Austin Constitution Meetup March 19, 2009 Presented by Jon Roland Selling Constitutional Compliance
Spread of Change • Starts with primary adopters (originators). • Adoption by imitation by secondary adopters. • Spreads from secondary to tertiary, quadranary, etc. • Decisionmakers usually at the end of the chain of influence. • Influence mostly comes from those with whom one is in direct contact. • Broadcast messages reinforce, but don't drive.
Strategy of Reform • Analyze the chain of influence leading to the key decisionmakers. • Influence those with whom you are in direct contact, not just to adopt, but to sell to the next in line. • As influence spreads, one may lose control of its progress. • It may not be possible to influence some, so that they have to be replaced.
Competitors emerge • Changes don't spread without instigating opposition, which may come to spread faster then the reform you seek. • Countering opposition usually involves organizing adopters at all levels. • The conflict will converge on the decisionmakers, who may not be able to understand the reform the way its proponents do, or properly carry it out.
Distributed Decisionmaking • Decisionmaking in most polities is distributed among many persons, not all at the top. • Most reforms, like constitutional compliance, will require the right decisions in every level, branch, and department of government. • This becomes an educational effort, and change of the entire civic culture, not just a few statutes or court decisions. • Decisionmaking must be coordinated and timed or gains in one place will be lost before completion.
Analyze the Opposition • Almost all of the usurpations have a constituency that will oppose reform. • Some of the usurpations have had time to show they don't work, and one can reduce opposition by demonstrating there are better ways. • The interests that rely on the way things are now being done are called “reliance interests”. • We also have to contend with herd behavior: people seeking safety in the center of the herd.
Motivating Reform • Becoming a victim of abuse. • Seeing others being victimized. • Being educated on the causes and remedies. • Doing the work of developing the remedies. • Finding like-minded people and organizing. • Finding a charismatic leader. • Winning small victories that build morale. • Adopting an attainable timetable.
Simple Solutions Aren't • Most people respond emotionally to problems but not solutions. • Abstract, complex proposals lose people. • Yet most of these problems do not have simple solutions. • The most appealing simple solutions are probably ineffective or even counterproductive. • Read Jay Forrester, “Counterintuitive Behavior of Social Systems”.
History of Constitutional Compliance • The constitutional compliance movement is as old as the country. • It has had some victories, but between really serious abuses that affected millions of people, it has mainly been among a few intellectuals, supported by a wider patriot community. • It seems to need a charismatic leader, but we have gotten a lot of false prophets. • A charismatic leader who is also strong on the details is difficult to find.
Government Opposition • Since about 1900 almost every reform movement has provoked an oppressive response from government actors. • After WWII constitutional compliance efforts of various kinds, under various names, have been targeted as never before for criminal prosecutions, tax audits, and other oppressive actions. • However, the movement seems to have grown large enough to make it difficult to suppress.
People are angry and scared • But they are still not educated or organized. • Too many are being misled by false prophets with half-baked legal ideas. • They are overwhelmed by the size and complexity of the problem, as well as of the remedies. • The economic meltdown might encourage positive change, but it may also lead to a misguiding “man on a white horse”.