Archive for July, 2013

Primary Choices: Evaluating the 2014 PA-Gov Field

Posted July 31, 2013 By Dave Thomer

It’s July 31, 2013. The Pennsylvania primary is in May 2014. So it’s time to decide who I want to be the Democratic nominee for governor. You may ask why I’m looking to make my choice roughly 10 months before the actual primary election. Wouldn’t it be wiser to wait and see what the candidates […]

Norm! or: The Role of Unwritten Rules

Posted July 24, 2013 By Dave Thomer

About a week ago, a standoff over rules in the US Senate was temporarily averted when a number of Republicans agreed to end filibusters on seven of President Obama’s appointees to executive branch positions. The deal means that, at least for now, Democrats in the Senate will not use parliamentary procedure to change the Senate […]

I’m glad I’m not a movie critic, because I find it takes me a considerable amount of time to put my thoughts together about a movie past my initial impression. But the first day of Comic-Con International seems as good a time as any to put down some of my thoughts on Man of Steel, […]

School for Society 10: Share What You Learn

Posted July 16, 2013 By Dave Thomer

Item 10: Reformers must contribute to the base of social knowledge. One of the advantages of a democratic culture is that the exchange of ideas and knowledge helps every citizen to grow and advance toward his or her goals. Democratic reformers should be particularly aware of this. In the course of their work, they will […]

School for Society 9: We All Want to Be Artists

Posted July 9, 2013 By Dave Thomer

Item 9: Reformers must contribute to the artistic and cultural community. This item in the model reflected Dewey’s ongoing interest in aesthetic theory and the arts’ role in a thriving democratic culture. In my dissertation I spent a lot of time laying out Dewey’s notion that art is something that humans deliberately create in order […]

School for Society 8: It’s the Economy, Students

Posted July 8, 2013 By Dave Thomer

Item 8: Reformers must target the economic structure of society. John Dewey was a major critic of the American economic system. He believed that it had a negative effect on many children’s educations, because schools spent their effort to produce efficient workers for the industrial economy rather than effective citizens for a democratic society. Once […]

School for Society 7: Keep It Local

Posted July 7, 2013 By Dave Thomer

Item 7: Reformers must operate at the local level. At first glace this might seem like another obvious item. A particular school is almost by definition local, certainly in comparison with a national movement. But it is worth thinking about exactly how a reform movement school would connect to its local community. One possible answer […]

School for Society 6: Tech Can Bring Us Together

Posted July 6, 2013 By Dave Thomer

Item 6. Reformers must use technology to build community ties. When I reread this part of the model, I laughed and very nearly said, “OK, let’s just move on the next item.” I developed the model between 2002 and 2006, when blogs were the hot new trend in online communities and online social networks were […]

Item 5: The reform movement itself must be democratic. This element warns against adopting top-down structures where a reform movement relies on the work and motivation of a large group of activists/participants but decision-making power rests in a central leadership group or charismatic leader. Such centralized structures open any group committed to improving democracy to […]

Item 4: Reformers must highlight incompatible social tenets. The purpose of a reform movement is to change something in a substantial way. This means that reformers will inevitably encounter resistance from people who are comfortable with the current situation or uncomfortable with the idea of change. This item is a strategy for dealing with that […]