Citizen-to-citizen connects

Here's an outline that describes a new kind of online system, one that I discuss at some length in a podcast late last week. You might want to listen to that podcast if you find the idea described here interesting.

1. It's not a community. We already have community systems, for example, Twitter and Facebook. We already know what they can do.

2. It pairs people, one from a red state, one from a blue. Think of them as electronic penpals.

3. They have similar backgrounds. For example, both are teachers, with two kids, living in a suburban neighborhood. So they recognize facets of each others' lives. Or a divorced truck driver paying child support in Georgia is paired with one in California. A programmer in Salt Lake City with one in Boston.

4. No minds are changed. Very important point. This is not about talking someone into agreeing with your conclusion. It is, however, about understanding their point of view, the things they are passionate about and why. How each of you reached different answers to the same question.

5. The system chooses the pairings. Two or more people may arrive together, for example members of the same family. If you already know the person you're communicating with, you may have formed opinions about the person. We want you to start fresh with a clean slate. No baggage.

6. Communication is via email that is passed through a proxy. So the system operators keep and can read a copy of all communication, and can ask both of you questions, or suggest topics to discuss. We may be reading what you write, so we can better understand what the differences are and where there might be points of agreement.

7. Nothing will be made public, unless both parties agree.

6. We ask you to try to compromise where there are strong differences. We all compromise all the time. But we go back and forth between extremes. Maybe we can find a middle ground that we can agree to long-term.

9. A personal comment. I suspect we will find there is agreement in important areas, like taxes, health care, education. One thing we learned about in the election of 2016 is that citizens on both sides pretty much want the same thing. We've been forced onto different sides by the political parties. Unnecessarily, and with very negative consequences. At this point the qualities of the candidates are irrelevant. The election is decided. Now we can try to reach compromises and possibly find agreement that was below the surface.

The only goal I have in proposing this is learning. I think it's possible we can change politics at the citizen-to-citizen level so we are not so manipulated by the (my opinion) ridiculous and exhausting process we currently use in the US to decide our leadership.


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