The Big Shift

As an Albertan, I am more than a little interested in the recent resignations high in the Government.  As a former Progressive Conservative, I am more than a little interested in the impact of these on the Party.

I am reminded that, while driving a car, we often slow down suddenly and precipitously, to survey the serious accident on the other side of the road.  The problem is, we should really be paying attention to our own driving, on our own side of the road.  We can actually learn more about the accident if we just attend to our driving, get safely to our own destination, and read the news story the next day, or listen to the car radio 60 minutes and 100 klicks down the road.

Regardless of what happens in any – or every – party one day or one week, there is an underlying shift going on.  The big shift has nothing to do with one party or another, but it is causing the tremors – of destruction and opportunity – in all the parties and in the community as a whole.

The shift is in public – personal – awareness of the opportunity citizens have to make a difference.  For years, citizens have been essentially passive recipients of whatever government would visit on them.  The shift sees citizens recognizing that the idea of democracy makes every one of us citizen politicians, almost like every Swiss is a citizen soldier.  We – citizens – are not consumers of government:  we are producers of government.  At just the same time we are discovering this, so are the citizens of Tunisia.

One of the really important implications of this is that we will move away from inter-party “competition” as the driving force of the political process and into an era in which collaboration will be the driving force.  Even now, and in the future, the product of political action will not be determined by competition between parties:  it will be determined by collaboration between a party and the public.  The party that lifts up the best that Albertans can be, and demonstrates the greatest capacity to collaborate most closely, most constantly, with most Albertans, will be the party that will govern.  And, when it governs, Albertans won’t say that the “X” Party has formed the government:  they will say that Albertans have used the “X” Party to form an Alberta government.

I am now an active participant in the work of the Alberta Party.  I would like to see Albertans use the Alberta Party to form the next government of Alberta.  In order for that to happen, we who are in the Alberta Party need to keep our eyes on the road as we drive by other party’s accidents.  We have our own work to do, and it isn’t helped by rubbernecking.

We need to keep on listening to Albertans — not simply to the words but to the tone, and the body language.  We need to listen as much for what is unsaid as for what is said.  We need to draw out of people their own sense of confidence, their own best aspirations, and dreams.  We need to draw out their imagination, and their energy, and their self-discipline, and their generousity.

We need to keep on drawing Albertans into the Alberta Party.  We need to keep on treating people with respect and assuring them that the Alberta Party will never make loyalty to the Party more important than common humanity.

We need to involve more Albertans in developing the very pragmatic policies that will solve problems, resolve inequities, reduce the impact of our footprint on the earth, create opportunities, and move this province forward.

We need to organize constituency associations, and sell memberships, and recruit potential M.L.A.s, and complete our own leadership selection process, and make sure that leadership is more than one person deep, and develop policy that is the product of many minds, not one or a few.  And the list of our work goes on.

The future of the Alberta Party does not lay in belittling or berating or beating the P.C.s, or the Liberals, or the N.D.s or the Wild Rose at the task they have set themselves – whatever that task is.  Our future lays in knowing and remembering and completing the task we have set for ourselves — creating a movement of citizens who trust their fellow citizens and are prepared to offer themselves as the means by which progressive and democratic government can come to Alberta.

From time to time in the months ahead I will post about the work and challenges facing other parties.  Those will be “downtime” posts – speculative, reflective, idly curious about someone else’s work.   They won’t be any part of my own “getting from here to there”.  I don’t want to be distracted from my driving.

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8 Responses to “The Big Shift”

  1. Tweets that mention The Big Shift « Citizens, Community, Democracy -- Topsy.com Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tammy Maloney, dkingofAlberta. dkingofAlberta said: The Big Shift: http://wp.me/pEtaP-2t […]

  2. Danielle Klooster Says:

    David, THANK YOU!! You have captured my thoughts and feelings so exactly. These values and guiding principles drew me to the party. I’ve been on the “watchful” sidelines, warily waiting to see if the talk is walked. On Friday I made a commitment to be an active part of building the party, ensuring the talk is walked through my own actions. I look forward to working with you!!

  3. Scot Says:

    Thank you. A thoughtful, provocative article.

    Right or wrong, it is often that we are drawn to that which is happening to others {the ‘driving past an accident analogy’} whilst not searching out what is going to affect us if we are not engaged in what is ‘ before us.’
    In upcoming Western Elections in the two western provinces; what we the public are searching for is clear signs and proofs of willingness of participants to collaborate to make the province(s) strong economically; moving forward while strengthening environmental safeguards and growth of the new green, sustainable realities . . . i.e.forms of Eco-tourism and best practices manufacturing and service providers.

  4. Trevor Meister Says:

    Very well put. I have been trying to find a way to trickle out a message like this through the twitter hashtag #abparty but 140 characters were not enough. In the last few days many of the hashtags related to alberta politics have come to resemble typical /slashdot style flame wars. I did a little experiment with filtering out the negative banter from the #abparty tweet stream and was discouraged to find it reduced to a trickle of positive constructive information. It can be hard to resist responding to the negative attacks with similar, but if we can, it will show. Positive events are generative and can create feedback loops that produce more positive output. For example, a couple of weeks ago a couple of constituency associations created logos; within a day or two several more appeared, and for a short time I felt like I was part of something heading in the right direction. I was fully engaged and looking forward to putting even more energy into other creative activities. In the last week though; not as much. It doesn’t take nearly as much energy to start a collection of rocks on a hill rolling (those of us Albertans on the “watchful” sidelines) as it does to move the rocks already settled in the valley.

    • dkingofalberta Says:

      Trevor, I appreciate the effort you put into “screening” the Twitter flow, re: the Alberta Party. We need to check our gut feelings with evidence. Your experiment also speaks to the issue of generative governance, and I’m glad you used the word. I believe in generative democracy, generative politics, and communities that are constantly renewing themselves.

      Politics is a normative game — a values game. Flame wars and the politics of vitriol draw the entire community into a downward spiral. We need to be very disciplined about maintaining an open and inclusive and hopeful attitude: it is too easy for closed-mindedness, and exclusivity, and fear to dominate, as your experiment demonstrated.

      On a tiny, positive note. The Sherwood Park constituency association of the Alberta Party will meet on February 15th. One of the items on our agenda will be a logo. I hope the product will be fun, imaginative, positive, and hopeful. We also have listening and community engagement on our agenda.

  5. Kirsten Says:

    RE:”…passive recipients of whatever government would visit on them.” This is my question these days with respect to the government’s decisions to place Cellular technology installations in communities without hearing the communities themselves. What is the AB party’s take on this issue – here is the confluence of economy, business need, enjoyment, communication, entertainment, and, yet still, lack of hearing community preferences and voice. Imposing, rather than deciding on how we want our cities to look. Lack of due process in how Cellular towers and antennae are installed. 700 are due for our city this year. Yet, there is no appeal, and shortcuts on notification rules. What do you say about the Federally regulated issue that affects our homes in our city and Province. We are encouraged to be passive recipients in this case.

  6. Glenn Taylor Says:

    Thank you for this very thoughtful and timely post David.

    As we move towards active political engagement it will be very hard to stay above the fray of typical partisan political rhetoric. This post came at a very crucial time for Alberta Party members, we cannot stop and watch the accident unfold lest we become part of the carnage.

    A collegue wrote a note the other day that emplored us to keep our integrity high.. no matter what. We must appeal to the good hearts and not be drawn into the muck of the conventional modality of politics.

    This will be a challenge, to speak truth with wisdom and humility.

    Your post is both timely and inspiring. Thank you.

  7. Werner Says:

    Very good article and good points. I have taken the liberty of retweeting this post.

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