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Reforming U.S. democracy ...
and healing the partisan divide

THE SITUATION: The Partisan Divide ... The U.S. is divided into two partisan camps. It seems like human nature. “People are just that way,” is what we tell ourselves. No! It’s our system. The Founders talked about a “balance of powers, “ rational debate,” “advice and consent,” etc. But the collective conversation our Constitution assures is a “power struggle.” So it all becomes a quest for money and power as special interests use “hate radio,” “fake news,” personhood for corporations, and partisan gridlock to get their way ... at the expense of the public interest. Rather than a thoughtful quest to determine what's best for all, the public conversation is now more a quest for money, disgusting and excluding ordinary citizens.

The answer is to facilitate a new kind of public conversation. It's the kind where everyone takes “time out” to think together in a new spirit. It's where “We the People" face our biggest issues and determine thoughtful solutions that work for all. And where "We" provide responsible leadership to government.

Given a set of social innovations, this shift in our national thinking process is not hard to facilitate. The innovations include:

  • Choice-creating — is the name we've given to the essential creative, heartfelt form of conversation needed for “We the People” to come into being. When people step back, face impossible-seeming issues creatively and collaboratively, and determine win/win solutions this is different than discussion, dialogue, deliberation, negotiation, decision-making, problem-solving, etc.
  • Dynamic Facilitation — is a way to reliably evoke choice-creating in small groups. It uses charts of Solutions, Data, Concerns, and Problem-statements to create a space where every comment can be heard and appreciated, no matter what its tone or intent. Using it we provide for people to speak authentically with feeling, yet where all feel safe and accepted, and where each comment brings the group toward unity.
  • The Wisdom Council Process—is a way to evoke the spirit of choice-creating in large systems like a nation, a city or even the world. Using this approach the people come together as “We the People,” a thoughtful entity powerful enough to change the system. The process starts simply, just bringing together twelve to twenty-four random citizens every four months or so. They meet for just a few days. Using Dynamic Facilitation to spark choice-creating. the Wisdom Council reaches a shared perspective, which it presents to all. Generally people support this perspective and begin talking together in a new spirit of collaboration. In time this ability for people to reach unity on difficult issues becomes, by itself, a new system of governance.

These innovations are both hypothetical and proven. Along with communication technologies like the internet, broadcast media, and web-based conversation approaches, it is now possible to involve the whole country in one high quality "We the People" conversation.


1) The Conveners

First, we gather a core group of people interested in convening a national Wisdom Council process Ideally this group is well networked with access to funds, media and government leaders. These are people concerned about the big issues of society who understand how this Wise Democracy strategy works. At first they meet in a series of face-to-face dynamically-facilitated meetings, building shared understandings and a shared vision. Ultimately, they facility the all-inclusive “We the People” conversation.

2) The Strategy ... prospective
Step 1: Convene a short series of national Wisdom Councils on the issue.
  • First, promote these events so there is widespread interest among citizens. Gain the backing of co-sponsors, media partners, and funders.
  • Determine a “dragon issue”—a hot, ill-defined impossible-seeming problem that needs a breakthrough, like money-in-politics, immigration, government debt, the environment, or energy security.
  • Hire a firm to randomly gather twelve to twenty-four random citizens -- a different group each Wisdom Council -- to address the issue.
  • Convene a set of large live media events where each Wisdom Council presents its results to the nation and the world. After the presentation the local audience as well as the broadcast audience are invited to converse in small groups.
  • Help community organizers, NGO’s and governments convene simultaneous local events where people hear a telecast of the Wisdom Council presentations, and visit in face-to-face conversation. These simultaneous large and small group gatherings can happen where people watch and talk about the results can happen in any number of formats.
  • Provide a way that all people can report back their level of resonance with the Wisdom Council, in a way that all can see the extent of national resonance.
  • Structure a way that people throughout the nation can continue talking about and developing these ideas.
  • Provide for large scale meetings where government agencies and NGO’s can meet, consider and respond to the evolving “We the People” conclusions.

Step 2: Assure that the Wisdom Council Process is ongoing. This way a legitimate and powerful “We the People” can assume leadership. And as this happens it represents a shift in our system to Wise Democracy.

3) Assure that the Wisdom Council Process is Structured into Society
As people gain experience with the effectiveness of the Wisdom Council process we need to help local and regional organizations and officials to also use it. For instance, in Austria the elected legislators have taken the lead by amending their state constitutions to include the Wisdom Council. Ultimately, this process should be adopted into the U.S. Constitution as well. See the Wise Democracy Amendment, which lays out the safe, simple details of this deep structural change to our economics, politics, culture, etc.

We now know that the Wisdom Council is unique and it works. It is a realistic, accessible win/win strategy ... where all citizens come together, feel empowered, solve impossible-seeming issues, build the spirit of community, and restructure ourselves to become sustainable and fair. All this, just by adding a new conversation to what we already have.
Please help in any way you can.