As the inventor of Tiered Democratic Governance (TDG), I will be the first to say that if we only change out the system of western elections for TDG elections, we are only rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. This essay will describe several skills and attitudes we need to learn to make the TDG work.
Skill #1: Voting based on good character and capacity for governance
In western democracies, wiser voters spend considerable effort analyzing the issues and coming to some conclusion on the best direction society should take. They then analyze which politician or political party aligns best with their position--and then vote for that person or party.
The voting decision of the less-wise voters is probably more influenced by the quality of the advertising message at election time.
The TDG, citizens will not look at the issues to make their voting decision. Rather they will vote for one of their neighbors who displays "good character and capacity for governance." The underlying premise is that if the better people are called into governance, better decisions for society will result.
Each citizen for decide for him- or herself what constitutes "good character." When casting a vote, some voters will prefer representatives who are approachable and friendly. Some will prefer intellect and critical thinking. Some voters will prefer being relatively free of the various vices--thus being able to give more attention to governance. Some will look at the positive life examples such as career or family. Some will look at previous community service as being important. Even though "good character" is not precisely defined, when good character is actively sought out as a reason to vote for someone, most elected representatives will be people of good character--and the public will recognize this attribute of the TDG.
And each citizen would decide for him- or herself what constitutes "capacity for governance." Perhaps the best example is how has the current neighborhood representative taken on the responsibilities in his or her one-year term. Does he like this volunteer job? Does she hold regular TDG meetings? Is she attending other meetings in the neighborhood? Does he take part in lots of one-on-one conversations in the neighborhood? Is she showing abilities to get along with the various personalities and perspectives in the neighborhood? If the elected representative is doing a fine job, then he or she is worthy of the vote in the next election, but voters should still look around a little. If the elected representative is not showing much capacity, then the next vote should be cast towards someone else, and neighborhood is not beset by an ineffective representative for very long.
Skill #2: Shunning of Electioneering
Any neighbor who is wanting the job too much should not be voted for. If the person is always complaining about the incumbent representative--as if other neighbors cannot judge properly about the incumbent's good character and capacity--votes should go to someone other than the complainer. Or if a neighbor conducts even a minor campaign like "Vote for me, I will get things done", votes should be cast for someone else. Or if a handful of neighbors recommend voting for someone, maybe that recommended person should not be voted for as well.
For the TDG to work, people will need to be trained to recognize electioneering and cast their votes in another direction. There will always be other good people to vote for who are not electioneering.
Skill #3: Consultative Decisions
Western democracy teaches us that however we have come to our positions on various issues, those positions are 100% right. And people who disagree with us are fools. This polarization then sets up a democratic contest: Shout loud, shout long, make deals to get votes,--and win the right to implement our version of how the world should work. This attitude has to stop with the TDG.
In the TDG, you are encouraged to bring your knowledge, wisdom, and experience into any decision making forum, but you need to accept that whatever you have is still limited--and other people have knowledge, wisdom, and experience you don't have.
The idea is not to get your knowledge, wisdom, and experience implemented, but to combine it with the knowledge, wisdom, and experience of the other participants. In this way, new solutions can be created that neither side could have thought of by themselves. But we need to open to find that magic. For the TDG to work, perhaps St. Francis said it best: "Seek first to understand, then be understood."
Skill #4: Respect for TDG Decisions
Western democracy teaches us that if our political leadership reaches a decision that is contrary to our thinking, we can claim the decision is coming from fools. Even though we individuals are only working somewhat outside the issues and on an irregular basis, we are so much smarter than a group working directly and fulltime with an issue. We are just so much smarter than any group. And if we really don't like the decision, then we have the freedom to publicly oppose it and work towards to its defeat.
The attitude must be different for the TDG. When a contrary decision is reached, the citizens needs to analyze how the decision was made: (1) the TDG found some pretty good people to put into its decision-making forums, (2) they were working with a consultative attitude rather trying to implement their own agenda, (3) they looked at lots of new information before making the decision, and (4) they are not attached to the decision--meaning that if it doesn't work, the decision can be amended or rescinded.
In this sense, the citizen may feel: "I don't understand why this decision was made, but let's give it some time to see how it works."
Practicing these Skills
I'm going to be first to say that these skills are not exactly easy. We have been trained to think in an arrogant way, and it will take some time to shed our western democracy attitudes.
For those of us who want to learn these skills, the best place is to start building the TDG. For starters, the early TDG will not be attractive to citizens with an extreme, toxic, and negative perspectives of the world. Rather the early TDG will a gathering of citizens who are optimistic for the future--and realize that there can be another way to govern a society. The right people will be attracted to this social movement which makes the learning easier.
The first two tasks of building the TDG will be promoting the TDG in the neighborhood and writing up the local TDG constitutions. While the TDG constitutions are indeed important, perhaps their more important function to give a forum to practice consultation skills. In other words, if the consultation is good, so too will be the constitution.
The early TDG will not interfere with the current political discourse. Its job is neither to criticize the current government nor give recommendations to the current government. Instead the TDG builders should minimize their political activities to put their spare energy and time into TDG affairs. The political world will move in its own direction without the TDG builders. But the TDG will only move forward with the TDG builders.
If the early TDG builds the right culture, more people will join and be willing to learn these new ways. The early TDG will transition into the middle TDG stage, which then will then transition to the maturing TDG stage. At this time, there will be some contact between the TDG and the political world--and the TDG will, with all its newly learned skills, will be mature enough to handle that contact--making it more appealing to the citizenry.
There will be a time when it is quite obvious to many the TDG is a viable replacement for governance. This is when the TDG-in-waiting stage starts. Further maturation and earning the trust and respect of the general citizenry is the objective of this last stage. Both the citizens (through a referundum) and the legislatures (through their legislative process) will approve of the formal transfer of power. Then all citizens vote for their neighborhood representatives on an annual basis.
These four TDG stages will take at least a decade to happen. We will need this time to learn the new skills--and make them an integral part of this new culture of governance. But without these skills, the TDG goes nowhere.