NEW YORK, June 23, Bright and Early – The 2008 Personal Democracy Forum annual conference begins with Zephyr Teachout initiating the conference’s efforts to “reboot the system,” this year’s theme. Introducing Zephyr, Micah Sifry describes rebooting the system as a multi-front effort to achieve four main goals:
1. Shifting the influence on Washington from big money to small money, enabled by the Internet.
2. Enhancing accountability through real-time, citizen-based, full-frontal, new media that does not allow politicians to say one thing and do another.
3. Promoting transparency in politics and among those who impact politics.
4. Supporting grass roots movements that truly convey the desires of citizens and impact politics to make sure those desires are met.
Mr. Sifry recalls Zephyr’s original goal as an Internet organizer for the Dean campaign to “shift the locust of political power.” His first question and the question of the conference every year: has the Internet shifted political power yet?
Zephyr believes it’s more possible than ever, that innovation is everywhere and its potential to help achieve the above goals is limitless. But with so many tools, innovations and ways to apply them, there are also plenty of false profits, plenty of innovations that are merely industrial and not designed to enhance the efficiencies of citizens and citizenship.
Zephyr encourages citizens interested in harnessing Internet innovations in order to achieve a better democracy to ask some key questions:
“Is what is being offered an industrial innovation or a citizen innovation? Is it cross-class? Joining people or dividing people? Are people’s contributions that of citizens or simply volunteers?”
A key objective of the Personal Democracy Forum is to ask and even answer these questions about the latest innovations, tools, and initiatives for enhancing personal democracy and true citizen participation in the political system.