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The "Listen to the People" Pledge Campaign
for Politicians and Public Officials

For a list of signers see here.

See also
A Program for State Legislators Interested in Public Deliberation

which includes futher actions US citizens can take to engage their State legislators.

It is time to move beyond modes of "public participation" that frustrate citizens and public officials alike. It is time to enable citizens, politicians and officials to tap into the latent wisdom of their communities -- and then have that collective, thoughtful voice be truly heard by all involved.

One approach is to get politicians to pledge that they will take seriously any statement that emerges from a well-designed public forum that include diverse community voices in creative ways to reflect and serve the whole community.

The "Listen to the People Pledge" is designed to do that. You can use it with incumbent office-holders or aspiring candidates. You can modify it to gather commitments from bureaucrats, technical professionals and agency staff. You can use it at any level of our political system, from ward and town all the way up to the national government. You can bring it to political parties, as well.

Any individual, group or organization can bring this Pledge to any politician or government, seeking their commitment to listen to the people's common sense.

Note that in signing this Pledge, the politician or official is not committing to convene or sponsor any citizens' panels of the sort described in it. The Pledge actually involves very little work on their part -- at least until a panel has been convened and completed its work. Then the politician is expected to tell the public how they will act on its recommendations or explain why they can't.

Furthermore, this Pledge does not limit or take away any decision-making power representatives or officials already have. It simply gives The People a powerful advisory role, and helps them see themselves as a coherent community, rather than as nothing more than isolated individuals and competing interests.

We see no legitimate reason -- so far -- for public officials to not sign this Pledge. If they do resist signing it, we are interested in hearing their objections.

We needn't worry at this stage about whether there are resources to hold the citizens panels the Pledge describes. When hundreds of politicians make this commitment -- or when even a few significant players in any one locale sign it -- the prospect of having real impact will attract the resources needed to start holding these forums. Each forum successfully held will become an inspiring story to others.

This process may well snowball (feed on itself and grow rapidly). Or we will learn valuable lessons for the next iteration of this campaign.

The more citizens who let us know they are working on this, the more obviously substantial this effort will be -- and that will attract funds for organizing staff and materials to make the whole program bigger and better. Again, this could snowball.

This pilot campaign will only go where we all take it together. We invite you to do any of the following, or whatever action feels right to you.

  • pick one or more politicians you think might be receptive, and set up an appointment or luncheon to talk over this Pledge with them.
  • organize a campaign to get dozens of people to mail the Pledge to them, asking them to sign.
  • send the Pledge to everyone you know, urging their involvement
  • pass out fliers about it at events.
  • hold a discussion about it in your living room or schoo
  • engage your local media -- quietly or with a bit of creative noise.

Then tell us what you've done. Just email with "Politicians Pledge Action" in the subject line.

Especially in a big election year in the U.S., we can suggest to any candidate -- and especially challengers seeking to make their mark -- that this Pledge will mark them as a candidate for the whole community, one who can ask, "Why won't my opponent sign this Pledge? Are they afraid of the people? This is no rabble we're talking about. This isn't the usual suspects, the vociferous partisans screaming their bias or pressuring us from the sidelines. This is ordinary people, speaking to us with real knowledge of the issues they're addressing. Why won't my opponent agree to listen to them? What is he (or she) afraid of?"

Here is a chance to make a real difference.

Go for it.

Tom Atlee
the "Listen to the People" Pledge Campaign
of The Co-Intelligence Institute


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