Submitted by OpenPgh on Wed, 03/16/2016 - 19:52
The 2016 election year brought to the polls large numbers of first time voters and those who seldom vote. The overblown hype and distrust that was sown proved to be quite divisive and has wasted energies which could be put to more productive use. By focusing entirely upon the selection of public office holders, we've been missing the boat hoping meaningful solutions might trickle down.
We must realize that, by its very nature, electoral democracy is really a matter of top-down governance, regardless its level, and that government in its present form is insufficient to address today's challenges. Though electing good candidates is important and not to be discounted, it's time that we also devote attention to building a new bottom-up approach through which average citizens can work together within the halls of government to better monitor and hold it accountable while they catalyze needed change.
“Open data” is currently a popular topic, but that's merely one aspect of transparency. Furthermore, most people equate transparency with open government, but it's really just one of the four essential pillars -- transparency, timely notification, pro-active public participation, and official accountability -- all of which must exist if we are to have truly open government. By implementing these first through a comprehensive set of reforms at the municipal level, beginning with one and then a number of communities, we can build a base of open government that can eventually be expanded to other levels of government too.