A Public Pledge to Hear the People's Common Sense
see The "Listen
to the People" Pledge Campaign
This is a model draft written for a local politician. For other
public officials, you can change the word "community"
to county, district, state, or other jurisdiction, as appropriate.
This Pledge can be revised to the satisfaction of the politician
and those soliciting his or her commitment. However, it should
be noted that most aspects of the Pledge are there for specific
reasons, and certain changes could seriously undermine the integrity
of the process. When in doubt, advice is available by emailing
email@example.com with "Politicians Pledge Query"
in the subject line.
My job is to serve all my constituents and the welfare of the community.
I believe in listening to the people as a whole, hearing all the
voices and views, and trying to find the best solutions and initiatives
for our community.
When we face challenging issues, I believe we need to move beyond
polarization and seriously consider the concerns and viewpoints
of different people in ways that can produce some common sense solutions.
To do this we need creative, thoughtful dialogue among diverse,
knowledgeable citizens, taking many perspectives into account.
One approach is for temporary "citizens panels" made
up of randomly selected ordinary citizens to talk for a few days
about the challenges we face and then let the rest of us know what
they come up with.*
I like that approach. So if a panel that reflects the diversity
of our community comes up with a course of action that they believe
serves the whole community, I pledge to take their recommendations
seriously and to publicly announce how I will advocate and act on
them or why I cannot.
The organizers of the panel need to ensure a fair, transparent
and creative process that will serve the common good. So I will
honor any panel that meets the following criteria:
- It consists of at least a dozen, and preferably more, randomly
selected ordinary citizens from this community. The selection
is free of partisan bias.
- The panel is clear on its purpose, rights and responsibilities,
and understands the roles of others who are involved. All panelists
are treated with respect and are given the support they need to
do their job well.
- If the panel is assigned a specific issue to deliberate on,
they are provided with accessible, balanced, and practical briefing
materials on all "sides" of that issue. This includes
at least written material, testimony from experts, and a good
opportunity to cross-examine those experts. The panel-briefing
process is clearly fair to all major viewpoints.
- The panel has adequate time to do its work. Previous experience
suggests that four to five days is good for addressing an issue.
Two days can suffice for more general "state of the community"
reflections that don't involve expert testimony.
- The panel gets support from content-neutral facilitation that
ensures all perspectives are heard; that helps panelists' questions
and concerns get addressed; and that encourages panelists to creatively
collaborate towards whatever common sense and common ground they
all feel good about.
- Panelists' activities are arranged to help them think, talk
and learn without any pressure except time and conscience. Panelists
are not lobbied or interviewed outside of meetings by people they
don't already know, and they report any lobbying that does occur.
- As they near the conclusion of their work, I encourage, but
do not require, panelists and organizers to consult with me or
other public officials to find ways to enhance the political feasibility
of their recommendations.
- Panelists all sign a final document clearly stating any findings
and recommendations upon which they all agree, as well as any
remaining concerns or significant minority recommendations. Their
recommendations can include the convening of one or more additional
- The panel's statement is made available to the public and to
the media at a public meeting and press conference. It is very
desirable for it to also be publicized in other ways, as well.
For my part, I pledge to post the panel's statement on my website
for at least two months after it is released.
[NOTE: If a public official does not have or control an official
website of his or her own, the phrase "on my website"
can be changed to "on a publicly accessible website."]
Anyone can organize such a citizens panel, but it is good to go
over the design with me ahead of time. If the organizing process
is open to examination to ensure it meets the above criteria and
is free of major bias, I will take the findings seriously, as follows:
Within ten days of receiving their findings, I will publicly announce
-- through a press conference as well as on the Web -- what steps
I will take to advocate and act on their recommendations, or why
I, as a public official, cannot accept the recommendations as presented.
I will also inform major groups on all sides, as well as the panelists
and organizers of the citizens panel, so they can respond.
I believe that, by helping us explore our differences and work
together toward a deeper unity, this process can allow the true
potential of our democracy to surface. I invite other public leaders
to make a similar commitment to honoring the informed, trustworthy,
and wise collective voice of the people we were elected to represent.
* Different forms of citizen panels like
this have been successfully held hundreds of times around the
world. To find out more about them, see http://www.co-intelligence.org/CDCUsesAndPotency.html.
For sample citizen panel process designs see
THE MACLEAN'S CANADIAN EXPERIMENT "THE PEOPLE'S VERDICT"
For more general theory regarding citizen panels, see:
CITIZEN DELIBERATIVE COUNCILS
ALTERNATIVE CLOSING SENTENCE for more idealistic politicians:
"I invite other public officials to make a similar commitment
to honoring the informed, trustworthy, and wise voice of We the
OF THE PLEDGE
- On May 22, 2004, one of the leading State Senators of Hawaii,
Les Ihara, signed the Politician's Pledge. Click
here for a pdf copy.
- On January 6, 2012, U.S. presidential candidate Robert
Steele signed the pledge.
- On March 12, 2012 Green Party Congressional candidate Carol
Brouillet signed the pledge.
- On July 10, 2012, Laura
Wells, Exploratory Campaign for State Controller 2014, California,
signed the pledge
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