open politics

Open politics is a theory of how to do politics itself in a way which is more transparent, more consensual, and more democratic than current political systems. It advocates using deliberation among equal participants to directly decide questions of policy. The deliberations can be convened both in face to face town hall meetings and over the internet using mass collaboration technologies. By substantially flattening decision making hierarchies, and increasing access to information, open politics hopes to substantially increase the accountability and performance of governing institutions while allowing a wider and more diverse participation in decision making.

At the root it proposes deliberative democracy to compliment and/or absorb some of the legislative functions in a representative democracy. One simple way of saying this is that in addition to an elected house of representatives there could be a deliberative commons though which bills must also pass.

For an introduction see about open politics and why open politics. This article is a more complete definition of the phenonemon itself.

Open politics is a methodology to achieve good government

Open politics is not an ideology. It has no social or economic programme attached to it. Open Politics is a methodology for finding the democratic "middle of the road" politically speaking and moving forward. Essentially, it is a means to good government.

Open Politics addresses the problem of good government by removing or reducing obstacles. There are methods to alleviate each of the problems listed above and other problems that yet remain unforeseen. While old fashioned politics as usual is pretty formidable and daunting when you look at it as a system that hangs together and tends to reinforce itself, the Achilles heel of the old system is that more and more people identify it as a lose-lose system, which holds back progress and prevents us from enjoying a better quality of life.

First Principles of Open Politics

  • Democratic - All citizens have an equal right to participate in the political process.
  • Objective - It is imperative to separate ideas and policies from personalities.
  • Deliberative - that deliberation (as opposed to rhetoric) is the best means to wisdom.
  • Accountable - that citizens need not tolerate being lied to, or kept in the dark by their elected representatives.
  • Transparent - that costs of abandoning secrecy are less than the benefits of transparency.

Implementing Open Politics

Open politics is about restoring the classical vision of what democracy is supposed to be. For the most part, it is a set of best practices that just need to be . . . practiced. The biggest reason why it is not often practiced is mainly because it is not taught, and most people, unfortunately, spend most of their lives in autocratic institutions of one form or another, which thrive on authority, secrecy and patronage.

It can be implemented at the level of a community group, or within any level of government.

Why it works

Diplomatically, open politics trains people to write for enemy eyes, and invite those enemies into their camp to co-opt and seduce without seeking to subvert. No sedition is implied, but, much seduction, as a common list of policy terms and IPAs will emerge, making agreements possible on areas that previously were subject to posturing and/or fear based on ideology. An open politics is necessarily counter- and anti-ideological. It dilutes ideology by wider consultation and empirical methods, e.g. Platform 2005 test methods. Explicit factions reassure and bolster and train people, but, ultimately, no one faction controls policies. But all come to trust the method by which it was produced, sausage-like or no.

Strategically, open politics relies on participatory democracy, transparency, scientific method and peer review, and prefers chaordic methods over command hierarchy except for very limited short term mission. See cognitive politics and manage leaders for more exploration of leadership in open politics.

Examples of it in use

Both full cost accounting and green politics can said to be examples of open political methods. See Beyond GAAP for accounting reform, public management, public accounts reform and monetary reform implications of open politics.

Pages describing related issues for open politics itself include:

positions on open politics:


The open politics movement parallels the free software and open content movements, and relies on both to create what is claimed to be a more "open" and "transparent" means of decision making. According to Wikipedia, "it grew from earlier work in online deliberation and deliberative democracy, which in turn drew on research in issue-based argument and early hypertext and Computer Supported Cooperative Work research... Gradually, as there came to be more and more software and content of political and legal interest, there also came to be more and more entities relying on it for decisions."

Supporters of Howard Dean and the Green Party of Canada pioneered open politics with tools like Deanspace - now civicspace - and the Green Party of Canada Living Platform - which content evolved into openpolitics.ca itself.

Today the dkosopedia.com project to document all Guantanamo Bay detainees is probably the most notable and worthy open politics project. It is supported by the ACLU and former President of the United States Jimmy Carter.

Sourcewatch, Consumerium, and other transparency-focused projects can reasonably be considered to be doing "open politics" of a limited sort. Due to its pioneering of adversarial process for dispute resolution regarding articles, and its vast content of interest in political matters, Wikipedia may also be reasonably considered to be part of this domain.

Certainly, the GFDL corpus (which includes all the content of Sourcewatch, Consumerium, Wikipedia and Dkosopedia) has provided a great deal for political factions to argue over!