Thursday, July 12th, 2012
In his Time Ideas column this week, former Clinton speechwriter Eric Liu calls for citizens to take a more active role in their self-governance. Liu argues that citizens must step up given our dire financial situation, and quotes former presidential candidate Newt Gingrich approvingly: “if we shrink government then we have to grow citizens.”
Liu also argues that technology is making it easier for citizens to effectively take more control:
Technology is rapidly rewriting the relationship between state and citizen.
Consider platforms like SeeClickFix, which allows anyone to post a photo and the location of local problems like potholes or graffiti, and prompts neighbors or town officials to address them. IndieGoGo crowdsources funding for community projects that once might have been publicly funded. Such platforms not only give people power but allow them to see themselves not only as clients or cranky customers but also as responsible co-owners.
A new deal for citizenship is emerging, and it makes the debate about big versus small government seem irrelevant. We need government today that’s big on the what and small on the how–government that sets great goals for society and offers ample resources, but then fosters more bottom-up innovation in methods.
This means we need more competitive challenges such as the X Prize or the Buckminster Fuller Challenge, which offer big monetary awards for teams that solve complex technical or social problems. The administration is already using grand challenges to spur education reform and clean energy development.
Read the rest of Liu’s call here.