ADULT COMMUNITY PROGRAM
THE PEOPLE NOURISHES OUR DEMOCRACY
discuss and resolve real issues that mean something to them
and in so doing learn:
design of the U.S. system of Government
values, not linked to any specific religion or political
political orientation, but instead to the U.S. Constitution
and conflict resolution skills
pro-active group process
widsom handed down by
our founders is that
one person rule is to
be avoided at all costs,
yet that is where non-participation
of the citizenry inexorably
EXERCISE-EVALUATING THE MEDIA
YOU THE PEOPLE CHALLENGE
THE PEOPLE AND AMERICA'S DEMOCRATIC EXPERIMENT
OF YOU THE PEOPLE TO YOUR COMMUNITY
THE PEOPLE HAS THE TOOLS OF DEMOCRACY
EVALUATING THE MEDIA
is a sample exercise. Try it out- you can do it! And this
exercice is even better and easier as a group.
citizens need to understand the the role of the Media in the
American Governmental System. They are often referred to as
the fourth estate for good reason. They are separate from
yet essential to the republican governmental process. Since
the You the PEOPLE process mirrors the real thing they have
an important role here too. Here is an exercise to help you
see how the Media are really part of the system and not separate
2 or 3 different media sources and follow the story. The internet
gives you practically every national newspaper on line. Read
many different newspapers from cities all over the nation,
but at least the Washington Post and Times, The New York Times
and Post, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle,
The Dallas Morning News, The Denver Post, The Wall Street
Journal, The Chicago Tribune plus your local major papers,
Time, Newsweek, U. S. News, all the network and local news
telecasts, Cable news channels, PBS (radio and TV), and local
and national radio. Take written notes on what you find and
focus on the differences in the coverage of the same story,
and where it was placed ( Was it the lead story or on page
2, did the TV newscasts hype your interest by inserting teasers
about it or just drop it in, was it the cover story on one
of the news magazines, etc.). Note what other stories were
playing at the same time and how they seemed to fare vis a
vis the assigned story (coverage, placement, etc.).
these questions for yourselves:
What differences were there in the coverage?
Can you think why these differences were there?
How did the coverage differ among the types of media?
How important do you think this issue really is to the nation?
Were there any other issues you consider important that didn't
Which type stories seemed to get the most coverage?
What does this tell you about the Media coverage in this nation?
Why do you think the Media are this way? Are they likely to
What does this mean to someone seeking to be an active informed
Did this exercise help you to see what you have to do to become
truly informed on an issue? Would it have been easier if you
did it as a group?
in the ultimate authority,
the government will
be safe, because corrupting
the whole mass will
exceed any resources
A YOU THE PEOPLE CHALLENGE
and answer the following questions (not in any particular
How many other countries have freedoms like those of the United
How many other countries are ruled by their citizens? Which
others do not but are somewhat ruled by their citizens and
how do they differ?
How many countries can you find that have freedom in name
How many other democracies/republics can you find in history
and why did they fail?
Would this have been easier and the answers better if you
did it as part of a group.
people who mean to be
their own Governors
must arm themselves
with the power which
YOU THE PEOPLE AND AMERICA'S DEMOCRATIC EXPERIMENT
government is based on the notion that people can rule themselves
without Monarchs or Dictators. This idea was established through
our Declaration of Independence. The Constitution was designed
to give the American people guidance and structure designed
to make this idealistic notion of government work.
in our government power is vested in the individual citizen,
we are perhaps the most radical political experiment functioning
in the world today. Being a citizen is the highest political
office in our Nation. As citizens, we spread our power among
several entities: the President and the Cabinet, members of
Congress, and the justices of the Supreme Court.
