--> --> i.e., think: apolitical/non-ideological (ANI) <-- <--

  Welcome to ThinkCIVIC
fyi: civic and ANI are used interchangeably on this page

* * * * CAUTION * * * *


inside-the-box thinkers:

outside-the-box thinkers:


Please note...

This page introduces a number of ANI-based terms and concepts into our nation's marketplace of new "political" ideas which will be explored in a part-(amateur)political science, part-civic advocacy book:

First, Re-Educate All The Political Scientists and Civics Teachers:
The case for a 21st century civics curriculum.
(est. pub., Summer/Fall 2016)

Some of the book's information is presented here in severely unedited form (i.e., unorganized, redundant, no logical progression from one passage to the next, etc.) for anyone who wishes to read about these new concepts immediately rather than have to wait until the book becomes available.


cover A

cover B


(part of a working) INTRODUCTION

First things first: what does "think: civic" (i.e., apolitical/non-ideological) mean?

Eventually, the American people will understand that it embodies a radically new way of thinking about how a free society -- if it is a civically enlightened society -- should "practice" democracy, i.e., engage in the process of self-governance.

To think civic is to recognize that America's voters can use the two votes they cast in the national legislative election process (NLEP) -- the first in the primary process, the second in the general election -- to accomplish far more than just decide which political party controls the U.S. House and/or Senate. That first vote in particular, if used effectively -- or, dare we say, competently -- can be far more than simply a right that one exercises, or a civic duty that responsible citizens are expected to perform come election day.

It can also be an extraordinarily useful and powerful tool -- some would even say a tool whose power is comparable to that of a magic civic wand. Because it's a tool that, if voters are willing to learn how to use it to their advantage, will enable them to achieve a surprisingly large number of apolitical, non-ideological objectives that, although our voters don't realize it (yet), all 140 million of them share. At the top of their ANI objective to-do list: a Congress filled with liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans who have the skill sets and motives of philosopher kings and queens (PKQs).

As to the precise definition of "think: civic," there isn't one yet because it is more of a national zeitgeist consisting of a number of separate but interrelated moving parts:

  • a new way of thinking about the "process" of self-governance;
  • a small dictionary of new civic-based terminology -- e.g., civic legislation, civic policies, civic justice, civic solutions, etc.
  • a whole new category of concepts -- e.g., dysfunctionalizing legislation, optimizing legislation, systems optimization (as in: optimized free market system, optimized healthcare system, optimized criminal justice system, etc.).

For now, the best way to explore this strange, new "ANI-based world" is with a novel thought experiment/narrative in which we can introduce, then make sense of, some of this long overdue and much needed zeitgeist's key features.

Imagine that our theoretical physicists discover the existence of a parallel universe. One with an America that's a mirror image of our nation in every way. Most notably, it has all of our economic, financial, fiscal and societal** (EFFS) problems -- aside: whose ills effects most of us are experiencing first hand in one way or another -- e.g., a weak, feeble economy; a severe shortage of good paying jobs; out-of-control federal spending; a plethora of broken -- or dysfunctionalized -- systems: healthcare system, free market system, criminal justice system, mental health system, public education system, federal tax system/code, etc..


** examples of societal problems

  • multi-generational government dependency
  • chronic poverty
  • long term unemployment
  • RAPIDLY shrinking Middle Class
  • growing (& increasingly uneducated) underclass
  • high rates of teen pregnancy, out-of-wedlock births, and single parent/fatherless households
  • widespread gang activity/violence
  • racial strife/friction
  • political strife/friction

BRIEF DIGRESSION RE: AN ADVANCED DEMOCRACY'S SYSTEMS: In the same way that it is the responsibility of our nation's doctors to insure that the medical treatments they use to cure (or prevent) diseases and infections of the human body's major systems -- e.g., respiratory, muscular, skeletal, nervous, circulatory, etc. -- actually work (and, fyi, if they don't, it is the responsibility of the doctors to stop using the ineffective treatment and try another approach), in terms of the responsibility* of insuring that our nation's major systems operate at their healthiest, strongest, most effective, etc., our voters (i.e., you) should begin thinking of themselves as the doctors, rather than the politicians they elect to Congress.

* in a democracy, the buck stops with the voters

In other words, it is well past time for our voters, especially the most intelligent, educated, experienced (i.e., wisest), etc. to turn on the critical thinking skills portion of their brain when it comes to this thing we call self-governance -- because, if we don't, we will continue to be extremely incompetent practitioners of self-governance (think: civic malpractice).

Why am I claiming that our voters aren't thinking very rationally? Consider the fact that America's major system are in deplorable condition -- which, fyi, is why our nation is drowning in EFFS problems in the first place (think of our EFFS problems not as individual problems, per se, but as symptoms of our dysfunctionalized systems. Furthermore, rather than blame an ideology -- liberalism or conservatism -- for all of our systems being dysfunctionalized, blame the accumulation of decades, generations, even centuries of self-serving legislation passed by a particular type of national legislator (hint: self-serving, politically ambitious politician [SSPAP/SSPAP])).

