask?
Concerns Are Too Partisan Have you ever wondered how our country became so partisan with power in the hands of two major political parties?
I believe that all concerns are non-partisan. I believe that parties distort the real problem by focusing on a few minor aspects of the problem and not the whole picture nor the root causes.
I have to assume the political parties represent their party members.
I am very concerned about who represents the growing 43% of us who consider ourselves independent of all political parties.
One of the most compelling statements I've read about politics is from a book I can no longer find that was published circa 1982. I recall it said that 62 percent of people disdain bipartisan bickering and just want concerns addressed.
My litmus test for assessing whether or not a concern should be reduced to the narrow confines of partisan talking points is to ask which political party wants the best outcome for the people.
On education: Which parents want the best education for their children, Republicans or Democrats?
On clean air: Who wants cleaner air to breathe or better access to safe water to drink, Democrats or Republicans?
The honest answers are: All parents want the best education for their children; and we all need clean air and water or we die, Republicans and Democrats.
Then partisan folks say (as if to prove why their party should hold their position over the other party’s position): “We agree on the final destination but we don't agree on how to get there.”
If we agree on the destination, then why do parties make the path so difficult?
It's time for a new era of productive cooperative politics. The majority is ready!
Copyright 2016 Deb Blakeslee