"For far too long, we've been living in what I've called a broadcast democracy. Voters only count during election time. They have little or no influence in between elections, when the lawmakers and influencers are in charge and citizenry is inert. The 'you vote, I rule' model was all that was possible, until recently.
What the system has lacked until now are mechanisms enabling government to benefit from the wisdom and insight that a nation can collectively offer -- on an ongoing basis. I'm not proposing some kind of direct democracy, where citizens can vote every night on the evening news or Web sites. That would be tantamount to a digital mob.
What I am proposing is a way to allow citizens to contribute ideas to the decision-making process -- to get them engaged in public life. When citizens become active, good things can happen. We all learn from each other. Initiatives get catalyzed. People become active in improving their communities, country and the world. This is long overdue. These days, the policy specialists and advisers on the public-sector payroll can barely keep pace with defining the problems, let alone craft the solutions. Government can't begin to amass the in-house expertise to deal with the myriad challenges that arise. Governments need to create opportunities for sustained dialogue between voters and the elected.
Courtesy of the Internet, public officials can now solicit citizen input at almost no cost, by providing Web-based background information, online discussion, and feedback mechanisms. Government can now involve citizens in setting the policy agenda, which can then be refined on an ongoing basis. Such activity engages and mobilizes citizens, catalyzing real-life initiatives in communities and society as a whole."
(Don Tapscott, March 16, 2009)
"Not for the first time in history, the international challenge for social democrats is to save capitalism from itself: to recognise the great strengths of open, competitive markets while rejecting the extreme capitalism and unrestrained greed that have perverted so much of the global financial system in recent times. It fell to Franklin Delano Roosevelt to rebuild American capitalism after the Depression. It fell also to the American Democrats, strongly influenced by John Maynard Keynes, to rebuild postwar domestic demand, to engineer the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe and to set in place the Bretton Woods system to govern international economic engagement. And so it now falls to President Obama's administration - and to those who will provide international support for his leadership - to support a global financial system that properly balances private incentive with public responsibility in response to the grave challenges presented by the current crisis. The common thread uniting all three of these episodes is a reliance on the agency of the state to reconstitute properly regulated markets and to rebuild domestic and global demand.
The second challenge for social democrats is not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. As the global financial crisis unfolds and the hard impact on jobs is felt by families across the world, the pressure will be great to retreat to some model of an all-providing state and to abandon altogether the cause of open, competitive markets both at home and abroad. Protectionism has already begun to make itself felt, albeit in softer and more subtle forms than the crudity of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930. Soft or hard, protectionism is a sure-fire way of turning recession into depression, as it exacerbates the collapse in global demand. The intellectual challenge for social democrats is not just to repudiate the neo-liberal extremism that has landed us in this mess, but to advance the case that the social-democratic state offers the best guarantee of preserving the productive capacity of properly regulated competitive markets, while ensuring that government is the regulator, that government is the funder or provider of public goods and that government offsets the inevitable inequalities of the market with a commitment to fairness for all. Social democracy's continuing philosophical claim to political legitimacy is its capacity to balance the private and the public, profit and wages, the market and the state. That philosophy once again speaks with clarity and cogency to the challenges of our time."
(Kevin Rudd, February 2009, No. 42, The Monthly)
"For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace."
(Barack Obama, BBC NEWS)
"The financial disclosure reports of the presidential candidates for the year 2007 and January 2008 contain important news for the professional political community: online small donors have arrived in force. After a decade of brilliant flashes, including, most recently, the 'money bomb,' millions sent to Ron Paul, internet fundraising has been turned into a steady flame. In 2008, Barack Osama's campaign received more than one million dollars every day, from a network of givers about to welcome its one millionth member.
It is now beyond dispute that a properly constructed campaign can draw upon the contributions of a great many people in sufficient amounts over a lengthy period of time. It can make itself financially competitive with campaigns relying on the traditional methods of high-roller finance committees, exclusive events, and PAC [political action committee] contributions. The money acquired online still heads mostly to traditional media, especially television. This points to the political Achilles Heel of the internet: a campaign cannot use this new medium effectively to reach people who have not already indicated an interest in its candidate."
(Michael Cornfield, 21/2/2008)