Is Our System Capable of Change in the 21st Century?

Garnering signatures for anything is tough to do these days. It’s been made easier with some processes now including electronic signature gathering for candidates. We all know how slow the government has been in including digital features for services of many kinds, let alone one so important as voting. Verifying individuals is getting easier, so perhaps there is hope. Is there a need for a system change?

Standing outside of the Orpheum Theater in downtown Phoenix as the crowd gathered to hear Senator Bernie Sanders speak, I was reminded that showing up is the most important detail in accomplishing anything. The day began with serendipitous events, running a bit late for my target time I first went to the parking garage I assumed would be open. Of course it wasn’t. Murphy wasn’t going to win.

I turned the corner to pass the south side of the complex surrounding the Orpheum. I looked over, it was about 9:15 and the was already a nice line. I was curious as to where I could find a parking spot close. I continued to drive to where I could turn down the street leading to the front of the theater. I saw traffic barricades and noticed they weren’t completely blocking the street. I continued, saw a couple of open parking spots, talked to the traffic cop to see if they were indeed open and shazam, I had a prime spot.

That was the easy part. I found the person in charge of the outdoor area and secured a spot, the only one actually facing the line. That was great. However, after watching people more concerned at getting in line than checking things out, it was clear I’d have to work the lines. There were at least a half-dozen other groups working the line, too. One of the first things I noticed was the lack of consideration many of them had. People who were already engaged by a signature solicitor were accosted by other solicitors and frankly, it just seemed rude. I wonder if there is a code of ethics these folks could learn or, better yet, practice.

I enjoy people, for the most part, and engaging in conversation has never been a problem. I can develop rapport quite easily. I learn so much about how people think as well. Because of that, conversations are usually more in depth. Here I had to be direct and succinct. I never know what kind of response I’m going to get. It seemed like about 80% of the people I talked with did not know that the Independent Party wasn’t a real party in Arizona. Is that surprising to you? Nearly all of those folks agreed it needs to be a real Party and signed the petition.

Of course there were those who refused to sign, and I didn’t argue. I did ask further questions about why they refused, though. As a professional facilitator, I’ve had to learn how to engage hostile people. I’m not saying they were hostile, just that the skills came in handy to diffuse and dig further. It was surprising how many had their own version of binary paralysis. We want things to change so much and yet are so resistant to it. Thinking outside the box is still risky business.

Bernie is apparently outside the box. After the Orpheum was full, there were maybe a couple hundred people who didn’t get it. Evidently it was planned, just in case, and Bernie actually spoke the the group outside before the event began. I could be wrong, but most politicians don’t do that. I could be wrong and hope I am. Regardless, after listening to his full speech, he gave us all a truncated version with just the punch lines. It still made a lot of sense even without all the buildup.

The real risky business is in getting, as Bernie stated, a sound progressive political movement in the United States. It just doesn’t seem possible that the two parties could ever achieve that in their current state of binary paralysis, fighting over house or senate majority instead of fighting for what makes good sense for the country. That is not that difficult of a process. Yet, as with most systems and the nature of polarizing points of view, a third-party has the advantage of initiating and supporting changes the make things better for everyone. Can we truly turn Arizona purple? It’s a good color.

Is Our System Capable of Change in the 21st Century?

The difficult challenge we face now is the unique way we’re approaching the matter. In the past, people have gathering around wanting certain things accomplished and forming ‘parties’ to do so. That certainly makes sense. However, when I was asked about the Independent Party platform, there wasn’t much I could say. We feel it’s kind of a chicken and egg thing, but that an Independent Party would eventually attract the progressive thinkers and solution-oriented doers that would develop the best platform. The best I could offer was ‘Making Things Common,’ which to some sounded evasive and others unique.

The real system change comes when things flat-line. No, I don’t mean that have to die. It’s a type of participatory leadership some quite successful corporations have applied. Everyone is involved in the process of achieving goals and objectives, so much so that the best ideas float to the surface and everyone engages them from their own role. We think the Independent Party can be that way, too. It isn’t people who don’t want to belong to any party, registering as independents. This movement is about drawing the right people to the right place to achieve what is necessary and prudent for the growth and sustainability of Arizona, perhaps the country. The story continues….

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