Given that set of facts, the logical/rational thought process of (again) minimally, our most intelligent, educated, etc. voters should be:

the type of liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans we've been fielding in the primary process (for decades, generations, etc.) are, if elected to Congress in the general election, utterly incapable of working together to "optimize" America's major systems. Therefore, it is our responsibility as voters to stop fielding that particular type of candidates -- by "trying another approach."

aside: the take away from this digression is that, before voters can arrive at that conclusion, they must both be aware of, and have a solid understanding of the meaning of, terms like ANI-based legislation vs. dysfunctionalizing legislation, ANI-based policies, system optimization agenda, SSPAPs, PKQs, etc..

PARALLEL AMERICA NARRATIVE (con't.) By sheer luck, the voters in this parallel USA are able to conjure up a magic "civic" genie who agrees to grant them two civic wishes. For their first wish, the voters (displaying a level of wisdom one wouldn't think American voters from any universe were capable of possessing) ask the genie to replace their Congress's two chambers with just one legislative body -- and in that one chamber just two legislative seats: one reserved for a passionately liberal philosopher king or queen, the other for a passionately conservative philosopher king/queen.

For their second wish, the voters ask the genie to come up with an easy method which will insure that:

  • the liberal candidate that the democratic and left of center voters elect to Congress (every election cycle in the Democratic combination primary/general election) has both the skill sets and motives of a philosopher king/queen (PKQ), and
  • the conservative candidate that the republican and right of center voters elect to Congress has the skill sets and motives of a PKQ.

As you can see, we now have two Americas with which we can compare and contrast two different Congresses that are as ethically and qualitatively distinct as it is possible to be. They do share one key similarity: both governing bodies are controlled by two political/ideological (PI) factions. But in one, the members of both factions are, with exceedingly rare exception, self-serving, politically ambitious politicians (SSPAPs). While in the other Congress, neither of its faction's members have a self-serving, or politically ambitious, or power hungry bone in their body.

food for thought: all of us know how much EFFS damage a SSPAP controlled Congress is capable of inflicting us, no matter which PI faction is in control, because that's been our America for the last 60+ years.

But for some inexplicable reason, our society doesn't have the slightest idea of how much EFFS damage can be undone** by a PKQ controlled Congress, no matter which PI faction is in control -- because it has never occurred to our political philosophers, scientists, thinkers, etc. (or our civics teachers, for that matter) to explore that question.

**hint: a PKQ controlled Congress can undo essentially all of the EFFS damage (via one of two ANI-based legislation formulation processes: system optimization or system de-dysfunctionalization).

It's worth observing at this point that we have already touched on enough new ideas to justify anyone in or outside academia -- who has even the slightest amount of: 1) intellectual curiosity or 2) philanthropic motivation -- exploring these new ideas and possibilities formally, preferably by creating a new subfield in political science:

comparative self-governance: the study of two competing models of self-governance and the theories on which they are based:

  1. The Political/Ideological (PI) Model/Theory, which, fyi, is the "ignorance-based" model that America's voters have been using essentially since our nation's founding.

    Q: why is the PI Model ignorance-based?
    A: it has produced a U.S. Congress permanently filled with two factions of SSPAPs caught up in a 24/7/365, all's fair in love and political war struggle for political power -- a great deal of which is purely for power's sake.

  2. The Apolitical/Non-Ideological (ANI) Model/Theory, which is the "knowledge-based" model they should start using, asap.

A brief overview of the two models:

I. The PI Model

  • Voters use the national legislative election process (NLEP) largely to achieve one objective: decide which party controls Congress. Voters pursue that political/ideological objective because they believe that the legislative policies and "solutions" advocated by one party's SSPAPs will have a better chance of "solving" some of America's EFFS problems than the policies and solutions advocated by the other party's SSPAPs.
  • A relatively small percentage of voters vote in the Democratic and Republican primary process, and both groups use the primary process much like the professional football league uses the draft process: to field the "best" ideological warriors -- who will then go head-to-head in the Super bowl event: the general election.
  • A substantial percentage of our intelligentsia, academia, media, think tanks, etc, -- as well as our voters:
    • treat one political party as the "good" party, and the other, the "bad" party,
    • either treat liberalism as the superior (in terms of its effectiveness) ideology/governing philosophy, and conservatism as the flawed ideology/governing philosophy, or vice-versa.

