Part of the vision of our parent organization, The Open Planning Project, is to provide open-source tools that increase civic engagement and government transparency. Thus, it is with interest that I see in the Chronicle of Higher Ed’s Campaign U blog that both the Democratic and Republican National committees are asking citizens for input on their campaign platforms. First, the RNC created an on-line forum asking members to answer questions about policy issues; the DNC stated that they will follow suit, and are also providing a toolkit for people interested in hosting platform meetings to develop position papers advising the committee on the national platform. (Hat tip to Education Election).
I wonder what process the committees will use to consolidate all the opinions they gather through these forums and meetings, and, of course, what voters have to say about national education policy. I haven’t created an account to participate in either party’s forum, but I wonder whether participants will be able to see and respond to other participants’ postings, as in a blog, bulletin board, or wiki, or whether each participant will simply submit his or her views. In a face-to-face meeting, enough consensus must be reached to create a position paper (although, of course, varying opinions could be reflected within). A process (on-line or in person) where citizens are encouraged to explore the issues and think about other citizens’ responses holds more potential for refinement of ideas, sharing of knowledge, and learning by everyone.
This promises to be interesting….