Monday, 17 December 2007

Or how to save the world by starting an argument

What’s a Plank Party?

It’s the way VoteMickey supporters from all ends of the continuum come together to find answers to difficult questions and to identify candidates that are able to do the hard work that necessary to fix this country. Here’s how it works:

1. Anyone who wants to moderate a plank chooses a “Core Topic”. Core topics keep us from wasting time and energy on issues that only divide- See Mickey Doctrine PHASE 2- FOCUS ON CORE ISSUES to learn how to build Core Topics and how to avoid Fringe Topics.

2. The moderator chooses two “designers” the heavy lifters in a plank debate- It usually works best when an open minded conservative and liberal are chosen. Although many commentators tend to offer useful input, the three members of the ‘plank team’ are charged with building the plank.

In an open political forum these three primary players define the issues that must be addressed to build a workable plank. Although the designers are expected to bring the majority of issues to the table, the moderator has a tough job to keep discussion on topic, and to integrate input from the broader discussion forum.

3. The real work starts after the initial issues have been outlined. The designers increase the odds of building real solutions by swapping roles, i.e. the liberal designer is usually tasked with building reasonable solutions for conservative issues, while the conservative designer is responsible for building the liberal’s case. Usually this phase works best with a bit of a ‘blackout’ 24 hours or so for the designers to begin to get their hands around topics that should seem foreign and difficult by definition.

4. The moderator’s real job now begins because his job is to merge and synthesize a fully integrated plank that solves the issue from all practical perspectives. Moderation becomes a true juggling act as the moderator needs to remain neutral, but also remain responsible for the actions of the designers. Moderators must keep the discussion focused, civil, and constructive removing any forum debaters who are intentionally distractive.

5. If designers have been chosen well, there is a good chance that they will think out of the box, and overcome much of the group-think that is tied to major party planks. However, if one or both are unable to carry the cause, avoid the distractions of the forum, and especially to protect the discussion from extremist of their own persuasion, the moderator has to be willing to replace them at any time.

6. Timing seems somewhat variable- It seems to take a few days to collect good information to overcome the derision that is built into political debate. However, once the plank team pulls thinking out of the status quo, thinking usually moves rather fast and it’s unusual for a plank to take more than 5 days or a week to be roughed out.

7. Once a viable plank has been built and circulated throughout the forum, the real fun and the purpose of the exercise becomes visible. Although the plank was created in an open forum with a wide range of input, the plank team now enlists the assistance of the entire forum to use the plank as a standard candlestick to collect and parse real candidate’s planks. If the candidates plank doesn’t meet or exceed Mickey’s standard, you have to wonder what’s missing.

That’s it! Pick something relatively easy first time out like ‘a good education for everyone’ and don’t worry about duplicating Mickey Planks that have been built in the past- Theoretically, the best plank might be an amalgamation of multiple planks and any plank that is built for Mickey is worth considering.

And do you want to know the most interesting aspect?

When we had plank debates in 04, it was amazing to see what happened when distracters tried to derail discussions, demonizing the opposition, and attempting to overpower the give and take that is crucial. Almost every time, it was the designer of similar background to the distracter who solved the problem. Considering the hard work the designer undergoes to see things from all angles, the designer usually sees through the subterfuge, and often is the first to pull away from their home party group-think. Almost every time, the liberal designer asked disruptive liberals to leave the discussion while conservatives acted exactly the same way-

When you think about it, this kind of behavior makes it clear that building a plank for MickeyMowse is an unsual and different way of looking at the politics.

Have fun!
Mickey’s campaign manager

Let’s start a conversation about change!