essence, our government pits human nature against itself while
helping them learn to improve their natures over time. Humans
crave power and, once having it, will use that power to stay
in power. It's human nature not to share power. We see this
happening in most countries throughout the world (including
has yet to say whether a government based on self-rule and
power-sharing is successful or not. Our government, like others
who have tried this idea called democracy before us, is an
experiment in human behavior. And, because we are one great
big experiment, we are being closely watched by other countries
throughout the world. Some want to copy us, some think they
are copying us, some are afraid of our success so they criticize
us, and some countries have a completely different form of
government (like a dictatorship), in many ways to test whether
ours will work.
citizens have a great responsibility to the future of the
world to make this experiment work. That's why the "You
the People" educational series was developed--to help
this experiment succeed! The only way our government will
continue to succeed is if we, as individual citizens, are
willing to help make it work.
happens to an organization with a lazy uncaring boss? This
type of organization is also lazy and uncaring, mirroring
its boss. We are "the boss" of this Nation. We need
to set the example for our employees--our elected officials.
How can we do this?
government operates under a "representative" form
of democracy. We vote for our government representatives (council
persons, legislators of all kinds, board and commission members,
etc.) every few years. These representatives then make decisions
for us by discussing and voting on issues that are brought
we tend to have very little involvement in our government
other than through these elections. In essence, the only voice
we have is through the people we elect to represent us. This
is our choice, of course, but we tend to stay out of government
business until an election. Sometimes it can be years between
elections. Thus, we citizens are not directly involved in
our government most of the time.
people now seem to want to exercise their power, to watch
and influence their government effectively. They just don't
know how. The You the PEOPLE trains people to accomplish this
goal regularly, responsibly, and effectively. To show people
how and why they should and can be more effectively involved
in their government. This is done through a group process
that allows all to know what is happening while sharing the
work it takes to do this. As a group it can be done easily
and reasonably. People become more aware of their governmental
process and current issues through the use of this process.
They also learn to become better at the seven citizenship
skills of You the PEOPLE. With this training they will be
able to participate effectively in their local government
process when they become eligible to vote.
less government we have
the better. The antidote
to the abuse of power
is the influence of
private character, the
growth of the individual.
USEFULNESS OF YOU THE PEOPLE TO YOUR COMMUNITY
citizen apathy a problem in your community? Does that apathy
cost you money? Would you be better off if the people in your
community took more of an interest in their government? Suggested
solutions to problems? Were knowledgeable voters? Helped out
in solving the problems because they had a stake in the solution?
You the PEOPLE program shows people how and why they should
and can be more effectively informed and involved in their
government. This is done through a group process which establishes
a simple organizational structure for doing this. Citizens
then use this self-teaching process to inform themselves and
hopefully get involved in their government and communities
to help out. They are given the skills they need to work together
as part of a community problem solving team instead of being
apathetic or part of a divisive process.
group process allows everyone to share the work it takes to
do this. This takes away the "too much for one person"
fear of that most people have when they think of becoming
informed about and involved in their government. As a group
it can be done easily and reasonably. People become more aware
of their governmental processes and current issues through
the use of this process.
You the PEOPLE program trains people to accomplish this regularly,
rationally, and responsibly. Equally important, they learn
the skills of civil discourse by using seven "citizenship
skills" in their work which are self-evaluated during
each meeting. These "citizenship skills" are Cooperation,
Patience, Fairness, Respect, Strength, Self-Improvement, and
Balance. They also learn what it takes to be a good representative
first hand so that they can make good choices. It helps local
laws of physics are universal laws. They work everywhere.
One such law is the law of cooperative effort. It is a fact
that one horse alone can pull about 3000 lbs maximum. Two
horses working together can pull about 21,000 lbs. A government
by itself can run a community with reasonable efficiency.
Imagine what a government and the citizens of a community
could do if they cooperate and pull in the same direction?
