A Republic – 12.0 A suggested approach
“Chapters in every community, committees to study and present in simple terms the laws under consideration, including court decisions, and examine the candidacy and fitness of all aspirants for public office to make sure they would advocate and protect the fundamental principles of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. It overcomes party politics, special interests, and educates voters.”
“Citizenship is the American Ideal. There are an army of actualities opposed to that ideal, but there are no ideals opposed to that ideal?”
G. K. Chesterton
Well here you are. I have to assume that those who have read this far are interested in making this happen. Making the USA a nation that really is of, by, and for the people. To do this you must remember that you are the boss. Therefore you have to set the example. The nation will do as the boss does. A republic is its citizens. You the citizens are the republic. As Cicero said way back in 61 BC, “within the character of the citizens lies the welfare of the republic”.
So let’s review the bidding to see exactly what it is you have to do and then suggest a way to do it. A way based on the principles laid down here. A way that will accomplish our stated purpose of a truly people centered nation. A way where a nation of grown-ups, who can govern themselves rationally and responsibly, lead the way to a new world. A world where might does not make right – a world where right makes right. And that right is decided by the people themselves through a process of reason and reflection.
To do this you must keep the basics in mind. Let’s go over them again. Remember the basic job description of American Citizen:
1. Participate in your local government as a partner, not a cynic.
2. Participate regularly, rationally and responsibly.
3. Elect good representatives and test them at the local level. Then re-elect the good ones to higher office and monitor their progress to see that they are up to the higher-level job and/or are not getting the “big head”.
To do this you have to learn three skills:
1. Learn how to gather information.
2. Learn how to talk to one another to decide what to do for the good of all.
3. Learn how to recognize the power problem and deal with it.
And remember the purpose for doing it – running your community for all its people, not the favored few, and not for selfish reasons. That is the only way democracy can survive in the long run. If you leave it to the well-meaning “activists” or the selfish power seekers it will not last long.
Plus let’s remember what happens if you do not do this. Remember Caesar, remember Rome, remember the power problem, remember that if you don’t do your job other’s will – for their own good, not yours! If you have forgotten this point, or don’t get it, please re-read the book as it is very important. If you don’t really realize the consequences of not doing your job as citizen, you will never get to it. It will never be important enough to outweigh the day-to-day realities you all face.
OK so you get it. But how do you get there? Where do you get the time? What can one person do? That’s the story I have heard from everywhere and everybody for 15 years now. And you know what, you’re right! One person can do very little to change their town and no one has enough time for this stuff and to do it right.
So the suggestion is, do it as a group. This way you will have influence. This way you will have time.
Politicians, particularly local ones, have lives to lead too. They have the same day-to-day realities that you do. They want to do their jobs well too. They can’t spend their time listening to one person after another, each with a separate purpose. To do their jobs well they need to hear from people who have already talked to their neighbors about the community problems and come up with solutions that all can live with. That way they can get going on solving them. In fact they will be very happy if you do this. Then they don’t have to keep trying to be King Solomon and be themselves. It helps them a lot. As one police chief told me, “No community has enough policeman in this country. The people are the ones who are responsible for their own safety and we are only here to help. If the people don’t help we will have to build a police state to control things.” The same goes for your highway departments, your city/town planners, your fire departments, etc. Think how much better your community could run if you worked out the basic problems yourselves and suggested solutions to your representatives – and how much cheaper too? Your governments will listen gladly to group solutions. It is much better than listening to individual gripes.
You solve the time thing this way too. There is lots of information out there in your community. There is a lot going on. The problem with your government, particularly at the local level, is that there is too much information, not too little. That is because your Constitution and Declaration demand that all normal government business be public knowledge. It is inherent in our system from the ground up since the beginning. But how do you get to know all this stuff and decide what information to act on? The fact is, as an individual, it is impossible. But as a group it can be done. You split up the work so all get a share of it they can deal with and then share notes at your meetings. If there is more than one group in town, it gets even easier.
Here is a suggested way to give you an idea. You can follow this or figure out a better way if you like. This method, however, has been tried and tested for 15 years and works well. I suggest you try it for 2 years and see what happens to both your community and yourselves. It doesn’t take a whole lot of effort. I used to say that if you give me $10 and 10 hours a year I will give you your community back. The price has gone up slightly due to inflation but the time is still valid. You can give it more time if you want and you will be even more effective, but this minimum will do it. It is not a constant either. You probably will meet more often around an election and probably will take the summer off. It is not that difficult. You just have to DO it.
Here is a short version of the process for you to try:
FORMING THE YOU THE PEOPLE GROUPS
1. Each Group should have between 5 and 13 people.
2. There can be as many groups as you wish.
3. Each group should be pre-picked by diversity of thought as much as possible. Put one extrovert and introvert, leader and follower, adventurer and planner, relater and visionary, etc. into each group. They should NOT be focus groups or partisan groups of any kind. That just multiplies our problems. Remember they are designed to help you think for yourselves and help run your community/town/city – not to slavishly repeat mantras from above to bring about a selfish, unthinking, feel-good idea. If you do not bring out all sides of the question you will not get a complete answer. If you are not having any problems with the other group members and/or you all agree every time that you are super at cooperation and respect, you are probably doing something wrong.
4. Once picked, the groups should remain together for as long as possible. If one leaves for whatever reason, find someone else. If you get really popular, split into two groups once you get to 14 or more members.
ABBREVIATED YOU THE PEOPLE MEETING FORMAT FOR EACH SESSION
1. Start with a prayer
2. Administrative Announcements
3. Remind everyone of the 7 Citizenship Skills (Cooperation, Patience, Fairness, Respect, Strength, Self-Improvement, and Balance) and that their group conduct and their decisions must follow and demonstrate these skills. Then discuss the citizenship skill assignment. (Each meeting there should be a focus on one of the citizenship skills. A little homework assignment should be decided upon at the previous meeting and the discussion should focus on how everyone fared on the homework.)