II. The ANI Model

  • Voters use the national legislative election process (NLEP) to achieve two objectives:
    • in the primary process: field [liberal, conservative] candidates with the skill sets and motives of PKQs.
      • IMPORTANT NOTE: this "civic" objective will be surprisingly easy to accomplish once a critical mass of our society understands: 1) what a PKQ candidate is, 2) what a PKQ controlled Congress will be capable of accomplishing, and 3) how quickly that PKQ controlled Congress will be able to accomplish their ANI-based agenda.
    • in the general election: decide which party controls Congress (based largely on which party's policies on non-EFFS-related issues a majority of voters favor -- e.g., cultural issues (abortion, gay marriage, etc.), foreign policy, global warming, etc..
  • A larger percentage of voters vote in the Democratic and Republican primary process than the general election because society understands that if the two candidates who face each other in the general election are PKQ candidates, it will not matter which candidate gets elected in terms of their ability to pass ANI-based, "optimizing" legislation.
  • A substantial percentage of our intelligentsia, academia, media, think tanks, etc, -- as well as our voters -- understand that both liberal and conservative policies are like bacteria: some are necessary for a society's many integrated systems to operate at their maximum health and effectiveness, while others will do more harm than good.
    • the key/determinate factor of a given piece of legislation's harm vs. benefit: whether the legislation was crafted by a Congress controlled by two or more factions of SSPAPs, or by two or more factions of PKQs.


FYI: When we resume this thought experiment/narrative after the July 4th holiday, we will look at how the parallel America's PKQ controlled Congress is able to solve its nation's EFFS problems -- many of them completely and permanently.

to be continued ....




Competent self-governance is an ANI-based concept

competent self-governance (CSG): the ability of a free society's voters to keep their national legislature continuously filled with a steady supply of legislators who, regardless of their party affiliation or governing philosophy, possess both the skill sets and motives of philosopher kings and queens.

fyi: CSG is an example of an easy to teach, easy to learn civic skill.

* * * * * * * * * * *


“If you want something you have never had,
you must be willing to do something you have never done.”

Thomas Jefferson

Corollary #1 to Jefferson's quote
(applicable to America's political science and civics instructors)

If you want the "civics" you teach your students to produce a nation of voters who are competent in both the science, and practice, of self-governance, particularly in the national legislative election process (NLEP), you must be willing to begin using a civics curriculum you have never used to teach civic ideas, insights and strategies you have never taught.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Corollary #2 to Jefferson's quote
(applicable to America's ~140 million
liberal, moderate, conservative and libertarian voters)

If [you,you,you,you] want something you've never had:

a Congress permanently filled with liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans who have the skill sets and motives of philosopher kings and queens (PKQs)...

[you,you,you,you] must be willing to do something -- in the Democratic and Republican primaries -- you have never done.


3 Twitter sites, 1 objective:
"civically" competent electorate.






Here are some of America's systems in dire need of optimization:

  • tax system
  • free market system
  • financial system
  • healthcare system
  • criminal justice system
  • mental health system
  • welfare system
  • immigration system
  • etc..

The Political/Ideological Myth Explained in a Nutshell

CHILD: Mommy, where do America's economic, financial, fiscal and societal problems come from?

LIBERAL PARENT: They come from generations of conservative legislation passed by heartless Republicans in Congress.

CONSERVATIVE PARENT: They come from generations of liberal legislation passed by brainless Democrats in Congress.

Clearly, these parents' explanations are oversimplified, but they sum up the belief among probably 70+% of our society's voters that one of our major political parties is, for the most part, the "good" political party -- and its governing philosophy the "good" political ideology (PI) -- while the other party is the "bad" party/PI.

In order to understand why this centuries old PI Myth is just that: a myth, we have to explain where our EFFS problems actually come from. And to do that, we have to create and define a new category of ANI-based legislation -- as well as a new category of legislator:

dysfunctionalizing legislation: legislation that eventually creates more problems than it solves, or exacerbates existing problems, because the legislation contains one or more provisions, or is written in its entirety, to advance the self-serving interests of the legislators writing the legislation.

Dysfunctionalizing legislation is legislation that, either whole or in part:

  • appeases, rewards, or "addicts" to government largesse, a legislator's favored special interest, vested interest or political interest group(s).
  • punishes one or more of the other political party's clique of special, vested or political interest groups.
  • increases the legislator's political power, or strengthens their grip on power.
  • increases the legislator's chances of re-election.
  • increases the legislator's (currently out of power) party's chances of becoming the majority party in the next election cycle; OR
  • increases the likelihood that the legislator's (currently in power) party remains the majority party.

Self-Serving, Politically Ambitious Politician (SSPAP): In general, anyone who already has a career in politics, or wants to make a career in politics -- but the term is especially applicable to anyone who wants to make a career in the U.S. Congress so badly he or she will say almost anything to get elected -- and, once elected, say and do almost anything to get repeatedly re-elected.

Now that we know what dysfunctionalizing legislation is -- and what a SSPAP is -- we no longer have to tell our children PI myths to explain where EFFS problems come from.

CHILD: Mommy, where do America's economic, financial, fiscal and societal problems come from?

PARENT/PARENT: They come from generations of dysfunctionalizing legislation passed by SSPAPs in Congress.