The group process used in You the PEOPLE is designed to produce
regular, rational, responsible community decision making-
that shifts standard decision making and responsibility from
outside or at the edge of a community to its center.The goal
here is to recruit and form groups that start to cooperate
and communicate with their representatives regularly, responsibly,
and rationally to make a better community.
group's purpose is to forge agreements on common issues using
seven citizenship skills- cooperation, patience, fairness,
respect, strength, self-improvement, and balance. These seven
skills essential to good group decisionmaking are self taught
and self-reinforced in this process. A discussion of them
is the first part of every meeting. An evaluation of how well
they were done happens at the end of every meeting. Homework
is assigned to help people improve themselves in these seven
skill areas. In this process, how a group arrives at a decision
is just as important as the decision they make.
groups must be neighborhood based. Each one should incorporate
a range of issues and thinking or they will simply multiply
single issue politics. The process naturally empowers the
center of the citizenry and marginalizes and many times converts
the extreme elements. This process is conflict prevention,
not conflict resolution.
whole process mirrors and illustrates our Constitution so
that people can start to really understand it and their vital
role in it. The following principles apply: This is a republic,
not a democracy. They learn the skills and the difficulties
of being a representative. Power is shared. No one gets to
be the "group guru" because the leadership rotates.
There is an amendment process and a veto process. What the
groups do is decided by majority vote but they must be unanimous
in determining that the skills were properly used before the
votes count. Thus to be effective, to come to agreement, they
have to learn to use the citizenship skills properly and to
be mutually supportive.
hardest part of creating a functional society is working together
in relative harmony to agree on what it will look like and
do. That requires us all to overcome the problem of citizen
apathy and citizen anger. The problem of citizen apathy and
inaction is everyone's problem. This process solves this problem
by attacking its two root causes: One, it's too much work
for one person, and two, they don't know their role or how
to do it. The group process used here, and tested now for
four years in schools nationwide, parcels out the work so
that no one person is overworked. It also trains people to
develop the seven civility skills that allows them to learn
from each other and keeps meetings peaceful. Citizens quickly
learn that what their government is doing is not rocket science
and they can grasp the basics quite easily. There is an old
saying in Washington that "where you stand depends on
where you sit." Once citizens realize that they are responsible
for their government and its actions, they quickly see that
insuring domestic tranquility is essential to promoting the
general welfare, that respect for others is essential to maximizing
the common good as well as protecting individual rights.
idea here is not new. George Washington once wrote about the
use of small groups in a republic, " Chapters in every
community, committees to study and present in simple terms
the laws under consideration, including court decisions, examine
the candidacy and fitness of all aspirants for public office
to make sure they would advocate and protect the fundamental
principles of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Such
small groups can overcome party politics and special interests
and educate other voters, train youth for community service,
and public spirited representatives. ...The indolent attitude
of the citizens has brought us down to a moment in history
that only facing ourselves, the one thing Americans shun above
all else, will bring about any change for the better."
paraphrase, times don't change, people do. You the PEOPLE
seeks to help citizens, and through them their communities,
change for the better.
cause of America is
in great measure the
cause of mankind.
YOU THE PEOPLE HAS THE TOOLS OF DEMOCRACY
To redefine citizenship in the American culture.
have all the power we need. Here are the tools to use it and
use it wisely,
the PEOPLE needs to provide the common sense, the long term
view, and the balance in this country. That is your job. Most
people's priorities go something like this: God, Country,
Family,Job, Community, Clubs, etc. That means your duties
as a citizen should rank high, but to most people it is something
the will get to "next week". That is because they
have wrong idea of what citizenship is. It is much more than
voting now and then and picking up trash. We must redefine
citizenship to solve our governmental problems.This is our
government. When was the last time you checked on it? What
if you owned a McDonalds and you never checked on it? The
success of any venture depends on the boss checking on it
regularly. Why is our nation any different? The fact is that
everyone has a huge responsibility to humanity to make sure
this nation works. All the other previous experiments in popular
self-rule failed. The founders trusted you to make it work,
you will tell history whether they were right or wrong.Everyone
has a piece of the truth within them. Listen for it.
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