Common sense tells us that lawmaking depends upon getting people to agree. So why in the world do we see so much fighting in today’s politics?
It seems that governmental entities on every level, are embroiled in conflict. With citizens. From Washington, D.C., to Colorado Springs we have lost our political way.
We have lost a vital part of political life.… the art of the deal.
Dealmaking can be a winning process for everyone. Ideally, making a deal or negotiation is bargaining between two or more parties. Each represented side has its own aims, needs and viewpoints. By talking, they all seek to discover a common ground and reach an agreement to settle a matter or resolve a conflict.
Negotiation is supposed to be discussion with give and take aimed at reaching an agreement. But so many times when our government officials sit at the table with citizens there is only a monologue. Even when both sides take turn speaking.
I wish that I were talking about just bureaucrats, but it appears that elected officials have also decided to ignore citizens, too. Government is talking at us, not with us. And that is, when they even bother to respond.
This is what is behind the rise in the popularity of socialism and populism.
Socialism is a political approach that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the state representing the community. Those promoting it feel that concerns are disregarded by established elite groups but especially government. This approach is being promoted by liberals.
Populism is a political approach that that seeks to return sense of political control to ordinary people. They want the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by individuals within the community. Those promoting it feel that their concerns are disregarded by established elite groups but especially government. This approach is being promoted by conservatives.
Socialism and populism have a common denominator — anger at feeling unheard.
Citizen attempts at engagement with government too often go nowhere. Many times, if there is a meeting, there might be only one. Often citizens are not afforded the courtesy of additional meetings. Citizens get shut down, and the status quo remains.
Problems go unresolved. Citizens are reaching the conclusion that it is the people vs. the government. This is a recipe for disaster.
This isn’t just a national problem. It is a Colorado problem. It is also a Pikes Peak region problem. From the offices of CSPD, The Sheriff’s Office, City Council, to the Mayors’ office, county commissioners and beyond — often we don’t have negotiation. There is no give and take.
Just the status quo.
Instead of negotiation, they receive messages like this: “Trust us.” “We’ll see.” “Just keep the peace on your end.”
Negotiation is supposed to be a series of meetings. When you receive an offer, a counteroffer should be made. Instead of spending most of the time defending the government viewpoint, the government should spend more time listening and find clues for discussion.
We need some more officials who are more willing to make deals. Can government bring some “give” to the taxation “take.”
There is another “ism” in the air that is also anger driven. Revolution. Revolution refers to a movement, often violent, to overthrow an old regime and effect. It is complete change in the fundamental institutions of society.
The only thing standing between government on all levels, citizens and any of these “isms” is negotiation. Civil servants in Colorado and beyond had better search and find a way to share power.
It is time to listen. It is time to find common ground. It is time to offer and make compromises. Government attempts to keep the power that is meant to be shared has become toxic. Anger among citizens is spreading. Maintaining the status quo on the part of government has become a danger to us all. We must try to regain the art of the deal.
Rachel Stovall is a longtime community advocate and organizer. Also a fundraising, media and marketing consultant, Stovall is most known for singing with her dance band Phat Daddy and the Phat Horn Doctors.