* * * * * * * * * * *

We also need a term to describe the opposite of dysfunctionalizing legislation: optimizing legislation.

optimizing legislation: legislation that contains no self-serving provisions, and whose primary objective is not to solve an individual EFFS problem, per se, but to "optimize" one or more of our nation's, in most cases, severely dysfunctionalized systems**, for example:

    • tax system
    • free market system
    • financial system
    • healthcare system
    • criminal justice system
    • mental health system
    • welfare system
    • immigration system
    • etc..

      ** pursuing a new legislative agenda, system optimization should be Congress's primary objective because America's EFFS problems are most appropriately seen as symptoms of one or more of the above dysfunctionalized systems. Which means, optimize the systems and all of the symptoms (i.e., all of the EFFS problems) disappear -- in many cases, completely and permanently.

FYI: Optimizing legislation can only be crafted and passed by a specific type of legislator:

Philosopher King/Queen legislator (PKQL): someone with the skill sets of a philosopher king or queen, but: 1) is not and has never been in politics, and 2) is willing to run for Congress and, if elected, serve for a few years as a one-time civic duty.



The prevailing "theory" of why democracies fail is wrong

The conventional wisdom on the matter of democracies failing is best summed up in a quote which has been attributed to a Scottish history professor, Alexander Tyler, in 1787 (fyi: this passage is from “An American Tragedy” dated 12/16/08 by James Quinn):

"A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship."

“The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

  • From bondage to spiritual faith;
  • From spiritual faith to great courage;
  • From courage to liberty;
  • From liberty to abundance;
  • From abundance to complacency;
  • From complacency to apathy;
  • From apathy to dependence;
  • From dependence back into bondage"


Why is Tyler's analysis considered conventional wisdom, particularly among our intelligentsia? Because the shortcomings of a democracy's voters -- e.g., largely uninformed on the issues, apathetic, naive, gullible, and the most damaging flaw: greed, i.e., wanting more government benefits and services than they are willing to pay for -- are assumed to be what spells eventual doom to a democracy.

Nothing could be further from the truth, however -- in America's case especially. The much better explanation: as the harmful effects of decades/generations of dysfunctionalizing legislation begin to take their toll on America's major systems, America's voters look to society's best and brightest thinkers and opinion makers for election insights, guidance, etc..

Unfortunately, looking to that group has been -- and still is -- a bad idea because, especially since the time of FDR's New Deal, America's best and brightest political philosophers, thinkers, etc. have been caught up in an (intellectual?) political/ideological pissing contest:

"My governing philosophy** is better than yours at solving America's EFFS problems."

** liberalism/government solutions or conservatism/free market solutions

As a result of the growing number and severity of those problems over recent decades especially -- combined with, on one hand, a plethora of liberal leaning "experts" from elite universities insisting that the Democratic Party's policies are the cure, while the Republican Party's policies are the disease, and on the other hand, a plethora of "experts" from elite universities insisting that the Republican Party's policies are the cure, while the Democratic Party's policies are the disease -- the voters have understandably been utterly incapable of intelligently deciding which party's SSPAPs will be able to actually solve our nation's problems.

What have our intelligentsia been failing to recognize?

  1. If Congress is controlled by two or more factions of SSPAPs, in the long term it does not matter which party controls Congress in any given election cycle because the legislation the majority party passes will not sufficiently or meaningfully deal with the "real" problems.
  2. If Congress is controlled by two or more factions of PKQs, in the long term it does not matter which party controls Congress in any given election cycle because the legislation the majority party passes (to deal with a EFFS problem) will be strongly supported by the minority party's PKQs -- as well as large majorities of Americas liberal, moderate, conservative and libertarian voters. Why? Because the legislation will have been crafted via a largely technical, ANI-based process.

* * * * * * * * * * *


NOTE: you will encounter a variation of this line of argument when you get to version 2 of the introduction below.



Re: The PI Theory

Why do most of our best and brightest political thinkers fall into one of our two major political/ideological (PI) camps and either: 1) point the finger of blame for our nation's EFFS ills at the "other" PI camp's policies, legislation, values, etc., or 2) insist that our EFFS problems can only be solved via their PI camp's policies, legislation, etc. -- or both?

Rather than point to the real culprit:
political ambition + desire for re-election and/or greater power = dysfunctionalizing legislation

As has just been alluded to, for the same reason that, for 2,500 years, our best and brightest medical doctors blamed things like poor health and our susceptibility to diseases and infections on imbalances in our body's four major fluids. (Rather than the real culprit: microscopic pathogens -- i.e., germs, viruses, bacteria, etc. -- which doctors didn't know existed because they couldn't see them until the microscope had been invented, then perfected).

In other words, our intelligentsia has a massive civic -- i.e., apolitical/non-ideological(ANI) -- blind spot because they are unaware of the ANI-based terms and concepts that would enable them to "see," for example, this new category of legislation.

Because of that gaping blind spot, election cycle after election cycle, essentially 100% of the time that our society's politically engaged citizens spend "debating" the issues is spent arguing back and forth over which party's policies: 1) are most to blame for our EFFS problems, and 2) will be able to solve our EFFS problems -- while 0% is spent discussing in comprehensive and precise detail what kind of liberal and conservative candidates, if elected to Congress, will be able to craft and pass optimizing legislation?


