Interactivity Foundation The United States Democratic Promise Public Policy Discussion at 1st Presidential Debate
It was a wonderful occasion. People arrived and introduced themselves to each other. You could feel the anticipation. Everyone was ready. Dr Hopkinson spoke first, introducing the occasion, the facilitators, and the work of the Interactivity Foundation. We were as a group to have a brief open discussion on several questions posed by the facilitator that arranged for the site. For most, this might have been the first time that they had been at such a historic time enjoying a fabulous buffet and expressing opinions about the direction of our country. I was impressed by the wide participation and the variety of opinions and ideas that were offered. After nearly fifteen minutes, we broke into groups of 6-9 people with the IF booklets we were given. The close to forty people present began their review of the booklet, The United States Democratic Promise. For most, this was the first time that they had been in such a historic setting enjoying a fabulous buffet and expressing opinions about the direction of our country.
In the group of seven that I facilitated, the engagement level was high. We were able to complete a discussion of possibilities A and B and were well into possibility C when it was time for the debate to begin. Possibility A, Rebuild the Structure of Democracy, moved those present to mention the Senate filibuster rule saying that it should be eliminated and that terms should be limited for more elected offices. There was a parallel drawn when the Electoral College was mentioned as questionable and outdated in its origin. It was considered by most to be a detriment to democracy and needing to be abandoned. The replacement would be the popular vote. Now there is democracy at work. In possibility B, Free To Be You, Free to be Me, a participant mentioned that this is a libertarian notion. The corruption that is rampant in government has made it necessary to impose controls. The only repair that we could think of was mandatory voting. Everyone felt that the way that government operates is generally out of date and was conceived in the 1700’s for a very different America. They brought up that the Constitution was written to be revised in each generation and it has not been. Most of the changes have resulted from abuse and followed by protests such as the civil rights and suffragette movements. When asked how the new electronic web based world might affect the democratic process, the ideas expressed were to have monthly or quarterly popular votes on a few issues at a time with those opinions becoming the basis of policy changes of the Constitution. Everyone believed that the Constitution is out of date. On possibility C, It Takes a Village to be a Democracy, we were beginning to discuss what kind of group should be assembled to work on modifications to parts of the Constitution when it was time for the debate to begin. Is our democracy out of date?
You could hear nothing except the occasional applause during the first presidential debate being viewed at a stylish corner urban restaurant in the Logan area of DC. The large screen and projector displaying crisp images of the debate venue and the debaters. You would have to be there to understand the level of attentiveness as the candidate and the President exchanged facts on domestic issues. The close to forty people present having been involved themselves in discussions were ready to hear how the debate would go. This was a fragment of the democratic process that itself could use some examination.