A week ago or so I wrote an article called Do we need Government? Thanks to John Neff who offered a comment, I realize now that it was a goofy question. We have a government, we are going to have a government, but reading Frances Moore Lappe's book "Getting a Grip" made me think: How can we use government more effectively?
We know that government is widely lambasted for wasting our money, wasting the lives of our children (e.g., war), and not being responsive to the people so much as to corporate interests. However, what if government just was in the bar setting business? We want to eliminate poverty in 10 years--go to it people. We want to provide housing for everybody--sure, figure it out.
Lappe describes that we are living in a "Thin Democracy" --we vote, we let the market do its thing--that's democracy. The democracy she describes alternately as a "Living Democracy" or a "Learning Democracy" has five qualities:
1) It is dynamic
2) It is guided by values rather than dogma
3) It is learned
4) It is power-creating not controlling
5) It is not limited to government.
In application, it is a community that says, for instance, we have a problem with our kids not graduating from our schools. And, instead of blaming the schools, looks at their the community, brings people together to problem-solve and propose solutions which the school board helps to implement.
Typically this type of governance takes time to organize, requires patience, and is ultimately messy, but the end result, is positive, real change.
So, do we want a government that "represents us" or one that is a "partner" with us?
And John, yes, kids can participate in this too (although, you're right, we might want to keep firearms away from the kiddos).