Re: PI Math vs. ANI Math

PI Math:

For left of center voters, especially die hard liberals, the decision-making math is:

Democratic controlled Congress + liberal policies/solutions = SOME EFFS problems MIGHT get "solved"

Republican controlled Congress + conservative policies/solutions = ZERO chance EFFS problems get solved

For right of center voters, especially die hard conservatives, the decision-making math is:

Republican controlled Congress + conservative policies/solutions = SOME EFFS problems MIGHT get "solved"

Democratic controlled Congress + liberal policies/solutions = ZERO chance EFFS problems get solved

ANI Math:

For nearly all 140 million voters, the decision-making math is:

a SSPAP/SSPAP controlled Congress + DYSFUNCTIONALIZING legislation = ZERO EFFS problems get solved

a PKQ/PKQ controlled Congress + OPTIMIZING legislation = a near-EFFS problem-free America




Introduction (version 2)

For several decades, not only the best minds in America's plethora of good government organizations, but the best minds among our most concerned citizens in academia, media, business, philanthropy, entertainment and elsewhere have operated under the assumption that there is only one way to "fix" our nation's broken political system (i.e., Congress):

"Here's what we know.

FACT 1: Congress can't solve any of America's economic, financial, fiscal or societal (EFFS) problems -- and, many would argue, is actually responsible for creating almost all of them in the first place -- because Congress is broken.

FACT 2: Ultimately, Congress is broken for just one reason: for generations, both political parties have been dominated and controlled by self-serving politicians caught up in a neverending, all-consuming, all's-fair-in-love-and-political-war struggle for political power -- a great deal of which is solely for power's sake.
FACT 3: self-serving politicians care far more about their political career than they care about doing what's in the best interests of their nation.
Given these three facts, our intellectual challenge is figuring out how to cajole a national legislature teeming with self-serving, politically ambitious politicians to impose ethics and campaign finance reforms on themselves that will cause them to start thinking, acting and legislating more like non-self-serving, non-politically ambitious, non-power hungry, non-politicians?



Non-self-serving, non-politically ambitious, non-power...!! Hey, those are all the key traits of a philosopher king!!


Wouldn't it be a heck of a lot easier
if our political science and civics teachers simply started teaching everyone how to elect philosopher kings and queens to Congress?

The second minion may not know it, but his straightforward, commonsensical observation pulls back the curtain on what should be democracy's most vexing mystery of the modern era: why has it never occurred to our political science and civics teachers to simply start teaching our society's students (and voters) how to use their power at the ballot box -- primarily in the national legislative election process (NLEP) -- effectively (or competently)?

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something,
build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

Buckminster Fuller

Question #2: once that thought has occurred, how long will it take before a critical mass of our society's political science and civics instructors begin discussing this new, 21st century concept with their students, fellow academicians, national media, political activists, in op-eds, etc.?

In due time we will know the answer to both of these questions because this is one genie that can't be put back in the bottle.

"Necessity is the mother of invention"

corollary: civic necessity is the mother of civic invention

Spoiler alert: once the idea of a PKQ-controlled Congress, which is to say, a Congress in which the legislative agenda is controlled by liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans who possess the governing characteristics and motives of PKQs is out of the "new idea" bottle, for lovers of new knowledge it will be like landing on the shores of a vast and unexplored continent. One teeming with:

          • radically new ideas,
          • radically new ways of thinking about the causes, and cures, for some of our oldest
            and (seemingly) most intractable economic, financial, fiscal and societal (EFFS) problems,
          • radically new legislative solutions and agendas,
          • etc..




re: competent vs. incompetent self-governance

Competent Self-Governance:

When a nation's voters practice democracy competently, the end result is the most desirable national legislature possible: one dominated by liberal and conservative legislators who don't have a politically ambitious or power hungry bone in their body.

This, in turn, results in a federal government with the most desirable traits possible:


accountable... honest... ethical... responsible... dependable... effective... efficient...

A nation governed by such a legislature will have the fewest economic, financial, fiscal and societal* (EFFS) problems possible.

Therefore, seen from a self-governance perspective, the germane cause-effect association is:

competent voters = a nation free of major EFFS problems.

Incompetent Self-Governance:

When a nation's voters practice democracy incompetently, the end result is the least desirable national legislature: one dominated by both liberal and conservative legislators who are, with exceedingly rare exception: pandering, self-serving, politically ambitious politicians.

This, in turn, results in a federal government with the least desirable traits possible:


unaccountable... corrupt... self-serving... irresponsible... undependable... ineffective... inefficient...

A nation governed by such a legislature will end up perpetually plagued by a long list of major EFFS problems.

Therefore, again, viewed in self-governance terms, the germane cause-effect association is:

incompetent voters = a nation plagued by major EFFS problems.




