“Everyone” would be the ones Clay Shirky describes in his great book, Here Comes Everybody. We’ve already formed it, and sure enough, everybody’s coming. The next political party has already been formed, doing everything that a political party does, but with none of the overhead. Here’s Wikipedia’s definition:
A political party is a political organization that seeks to attain and maintain political power within government, usually by participating in electoral campaigns. Parties often espouse a specific ideology and vision, but may also represent a coalition among disparate interests.
I know I belong to a pervasive Neo-Conversative party, whose members are conversing about government in a new way. I have lots of friends all over the spectrum and their appeal for me is how well we can discuss 1. how things are, 2. how they might be and 3. what we might do, specifically, to improve things. Without all three qualities, there’s no engagement for me, and I bet that’s true for you too.
The millions of supporting anecdotes aren’t enough to alarm broadcast politics’ flat-earthers, cable news and their politicians, but it’s just as obvious as a round globe was to observant coastal dwellers, watching the earth’s curve hide the hull first and the sails later.
Toilets overflowing, People going crazy, and no one’s listening!
Andrew Rasiej and Micah Sifry made that case last March At Politico.com, citing Clay Shirky’s point that Internet group-forming was the sole differentiator in cases just seven years apart, where people were equally outraged but unequally armed for success.
Every few years, an airline bureaucracy traps an airliner on a taxiway for several hours with the usual offenses against decency: toilets overflowing, no food or drink, missed connections, weddings, births, etc.
Two remarkably similar events, with two incredibly disparate outcomes. In Detroit , the passengers’ fury led to a lawsuit but nothing larger. In Austin , it led to the creation of a powerful organization that went national within days. As Shirky writes: “Why did one infuriating delay lead nowhere, while the other led to a real increase in pressure on the airlines?”
His answer: The key change was that Hanni had in her hands the tools to encourage and sustain participation. She had the desire to do something, and in 2007 she was able to communicate that desire in a way that created a public movement, using tools that have become commonplace…
…The adage that organized minorities are more powerful than disorganized majorities is now more true than ever. However, as these organized minorities multiply and grow, they are challenging the very nature of what power is and how it will be maintained in our society.
Already, we can see how presidential campaigns that embraced this new phenomenon — such as those of Barack Obama, Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul — have been able to proceed much farther down the path to party nominations than they might otherwise have. Self-organizing groups, and networks that tie these groups into powerful coalitions, are the new players. To alter Time magazine’s formulation, the Person of the Year isn’t “you,” it’s “us.”
We’re trapped in this broken airplane called America, stuck on the unforgiving tarmac of oily geopolitics. Shirky’s best anecdote is a kind of parable. A couple of hundred million of us can be as cohesive as a couple hundred passengers trapped for hours in a fetid airplane. That’s the force that Clay describes as being impossible in 1999 and inevitable in 2006.
At Andrew and Micah’s PDF conference on 6/23, the Independence Year Foundation will announce iYear, which runs from 7/4/08 to 7/4/09. iYear is not a catalyst to what will happen over that period, but a lever arm, perhaps bionic, to help the citizen’s reach exceed politicians’ grasp.
*Andrew and Micah are the dynamic duo who seem to be everywhere that matters in the technopolitical space:
- PDF (6/23 & 24 – don’t miss it!)
- Sunlight Foundation
They have doublehandedly steered the conversation about politics toward results, in the direction we’re now seeing.