Time to up our game for Citizenship Education?
The chaos at the American capitol was a long time coming, with many of us warning it was on its way. It is also on its way to these shores as the same interests are intent on making it happen. Can some good come of this. My friend Peter McColl has done some ideas worth sharing and discussing:
He's calling for an international movement to ensure voter rights across the world, because, that's the level on which we face challenges. Here is a summary for how this might start in the US, how could we work for similar changes here:
Very thoughtful and interesting. The link below illustrates some of the problems highlighted very well.
Representative democracy is certainly in a perilous condition right now and will probably not get any better until there is quite radical change.
I think the problem may be deeper than anything addressed by electoral reform however.
We treat politics like a service industry where we contract out our need for governance to people who will undertake to do it for us. However, we know that when we contract things out, it is rare to find a contractor who will provide anything above and beyond the terms of the contract. Contactors work on behalf of themselves or their shareholders. They will accrue as much benefit to themselves, or those they answer to, as they can. It is up to us to ensure compliance but the very fact we have contracted out implies that we can't or won't allocate the time, effort or skills required.
The work of people like Oliver Escobar in devising means of Democratic Innovation shows a way forward. It is entirely consistent with C.L.D. values and principles and is underpinned by sound research and exemplified by case studies from around the world.
Above all the factor that is most corrosive of democracy is the gross inequality, economic, cultural and political that pervades the world today. Democratic innovation can begin to address that.
We have done a few training sessions with Oliver and have used the mini public approach regularly over the past few years
- plans for a community building in Fraserburgh
- understanding social capital
- exploring data about your neighbourhood
- tenants views on housing allocation policy
- Parents and young people around free school meals access and uptake in Fraserburgh
- Views on the new drugs and alcohol strategy in Aberdeenshire
- Online neighbourhood process around Corra Shift the Power Funding ( Banff / Macduff)
I would recommend the training input that Oliver delivered twice for us - in both cases the expectation was that all participants would leave the session with a plan for a real live process - in our case that led to three of the examples above.
I will investigate whether we might be able to do something similar.
Oliver Escobar did a really interesting presentation at The World Community Development Conference 2019 in Dundee. Link below worth a look.