The subfield that should have been

Political thinkers have been analyzing, describing and comparing different forms of government, including different types of democracies, since the time of Aristotle. But Comparative Politics as an "official" subfield of the discipline only goes back about 80 years.

comparative politics: the comparative analysis of political institutions and processes.
(journal of comparative politics)

For a host of reasons well worth exploring at another time, it did not occur to our political scientists to create a companion subfield, Comparative Self-Governance, when they created Comparative Politics.

comparative self-governance: the comparative analysis of models and theories of self-governance, principally:
  • Political/Ideological (PI) Model/Theory--> the model our voters use
  • Apolitical/Non-Ideological (ANI) Model/Theory --> the model they should use

In my view, future historians will judge this to be the most costly intellectual oversight in the history of political science.

Why? Because, had our political scientists undertaken the study of comparative self-governance, it would have quickly become obvious to them that the model of self-governance they, along with America's civics teachers, had been, in effect, teaching their students (and our voters) to use: the PI Model -- particularly and especially to elect Congress's 535 members -- was vastly inferior to the ANI Model inasmuch as America's myriad of major economic, financial, fiscal and societal (EFFS) problems could be traced back to our voters using the former model rather than the latter to "practice" democracy.

Not some of our EFFS problems, mind you, but all of them.

In fact, a compelling case can be made that, had America's voters started using the ANI Model to elect their U.S. House and Senate members -- as recently as, say, the 1970's -- America in 2015 would be the closest thing to a Utopia it is possible for any nation to be (given our species' many innate flaws).

Just how close?

For starters, as already mentioned: our nation would not have one EFFS problem large or severe enough to constitute a national issue for voters.

That means no hollowed-out middle class problem; no chronic unemployment problem; no extreme income inequality problem; no 2% growth rate is the new normal problem; no unsustainable entitlement spending problem; no massive budget deficits as far as the eye can see problem; no crushing national debt problem; no crumbling infrastructure problem.

And perhaps the most eye opening of all: no intractable "inner city" problem -- i.e.:

no cradle to grave poverty... no cradle to grave government dependence... no rampant violence...
no 80% out-of-wedlock birthrate... no public schools stymied by unsocialized and/or "uneducable" children... no "Black Lives Matter" conflict... and on and on.

That's why, once our academicians and intelligentsia begin debating the merits of creating and formally teaching Comparative Self-Governance -- not just future historians, but our current historians, will readily agree that this 80 year oversight by our best and brightest political thinkers was, by any measure you use, one of political science's costliest.




A special note to:

  • young political scientists just starting out in academia and elsewhere;
  • political science majors, current and future;
  • civics teachers, current and future.

The ANI Model of Self-Governance, and the theory it is based on, represent an entirely new category of "political" knowledge, and a radically different way of thinking about the process of self-governance.

As will soon be abundantly clear, this new way of thinking runs counter to our nation's prevailing political/ideological (PI) orthodoxy -- and, as most of us know, knowledge that undermines long standing orthodoxies tends to be rejected by the "establishment" (i.e., anyone with a vested or economic interest in perpetuating the status quo) -- even orthodoxies founded on ignorance-based theories.

Assuming history is a guide, this means that the initial reaction of today's established political scientists -- along with professional political analysts and consultants in media and elsewhere -- will be to reject this new theory's tenets, validity, relevance, feasibility, etc..

That doesn't mean you have to. After all, the ANI model isn't just about a new theory of self-governance. It's about vastly improving the quality of life of an entire nation's people.

That prospect should be of especial interest to those of you who are members of America's youngest generations, since, of all our nation's demographic groups, it will be yours who will face the most difficult and uncertain of futures if America's political/ideological status quo remains unchanged.





A brief primer on the
Apolitical/Non-Ideological Model of Self-Governance
and the theory on which it is based

Two important FYIs re. dysfunctionalizing legislation:

    1. Over time (decades/generations/centuries) the accumulation of dysfunctionalizing legislation leads to the dysfunctionalization of a democratic society's major systems:
          • Free Market system
          • Federal Tax system/code
          • Financial system
          • Healthcare system
          • Public Education system
          • Welfare system
          • Criminal Justice system
          • Mental Health system
          • Immigration system
          • etc.
    2. As a general proposition, 1) a democracy's major economic, financial, fiscal and societal* (EFFS) problems should be seen as symptoms of that democracy's dysfunctionalized systems rather than the fault of a governing philosophy -- e.g., liberalism or conservatism -- and 2) the greater a system's dysfunctionalization the more numerous and severe the EFFS problems associated with it.

    * notable societal problems:

    • multi-generational government dependency
    • chronic poverty
    • long term unemployment
    • permanent underclass
    • high rates of teen pregnancy, out-of-wedlock births, single parent/fatherless households
    • widespread gang activity/violence
    • racial strife/friction
    • extremist political/ideological (PI) rhetoric


  nexus between America's dysfunctionalized systems
and the severity of America's EFFS problems

x-axis: degree of dysfunctionalization/optimization of America's systems
y-axis: severity of America's EFFS problems

The more optimized our systems, the less severe our EFFS problems




FYI: Our current tax code is the text book example of what the accumulation of decades -- and, in many cases, generations -- of dysfunctionalizing legislation produces.