4. Discuss your local information assignments. Individuals who volunteered to go to the City/Town Council/School Board or who researched a particular issue of interest to the group should give their reports. Then a normal discussion and vote on what to do next with each item of business.
5. Evaluate the process. Remember the process is as important as the end result. If you fail as a group you no longer have any power. Be honest about how you are doing as a group and make adjustments as necessary.
6. Pick a new leader for the next session. The group leadership must rotate. No one should get too much power; remember the Constitution. Plus it teaches those who normally follow some of the difficulties of leading.
ABBREVIATED GROUND RULES
Ground Rule 1: Each group meeting should start and end on time. If necessary, you may want to limit comments to no more than 2 minutes.
Ground Rule 2: A group leader will run each group meeting. This job will rotate among group members each meeting. The group leader will be responsible for facilitating the group discussion, making sure everyone follows the ground rules, and the group stays on track and on time. He/she may assign someone else in the group to monitor the time during the meeting and someone else to serve as recorder. These duties may rotate if desired, but the leader will change each meeting.
Ground Rule 3: Each group member should be conscious of using the seven citizenship skills and following the ground rules during all Citizen Action Group meetings.
Ground Rule 4: These groups are not meant to be therapy groups. Personal topics should be left out of group discussions.
Ground Rule 5: If a group member gets angry or emotional, he or she may be asked to leave the group for five to fifteen minutes to cool-off (the timing is up to the group leader), but he or she must agree to return to the group after the cooling-off period.
Ground Rule 6: Each group member will be allowed time to speak if he/she desires. The group leader will also make sure that each member has voiced his or her views and participated in the process. An issue cannot be decided upon unless everyone in the group has spoken, or has openly chosen not to speak.
The citizenship skills referred to above are really important. They were installed to keep the meetings civil so things can get done. They are better that straight Robert’s Rules of Order since they do not shut out emotion. They allow it, but control it. Emotion is real and must be dealt with if you are to have group decisions that last and stick, but in the end reason and reflection must rule the day. These skills are one of the many norms of these groups that make this happen.
Here they are, spelled out:
THE SEVEN CITIZENSHIP SKILLS
Skill 1: Cooperation – We the People, not we the persons
When making decisions let others help.
Skill 2: Patience – A more perfect union
Try to make decisions that are doable, not perfect.
Skill 3: Fairness – Common good vs. individual rights
Remember we’re trying to run a civilization here.
Skill 4: Respect – Listen to your fellow rulers
Everyone has a piece of the truth within them, listen for it.
Skill 5: Strength – Stand up when right, sit down when wrong
Are you one of those “often wrong, but never in doubt” or no opinion people?
Skill 6: Self-Improvement – Seek knowledge and skills
Make sure you have all the right facts to make the decision.
Skill 7: Balance – Harmonize or compromise
Look at all sides of every issue, no matter what you feel.
Why only these seven you say – good question? These skills are certainly not the only ones you can use to conduct your business well. They are however the base ones, without which you can’t conduct your business well.
If you want to see the expanded full version of this process, now or after you try the short version, please call 1-800-833-5310 or go to www.youthepeople.com or email us at email@example.com. It is far more effective and gives much more information and guidance than this book.
Well there you have it, simple, easy, and fun – just like having your own car, your own apartment, etc. when you left home. It is great once you get over the first hurdle – the fear of doing it. It is hard at first because it is new. You will make some silly mistakes. You will learn a lot. And in the end you will be much better off because what you do will be for you.
Lastly please again remember what happens if you do not do it. This nation fails. Humanity returns to its deadly past with decisions made by accident and force. Your successors will no longer answer to God, but to some human. Your children and grandchildren will answer to some slave driver because they will mostly be slaves. They may call it something nicer in the future but the reality will be the same. It has been a miserable existence for humanity as any study of history will show. The Founders referred to life in their day as rude, brutish, and short. Is that how you want life for your great grandchildren? If you and I are to ever solve the great problems that face us as a race, we have to let our ability to solve our problems grow as fast as our ability to create them. If you and I do not learn to ourselves grow up as fast as our technologies we will just destroy ourselves more efficiently.
It might even be worse than that, believe it or not. Whatever you think of the global warming scare, it shows how fragile life is here on earth. This is a lonely planet in a very hostile space that could wipe out human existence completely in hours. It will some day if people don’t get smart and learn to work together. If people work together this great new technology being developed could save this world, perhaps. If people don’t work at getting better and getting along, the technology will be used to destroy the civilization if not the world. The humanities studies and progress must improve along with the technology if it is to be of benefit.
So your job as citizen is even more important than just creating a better community. It can eventually create a survivable better world. Please do it. Please don’t let the world go back to the old way. Thousands of people have suffered and died to get humanity this opportunity – an opportunity to break the cycle of violence and death that has wracked this world for so many centuries.
As I said before, the Founders trusted your capacity for greatness. You will tell history whether they were right or wrong. Please get it right. Look up not down. Go forward not back. You, yes YOU – it is up to each of you.
May God bless your wonderful new way of life.
IF YOU WANT TO EXPLORE THE IDEA OF FORMING SOME “YOU THE PEOPLE” GROUPS IN YOUR AREA, PLEASE WRITE TO THE SAME ADDRESS OR EMAIL US AT INFO@YOUTHEPEOPLE.COM.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR INTEREST IN OUR GREAT EXPERIMENTAL NATION! YOU ARE THE KEY TO ITS SUCCESS!! ONLY YOU CAN MAKE IT GREAT!!!
“Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is a force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearsome master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.”