Before I get into the meat of this post, let me first say that this is NOT one of my overriding goals for building Play the Planet. My eyes and mind are firmly fixed on the goal of solving real, tangle problems that impact tens of millions of people in America, and billions of people worldwide. I don’t care about politics or politicians, except that it’s a good platform to engage in lively, animated discussions. The process itself, however, leaves me cold.
Worse, politics has been corrupted beyond all saving, in my opinion, and I honestly do not see the value in spending the time or effort that would be needed to reform the process. There is, however, another way. Consider this sort of the “back door approach” to fixing the political system.
So how can we do that?
First and foremost we can do that by understanding the nature and mechanics of political power, and what it is, ultimately, that drives people to a life of politics.
I am 100% certain that there are at least some people who GENUINELY enter the political arena with public service in mind, but at the end of the day, it becomes about power. Gaining it. Keeping it. Enhancing it. Creating a little fiefdom of political power, then guarding your gains and increasing them over time. If people wind up getting helped along the way, that’s great, but it quickly becomes a side-effect OF growing your power base, and not the primary mission. This, at least, on the basis of what we can see of the current political process at all levels, from the outside looking in.
Regardless of the purity of a politician’s intentions at the outset, from day one, the trade-offs begin. The favors. The backroom deals, the purchase of influence. Inevitably, it is these things that corrupt even the best of intentions, and ultimately, it is these things that make politics work for the few, and not the many. It’s also ultimately why the game of politics (and in the final analysis, it really is a game) cannot be changed from within.
It can, however, be changed from without, because KNOWING that politicians are on the hunt for more power and control, any initiative which exists outside the political arena is an initiative that shuts the politicians themselves, out of the game.
There are two ways that a politician can respond to this kind of action. They can attempt to outlaw that which is shutting them out, thereby requiring that whatever the action is, it take place under the umbrella and auspices of the existing political system, and in fact, we’ve already seen some of this occurring, with the passage of the DMCA in the 90’s, and more recent attempts to outlaw sustainable living, which I mentioned in my last post. This is the likeliest response when small, disparate groups or individuals can be targeted, which is, in fact, what we’re seeing now, and is solved for with relative ease. It is simply a matter of increasing collaboration among groups – bringing them together under a common umbrella, which is exactly what Play the Planet is being designed to accomplish.
The other way they can respond, however, is to reform. To recognize that they are, in fact, being cut out of a process or project that’s making a real impact and genuinely moving the needle where real, pressing problems of society are concerned, and eager to be a part of the new paradigm, begin to embrace it, even at the expense of losing some of their existing base of support. Here, the calculus is pretty simple. If they can gain more support by partnering with the new paradigm than they’ll lose by doing so, it becomes a patently safe choice to make.
This is not something that the new initiative will have to seek out – the leaders of these new initiatives will not have to pander to, or spend any time at all trying to get the attention or gain the ear of the politicians in question…the results of those efforts will do that automatically. Politicians will see that improvements are being made, they will see that they are being entirely shut out of the process, and some (perhaps even many) will simply choose to become a part of it. As that begins to happen, the political process itself will begin to change in the face of these new realities, and in this way, indirectly, we can cause the process of politics as a whole to change.
This then, is what a TRUE grass-roots initiative looks like. A new paradigm that begins with the people themselves, creating new, self-organizing systems that don’t require permission from, or the involvement of the existing (political) power structure, and ultimately, bending the existing political power structure to its will.
All that to say, if you’re genuinely interested in launching a successful political revolution, then do it. Do it by getting involved in one (or several) of the DIY communities scattered around the nation, and start helping to weld them together into a force that can begin solving real problems beyond the scale of the individual. The moment that happens, change begins.