Jim Fenwood and I ran into Keith Allred when he taught us at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. During his lectures, Allred described “the Common Interest”, an organization he founded described here. Yes, he also ran for Governor of Idaho recently. What intrigued me the most about the project was not so much the advocacy, as the process for development of useful information to help citizens decide on a policy.
Fair and Accurate Issues Briefings and Representative Positions
When we brief an issue, we aim to provide the best factual evidence and fairest representation of the competing perspectives as we reasonably can. To help ensure the fairness and accuracy of our briefs, we interview those with expertise and important perspectives on the issue. We then provide draft briefs to those we interviewed to give them an opportunity to tell us if we’ve fairly captured their perspective. We keep improving the draft until there is a broad consensus among those involved with the issue that we have fairly and accurately represented the issue.
I invite you to take a look at the Common Interest website here.
George Washington warned in his Farewell Address that for the system the Founders deeded to us to realize its full promise, we would need to recognize and resist the typical ploys of faction.
One of the expedients of Party to acquire influence…is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other [parties]. You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heart burnings which spring from these misrepresentations. They tend to render Alien to each other those who ought to be bound together by fraternal affection.
More by Allred on the Founding Fathers here.
The recent comment by David Beebe on this blog here reminded me that this might be a productive approach on “our” issues to ensure that citizens get to hear quality information from both sides on complex topics. I wonder if we should start a 501c3 that uses a similar approach to Forest Service or public lands issues? This might be a helpful resource to both citizens and to journalists. What do you think?