What would you say ya do here?

– Bob Slydell, Office Space

The Space Party will be a U.S. Political party, but don’t think of it like the Democrats or the Republicans. They’re not doing a good job at electing and empowering leaders to advance society’s true interests, or fostering a healthy debate about real ideas for our future, or including the broader public in their decision-making processes. They rule by short-sighted consensus in closed spaces, and that’s working out terribly. So we don’t want to be the same–but what do we want to be like?

Let’s start with a few political realities, what I think they mean for our strategic outlook as a party, and for what we should being doing with our time and energy.

  • We’re probably not going to be a national majority party any in my lifetime or yours. (Though if this ends up being the first generation to regularly live to 200, we would certainly have a shot.) So we need to advance our goals through non-majority strategies.
  • Most of the country’s office-holders are elected in single-member districts, so we may have to look for non-electoral means, and for places around the country which employ multiple-winner election systems, or allow fusion voting.
  • There are places all around the country where science is being attacked, or undermined, or defunded, making the future just that much farther away. But we can identify and shed light on these situations, we can reach out to the scientists affected and attempt to help them get politics or industry or religion or superstition out of their way.
  • Every so often, political and social momentum tips forward, and often public policy lurches forward with it, helping bring the country into a new future. To convince powerful people that they no longer wish to be on the wrong side of history is hard; it often requires an entire political and cultural movement, so we should embrace science fiction shows and movies and other cultural fixtures, we should champion education, especially in STEM subjects, and sure, we should share GIFs with thoughtful quotes from cultural icons and science advocates. The cultural movement must grow for the political movement to grow in kind.

So first, we’re going to lay out a vision for the future–a vision not for ten-year plans but hundred-year plans. I love the 100 Year Starship project. “Let’s make human interstellar travel capabilities a reality within the next 100 years.” Let’s talk about things that big! Not just cutting down on hunger; let’s talk about making sustainable food production units for long-range starships, and then put them to work right here on earth where people are going hungry. Electric cars and batteries 1,000 times smaller and more powerful. All the world’s information available to any person at any age with expert teaching modules that respond to the individual’s learning needs–wouldn’t it be grand?

Simply by talking about a platform for the year 2113–arguing about what should go into it and arriving at some consensus and starting to fill out the plan–others will be drawn to our cause. Many Americans who love science and space and the idea of exploring the galaxy are currently apolitical by most standards: young people and technologists don’t seem to fit into the two-party system. Entrepreneurs may feel under-served by both parties, just like business people who don’t feel they need a government they can buy, just one that functions properly and fosters a healthy and productive American workforce. Teachers may feel like both parties are just getting it so utterly wrong, and neither of them is looking at the data for what really makes great schools.

Second, we must become known as defenders against attacks on science, enough that people find us and ask for our help when they are attacked. And we must defend them vigorously and effectively. Think the ACLU for science, the EFF for the final frontier. We must be their advocates, and applaud their accomplishments in public ways. To speak in very blunt political terms, we should seek to raise the public favorability rating for the International Space Station, boost name recognition for Stephen Hawking, and expand the media profile of Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Defenders loudly and in public; promoters and evangelists in calmer fashion, elevating others who do good work. 

Third, we’ll back specific initiatives, like the Penny For NASA campaign to increase public spending on NASA to 1% of the Federal budget. Fight legislative moves to restrict the auto market to choke off electronic car sales. Back a carbon tax. We’ll raise money, organize endorsers, call out deniers, run a press shop, send emails, call congress — It’ll be a bit like politics. These sorts of campaigns will be require another level of organizational commitment and stability, but should be a goal from the outset. We don’t need any preexisting infrastructure or established power to start supporting a carbon tax; we can just start doing it.

Fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh… have to do with winning elections in localities with the right sorts of election laws, and influencing elections elsewhere, donor organizing to mess with the existing major political parties and influence their behavior, multi-national campaigns, cross-partisan alliances, and a whole lot more. But those are questions for a party somewhat more mature than its second blog post. What we should do as the Space Party will be a topic of much discussion here. If you have ideas, and would be interested in helping us move that discussion along, please join the listserv, and let’s get to it!

Filed November 17th, 2013 under Uncategorized

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