At 72,000+ pages and growing, USA Today called it a "monstrosity of complexity" when it was only a 54,000 page monstrosity.

  • It's sheer size and complexity suppresses economic growth.
  • It benefits the politically well connected.
  • It gives Big Business an unfair advantage over small and mid-sized companies.

Because it taxes production, it has played a major role in devastating America's low- and mid-skill manufacturing sectors.

  • It is the means through which politically ambitious politicians (PAPs) wield their political power and peddle their influence.
  • It is how PAPs exert control over every business and individual in America.
  • It is where PAPs hide special favors for their political, corporate and special interest cronies.
  • It is why special interest groups and BIG Business treat PAPs like royalty rather than the people's servants.

Our tax code is a major reason Washington is known internationally as a cesspool of political sleaze, greed and dishonesty.

  • It destroys integrity and political courage.
  • It has turned our PAPs in Congress into high priced prostitutes.
  • It is why our nation's Capitol is infested with powerful corporate lobbyists.
  • It helps keep the super wealthy... super wealthy???

    aside: given the size of our tax code, you can imagine what 170,000+ pages of dysfunctionalizing federal regulations look like.

This is what 72,000 pages looks like


optimizing legislation: legislation that: 1) contains no self-serving provisions, and 2) whose focus is optimizing one or more of a nation's systems.

FYI: Here is what an optimized (and optimizing) tax code would look like.


If we define an "optimized" tax code as a tax code that creates the optimum conditions for producing the greatest possible amount of : 1) sustained, muscular economic growth, and 2) new job creation -- particularly good paying high-, mid-, and low-skill manufacturing jobs -- then an optimized tax code is an example of:

a. a government solution
b. a free market solution
c. a political/ideological (PI) solution (i.e., liberal, conservative)
d. an apolitical/non-ideological (ANI) solution

answer: d

  fyi: the same answer applies to an:
- optimized free market system
- optimized healthcare system
- optimized public education system
  . . . . .

aside: an obvious question comes to mind: do we have the knowledge needed to optimize all of America's major systems?

Short answer: yes (with some qualifications that will be discussed later on).

Our species has amassed an astounding amount of technical, economic, financial and other data based knowledge (especially over the last several decades). This same accumulation of knowledge that makes it possible for our best and brightest to optimize such things as:

  • a car engine's operating efficiency
  • the performance of a laptop
  • the diet and training routines of an Olympic athlete
  • a golf swing
  • a delivery truck's delivery route
  • a company's supply chain
  • an organization's daily operations
  • etc.

...makes it possible for us to optimize our healthcare, public education, etc. systems -- even our free market system.

Clearly, some systems may have a lot more moving parts, but the underlying technical, economic, etc. principles are the same.




"Power is such a dangerous thing that ideally it should be wielded by people who don't want to use power, who would rather be doing something else, but who are willing to serve a certain number of years as a one-time duty...."
Thomas Sowell


PAC/PAP: politically ambitious candidate/politically ambitious politician.

practice democracy: to engage in the process of self-governance.

practicing democracy competently: in America's case, America's voters keeping Congress filled with a steady supply of "civic"-minded legislators (CMLs) -- i.e., liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans who:

have a high purity of motive (POM) rating -- meaning they don't have a politically ambitious or power hungry bone in their body -- and

serve in Congress, but only for a few years as a one-time civic duty.



The ideal Civic-Minded Candidate / Legislator (CMC/CML)


For obvious reasons the ideal legislator must have a high POM rating. For equally obvious reasons he or she must have a high CTG (capacity to govern) rating as well.

Meaning he or she must:

    1. be exceptionally intelligent, well educated and knowledgeable,
    2. be old enough to have accumulated:
      • a considerable amount of meaningful life experience (because that's where qualities like wisdom and sound judgment come from), and
      • a respectable level of economic/financial success in life,
    3. possess demonstrated leadership/decision making qualities.

fyi: millions of Americans possess both high POM and CTG ratings.

Given these criteria, we can expect to see a high percentage of legislator candidates coming from the ranks of:

    • doctors,
    • engineers,
    • mid to upper level business executives,
    • retired military officers,
    • etc..


IMPORTANT FYI: there will be a great deal of debate among our intelligentsia (and voters) over the wisdom of electing lawyers to Congress because of that profession's inherent conflict of interest -- i.e.,

  • more laws = more work for lawyers;
  • fewer laws = less work for lawyers;
  • simple, straightforward, commonsense laws = fewer lawsuits = less need for lawyers;
  • complex, convoluted laws = more lawsuits = greater need for lawyers.


Principle of Systems Optimization:

Every system over which the federal government has statutory or regulatory authority is optimizable via ANI-based legislation (i.e., technical, data-driven legislation) which will produce economic, financial, fiscal and societal (EFFS) outcomes that large majorities of every PI and demographic group will deem highly desirable.

