On the open space mailing list, Harrison Owen wrote about some of the initiatives taken by the Dean campaign, and that got me writing. You see, I’ve been toying for a while with the idea of “the open space political party”. The idea alone sounds kinda interesting, huh?
The way I see it, the organization of the party would be as grass-roots, bottom-up and ad-hoc as possible. And this would apply not only to the campaign phase but also for all relevant governing and policy-setting issues, once we’re in power :o)
This party would not have a catalogue of fixed opinions set by the top brass, saying we’re for this, against that and for the other. Instead the party would have regularly scheduled open space meetings, and whenever the need arose to form an opinion on a topic (and this happens faster than any traditional political structure can handle these days), the party would put that topic on the agenda to clarify the members’ thinking on that issue. These gatherings should probably be geographically local, so it’s easy for people to participate, and should include a method of consolidating the regional dialogues (any good ideas how to do this?). Based on this, the party can in a reasonably short time examine any issue that may crop up.
This would mean that any issue would be examined in all it’s complexity. That all arguments for and against would be talked about by a large group of spirited people before a concensus is found. This is in sharp contrast to todays political process, where a party’s opinions are set by the top leaders, often informed more by polls than by dialogue.
This would also mean, that membership of such a party would not be based on how many of the party’s opinions you agree with, since many of these may not be formulated yet. Instead, when you join as a member, you sign up for two things:
1: A set of values that unifies the members of this party
2: The process. Grass-roots, bottom-up and ad-hoc
And finally, a party such as this would be a hotbed of creativity, energy, disagreement, chaos, responsibility and fun. Just imagine how many novel and interesting solutions a group of people working to improve their nation could come up with in such a setting.
I’ve looked at the political structure here in Denmark, and I’m convinced that this development probably will never come from any of the established parties (and we have enough to choose from in Denmark som 12-14 at the last count). The only way to bring this about is to create a new party.
I have a deep conviction that it could work, and that this could be one way for us to take back some of the responsibility that we’ve left to the current political system.
How does that sound?