With the emphasis on “by”

In the shortest and most famous speech in U.S. history, Abraham Lincoln summarized our democracy as one “of the people, by the people, for the people”.

In the Internet age, we have the means to make that democracy work better than ever, to gather and exercize our power to participate — not just by voting, but by engaging directly with our local, regional, state and national systems of governance.

That’s what Britt Blaser is talking about here:

  I’m a big Obama booster, but I don’t think any President can lead a “sea-change in the way we produce and distribute political power in this country”, because of the Mutually Assured Destruction built into the system. But he might inspire US to build US 2.0 as Dave Winer and Doc Searls have been urging, an upgrade to USOS, the United States Operating System…
  Governance sites. Lots of sites.
  Indeed, we’re like Neo in the Matrix, needin lots of guns. But guns won’t help us. We need lots of by-the-people hyperlocal governance sites. We need them everywhere to aggregate and impose the locals’ interests on their representatives and senators. No one’s gonna build them for us, and there’s no f/x department to surround us with racks and racks of political firepower. So it’s up to US.

He’s working on exactly that kind of equipment, by the way. Stay tuned for more.

2 comments

  1. Terry Heaton’s avatar

    Lincoln borrowed that phrase from John Wycliffe who said it in the late 14th century upon completion of the first plain English translation of the Bible.

    “This book shall make possible government of the people, by the people and for the people.”

    The lords of the time received their influence from the Roman church, whose power came from protecting the knowledge contained in the sacred text. Wycliffe’s body was exhumed 12 years after he died, so that “the church” could burn the bones in a ceremony branding him the heretic of heretics.

    Today’s protected knowledge — that which maintains institutional power — is again being made available to the masses, and the response from the halls of power is eerily similar to what it was in the middle ages.

    “The jewel of the elites is in the hands of the laity,” they said back then. So it is today, and it’s why I think this new government of the people, by the people and for the people actually stands a chance of fulfillment.

  2. Gregory Yankelovich’s avatar

    I was wondering about impact of technology on archaic government structures for a while. Enterprise 2.0 enables commerce to “return” to fundamentally democratic marketplace, but the participation level still seem to be pretty elitist. Do we believe the evolution of commerce will cast away those who cannot change? Should the evolution of democracy lead to similar results?

Comments are now closed.