Today Caucus votes in Australia as to who will Lead the Labor Party – our current Prime Minister Julia Gillard, or our ex Prime Minister Kevin Rudd – and ultimately be Prime Minister. I’ve put together a video to talk about how I think representational democracy is dead, and how Media failed the Australian people.
Democracy is Linear
Representational democracy is where you vote for a Member, and hand over all your responsibilities to them until the next election. In Ancient Times, every village would vote in a Representative who would go to the next biggest town and vote on the village issues. Very linear. Issue->communication->vote in Village->run to town-> argue the points-> outcome.
Democracy could be Digital (non linear)
Pericles said: “It is true that we (Athenians) are called a democracy, for the administration is in the hands of the many and not the few, with equal justice to all alike in their private disputes.”
Democracy was supposed to be all people acting as Government for all the time. That was Direct Democracy. Well actually, they didn’t have computers or the internet or a Platform, but still it was everyone gets a shot at running the community for a year each.
We don’t live in a linear world anymore. It’s now possible for every Australian to vote on every issue and collaborate on the outcome. Not just the Icelandic Constitution on Facebook but also fixing park benches as a group on FixMyStreets. Who needs councils? 😛
Government as a Service
This representational democracy placed Government in a Service role. We have an issue, Government provides a service and fixes it, we pay taxes for that. Cumbersome, with poor oversight, and no understanding of the big Q Questions/issues, but plenty of big A Answers/white papers. What if we had an issue and used Government platforms to find and source and crowdfund a solution? If we crowdsourced the implementation of the solution?
Government as a Platform
Social Politics using social media platforms gives Government the opportunity to provide a Platform. In the same way that peer to peer banks just provide the platform (profiles and transfers) rather than act as mediator bankers, and the same way that eBay just provides the platform (profiles and transfers) rather than actually makes and sells products, Government could provide a platform for Australians to participate in direct democracy. I raise an issue, and educate my fellow Australians and form collaborative working groups to address those issues, using the Government platform.
The Cult of Personality and Adversarial Politics
Representational democracy works or fails on the fact that our politicians are human and singular. With a toxic boss, it’s fails. Even with a great boss, it’s adversarial. Adversarial models fail in a social collaborative world. Competition is atrophying, collaboration is arising. Frenemies at best… The Attorney General reveals just how crippling a toxic boss can be in this interview at ABC Insiders. (not embeddable, sorry).
Crowdsourced politics and collaboration
Crowdsourcing works or fails on the fact that the voters are human and many. There will be other issues with Government as a Platform – an imperative need to educate and communicate amongst them. But it will push Human Evolution along a few steps.
Media failure to communicate
If Kevin Rudd was as toxic as everyone says (even his supporters say he “has changed”) and the Media knew about it, why was he continually heralded as a ‘great media personality’ and popular on Sunrise etc. Conspiracy of silence. Shocking. It’s time we heard the real truth about Kevin from James Button on SMH.
On Monday, a Fairfax journalist, Katharine Murphy, wrote that Rudd’s swearing and ranting on a recently leaked YouTube video only confirmed what everyone in Canberra knew about his character. “Who knew that?” she wrote. “Well, all of us. We were there – the political staff, bureaucrats, colleagues, journalists, the public who got that side of Rudd through the accounts we all wrote – piecing it together. It wasn’t that long ago.”
Strangely, the information age seems to have made grasping the truth of things harder. The shrinking of the broad base of political parties; their failure to tell stories that inspire and ring true; the increasing lack of penetration of the serious media; the rarity of deep analysis, told in a compelling way; the 60-second YouTube videos that portray Julia as robotic or Kevin as a knockabout bloke who swears a bit too much; the distrust and distraction of we the people: all these promote misunderstanding. They are death to an engaged politics.
Damning indeed. Given that social media wasn’t used at all by Government, it’s hardly surprising that all that people know about are YouTube videos.
Government failure to use Social Media
Twitter isn’t about the few million on Twitter. It’s about using those few million to inform and ripple to the 22 million that are connected to them. That is the essence of social media – it’s the Exposure/Reach, not the Circulation. Opposite of traditional media. Yet social media channels are not used by Julia Gillard or Kevin Rudd except as adhoc testomonial statements. There’s no polling, no collaboration, no communication back to people and no distribution (links, retweets etc). Just straight “here’s my press release” statements and the odd jokey statement.
But all government think social media is good for is heckling and stupid videos. Tho the one above is pretty good 🙂