Below is a response to a post on one city blog.
I believe in the importance of ground level political involvement. Mike Gravel said that democracy in America is broken. If you cannot fix the ground level politics, there is no hope to fix the politics at the top.
Mike Gravel said the power of politics is the power to make laws. So maybe the ground level political involvement can focus on how ordinary people can be more involved in making local laws.
If the local politicians put the boundary on what we can do politically, I think there are a lot more local affairs that are beyond the scope of traditional politics. For example, just in your neighborhood, what you can do to make this neighborhood better? For example, make different demographic people more communicating with each other? Hold joint festivals? Or create art projects within the neighborhood? Or have block parties? Make the neighborhood more like a community. There are a lot of things people can get involved to make their neighborhood better. You can just take the initiatives and get people involved.
The web already allows people to organize in an open and transparent way. For example, you can try using openplans.org for your projects. As long as the process is open and transparent, people would love to be involved in your project. They will recognize your authority and leadership, provided you keep doing a fairly good job.
We are in a different time now. The scarce resource is people’s attention. We all need to compete for people’s attention. The traditional politics already failed in drawing people’s attention. The open transparent ground-up self-organizing projects will be the places that people will choose to go. It is like the open source projects. Whether you can get people involved with your project totally depends on whether your project is deemed sufficiently useful and whether the process of the project is open and fair.
Actually just look at IDP. It is an example of how people can organize on the ground level. Although its scope is a little bigger (people of all NYC), it is building something interesting and meaningful, and if well-built can be an infrastructure of this big community of NYC.
In a summary, what people can do and organize together to improve our social lives, are way beyond the scope of the traditional politics. Initiate and participate in various community projects in our social domain is the way to take back our democracy. Maybe when we can do well and have very mature experiences and models in all these self-organizing projects, it will be time for us to take back politics. I mean it will be time for people to be involved to make laws that are currently monopolized by a few minorities.