We the editors have been saying for a long time now that the struggle for a more participatory and direct democracy must begin in earnest on election day 2008. The historic election of Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States does not signal the end of that struggle, but rather that our voices must be raised louder than ever, and our activism and participation in politics must be raised to the highest level possible. This is because with this election, the doors to the corridors of power in Washington appear to be opened ever so slightly, perhaps enough that for the first time in decades 'we the people' have a real chance of getting our foot in the door enough to bully our way in. This will of course require maintaining and increasing the levels of popular political activism we have experienced during this campaign. If we do not, we run the risk of missing an historic opportunity for change. Real change will come from the people, not from Obama alone. - Editor
New Civic Politics
Enough is enough.
America's politics should be driven by the priorities of the people, not sound bites, special interest money, partisan gridlock, and polarizing rhetoric.
It is time for a change.
We believe that politics cannot and should not be a spectator sport. No politician, party or ideology will solve America's mounting problems alone. Only by providing authentic opportunities for the people to be part of the solution can we rebuild trust in our political institutions and create mandates for meaningful action on the critical issues facing our nation.
We challenge candidates and each other to recognize lessons from communities across the nation and around the world where citizens have played vital roles in addressing difficult problems that range from health care to education reform, from keeping communities safe to climate change. We need an outpouring of ideas about how Americans can build on this history, developing skills of working together across divisions of party, faith, race, income, and geography to address common issues. Such work is difficult. But it is crucial.
The November 5th Coalition is an all-partisan alliance committed to civic partnerships that address our biggest challenges. The Coalition is named for the day after the election in 2008 when a new chapter of America's civic history begins. Wherever the people gather they should be able to ask candidates “November 5th questions” about how they plan to tap the talents of the whole society, instead of posing as superheroes who will solve our problems for us. We will also develop leadership networks and civic policies that can serve as resources for a new administration. We encourage our fellow citizens to join with us in calling on candidates to rise above excessively divisive partisanship and to promote the common good.
We invite all Americans to help us shape a new civic politics that can galvanize the energies of the nation, drawing us from the shopping mall back into the public square. We must renew Abraham Lincoln's “government of the people, by the people, for the people,” to achieve a rebirth of liberty and justice for all in the 21st century.
We will intervene by:
Creating an environment in which it pays for candidates to engage with other politicians and citizens in more authentic, productive, citizen-centered ways. Modeling better forms of interaction between candidates and voters.
Making it more difficult for candidates to get away with fake versions of civic engagement on the campaign trail (such as town meetings that are scripted and controlled)
Creating an environment in which it pays for candidates to propose serious policies, programs, or ways of governing that will enhance citizen-centered politics. Making visible and strengthening the array of policy options and ideas for citizen-centered politics.
Reconceiving the campaign as about all of us -- and what we will all do after the election, not simply to get someone elected
Using the campaign season to direct attention to citizen-centered activities that are already going on and groups already doing public work
Ensuring that we have a political system and democracy that welcomes the participation of everyone (rather than prohibiting it