rohit at ics.uci.edu
Tue Aug 19 22:53:54 PDT 2003
> RadicalCentrism.org is an anti-partisan think tank based near
> Sacramento, California,
No bonus points for divining which FoRK came up with the idea of
telling Arnie to move *more* to the center. How can anyone be more
radically centered than the center? Unless, of course, it's an
eccentric proletariat :-)
A RADICAL CENTRIST PLATFORM FOR CALIFORNIA
An Open Letter to Recall Candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger
Dear Mr. Schwarzenegger:
Congratulations on your bid to become governor of America's most
populous state. We know that much of the world considers this recall
(and your campaign) little more than a wacky California joke. But we
believe that the recall, despite its background of petty partisanship
and sometimes childish rage, is a refreshing reminder that citizens
want, need, and deserve good governance. And we applaud you for your
goals of wanting to be pro-business, pro-environment, pro-education,
and pro-fiscal responsibility, all at the same time.
Of course, we know where roads paved with good intentions can lead.
Everyone is wondering how you are going to translate these lofty, even
paradoxical, ideals into concrete proposals, policies, and priorities--
in short, into a real political platform. In case you are still
hammering out the details of yours, we wanted to tell you about ours.
We are part of an emerging political movement called Radical Centrism.
 We reject the extremism of an individualistic Right and a
paternalistic Left, as well as the complacency of the so-called
"sensible center." We believe that it is still possible to build a
broad-based governing coalition to pursue fundamental change by
pursuing three common-sense values:
i. Listen critically to everyone
ii. Make the hard decisions openly
iii. Admit to your mistakes
The problem with professional politicians isn't that they're
particularly evil or stupid; it's just that they've fallen into the
very human trap of believing only their friends and ignoring their
critics. As a result, they find themselves making ever greater
compromises to maintain the allegiance of ever narrower vocal
minorities. The only way out is not to worry whether your "core
constituency" likes you, but instead to get the broad majority to
respect you. That starts by treating everyone with respect, including
and especially those who disagree with you (an approach sometimes
called Aikido Politics). 
In particular, we would like you to recommend to you a Radical Centrist
platform focused on a few key areas:
A. Fiscal responsibility
California's financial system reflects a tortured history of
ideological and political battles. Each individual fight was often
noble, but the end result was losing the war of financial discipline.
We urge you to reform the process of how financial decisions are made,
and to create a tax and budget process that is fair, transparent, and
sustainable--regardless of who wins and loses.  Admit the truth:
when we've spent ourselves into the indebtedness that our state has,
there's no painless way out. We believe, however, that people are
willing to accept painful decisions as long as they know that the
process is honest, the pain will be shared, and the results will
B. Professionalized education
The fundamental problem with public education isn't financial, but
structural. Education reform is currently trapped between conservatives
who seemingly want to abandon public education, and liberal teachers'
unions and colleges who appear committed to protecting the present
mediocrity. We believe that the best way to improve education is to
train and reward teachers like professionals rather than bureaucrats.
 In exchange for that newfound respect, however, parents and
communities need to be able to hold educators accountable for their
results, similar to what we expect from businesses and elected
officials. It won't be easy, and it won't be cheap, but people are
amazingly willing to make sacrifices if they believe that it will
really help our kids.
C. Cost-effective Justice
If there's one thing citizens demand from their government, it is
public safety. So it's time to admit that we aren't getting our money's
worth from our antiquated and expensive criminal justice system. We
need a justice system focused on directly addressing the causes and
effects of crime, at both the individual and community level, rather
than simply locking people up so we don't have to think about them.
Many organizations are developing models based on the ideas of
collaborative, therapeutic, or restorative justice, which focus on
transforming communities yet still hold individuals accountable. 
What is needed is leadership from someone tough enough to turn these
models into reality.
D. Energy AND Environment
It's time to explode the myth that economic development and
environmental stewardship are incompatible goals. With our natural,
human, and technological resources, California has an opportunity to
reap the rewards of making the world a better place. The National
Energy Policy Initiative , an alliance of energy producers and
environmental activists, shows that it is possible to find a common
ground that can lead us to a money-making, lifestyle-enriching,
environmentally- sustaining future. If did that in our state, we could
show the world how to save both our trees and our SUVs. 
E. Political reform
You probably know better than anyone that this recall presents a unique
opportunity to take your message directly to the people. Although it
has generally served us well for centuries, the two-party system has
now led to gatekeeper primaries where candidates are tested for
ideological purity, as defined by the faithful few who show up. The end
result is a calcification of political thought and a dearth of
candidates who can represent majority viewpoints. To reinvigorate the
political process, we encourage you to adopt (a) "instant runoffs"
where voters rank candidates in order of preference, and (b)
proportional Presidential voting, where the states' electors are
divided based on the proportion of votes each candidate received. 
Both might wreak havoc with existing party politics, but ultimately
would improve both the choices and the impact of California citizens.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. We know that you have some
smart people on your staff, so hopefully they'll come up with even
better ideas than these. But if nothing else, we hope that this
encourages you to think "outside the box," and dare to make a radical
change--a Radical Centrist change--in California. And perhaps the
powers that be will discover that, even if the recall is a joke, it is
a practical joke. On them.
Your Friends at RadicalCentrism.org
RadicalCentrism.org is an anti-partisan think tank based near
Sacramento, California, which is seeking to develop a new paradigm of
civil society encompassing politics, economics, and philosophy. We are
dedicated to developing and promoting the ideals of Radical Centrism as
expressed in our Radical Centrist Manifesto: The Ground Rules of Civil
Radical Centrist thought is exemplified by such books as The Third Way
(Anthony Giddens) and The Radical Center (Halstead & Lind), as well as
Mark Satin's The Radical Middle Newsletter (See
For a working example of Aikido Politics, see the Rocky Mountain
Institute's definition of "Positive Action."
For innovative thinking on taxation in the digital age, see The Radical
Center (above), pp. 128-147.
The Radical Middle Newsletter, September / October 2002, "What Our
Schools Need Now: Great Teachers, Great Teachers, Great Teachers."
As one example, The PFI Centre for Justice and Reconciliation defines
Restorative Justice as "a systematic response to wrongdoing that
emphasizes healing the wounds of victims, offenders and communities
caused or revealed by the criminal behavior."
The National Energy Policy Initiative is a non-governmental,
non-partisan, foundation-funded project designed to support the
development of a stakeholder-based national energy policy.
See the Rocky Mountain Institute's Hypercar(TM) project, which aims to
spur development of vehicles such as a triple-efficiency SUV.
See Halstead & Lind's in-depth analysis of electoral reform in The
Radical Center (above), pp. 109-123, arguably the most compelling
section of the book.
More information about the FoRK