Only a national legislature controlled by CMLs has the collective purity of motive (POM) needed to enact optimizing legislation.

Shared ANI objectives: objectives achieved via optimizing legislation that the vast majority of America's 140 million voters would like to see Congress accomplish.

For example, an OPTIMIZED:

  • Free Market system
  • Federal Tax system/code
  • Financial system
  • Healthcare system
  • Public Education system
  • Welfare system
  • Criminal Justice system
  • Mental Health system
  • Immigration system
  • etc.


One way to explain why the PI Model is ignorance-based while the ANI Model is knowledge-based:

If our nation's doctors wanted to cure diseases and infections, which model of medicine would they use to practice medicine: the Four Humours Model, which is based on an ignorance-based theory, or the Germ Model, which is based on a knowledge-based theory?

If our nation's voters wanted to see Congress's liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans pass the type of legislation that would "solve" America's EFFS problems -- in many cases, completely and permanently -- which model of self-governance would our voters use to practice democracy: the PI Model or the ANI Model?



Introducing the Holy Grail of Self-Governance
into America's marketplace of new ideas...

If our instructors in America's medical colleges could teach their medical students how to cure, say, cancer of every form -- or a major killer like heart disease -- you can rest assured that they would, and they would do it in a heartbeat (no pun intended).

Unfortunately they can't because that knowledge does not yet exist. But it's probably just a matter of time considering: 1) the amount of knowledge that has been amassed in the medical field in recent years alone, and 2) the countless thousands of medical researchers in America and around the world who are hard at work finding cures at this very moment.

Likewise, if today's rocket scientists suddenly discovered how to build a spaceship that could get us to Mars and back in, say, a few days, they would be hard at work teaching their students in our colleges and universities that new knowledge.

Similar examples in other scientific fields abound -- all of which suggests is that if our nation's political scientists suddenly came upon an easy to understand, simple to use method or process which would enable our nation's voters to start practicing democracy competently -- then we have to believe that, minimally, a critical mass of our political scientists would be more than eager to start teaching our nation's students and voters how to master this thing we call self-governance.



A helpful thought experiment:

The ability of America's voters/voters/voters to:

  1. broadly agree on what constitutes an optimized system, and
  2. strongly agree that the optimized systems they agree on are manifestly better -- and, therefore, infinitely more desirable -- than the dysfunctionalized counterparts currently in place...

...depends on their ability to reach broad agreement on apolitical, non-ideological (ANI) design objectives for such things as an optimized tax code, optimized public education system, etc.

So let's use a thought experiment to get a sense of how liberal, moderate, conservative, and even libertarian voters would arrive at the ANI design objectives, for example, for an optimized tax code:

Assume that several groups of randomly selected Americans have been assembled in separate rooms and assigned the task of coming up with the design objectives for a tax code that will:

  1. Optimize our nation's free market engine -- i.e., create the optimum conditions for:
    • sustained, muscular economic growth
    • new job creation, particularly good paying high-, mid- and low-skill manufacturing jobs.
  2. Generate maximum government revenue at any given tax load on GDP (18%, 19%, 20%,...).

One room consists of retired seniors, another of college students, another of America's working poor, another of chronically unemployed inner city residents, another of small business owners, another from the top 1% of income earners.

While it's likely that, both within and between these diverse groups, there will be a wide range of opinion on the federal government's proper role in areas like public education, healthcare, entitlement programs, etc. -- it's also likely that a substantial majority in every group will agree that it is in every group's interest for:

  • America's economy to be the strongest and healthiest it can possibly be;
  • jobs to be plentiful;
  • the federal government to be bringing in enough revenue to keep its currency sound and meet its legal obligations.

Given those three overarching design objectives, the ideal, or optimum, tax code will have to include, minimally, the following part-data driven, part-common sense design objectives:

  • It will impose the least possible drag on our economy, especially the manufacturing sector.
  • More generally, it will impose the least possible cost on people who earn their income by growing America's economic pie -- i.e., creating real wealth (e.g., manufacturing products, providing goods and services, etc.).
  • It will impose the least possible cost on people who save/invest the money they earn.
  • It will impose the least possible cost on people who want to start their own business and/or hire someone to work in their business.
  • It will impose the maximum possible cost on capitalism’s parasites, leeches, vultures, etc.:

    • e.g., hefty transaction fees levied on legal but "parasitic" activities (e.g., high frequency trading, trading exotic financial instruments, etc.).

  • It will impose an appropriate and proportional cost on those in society who:
    • consume/use unhealthy products which society has to bear health/medical and/or other costs,
    • engage in unsafe behaviors/activities, both legal and illegal, which society has to bear health/medical and/or other costs.
  • It will be simple enough to be:
    • easily understood by everyone,
    • easy to comply with,
    • easy to enforce -- consistently, with no exceptions!
    • IMPOSSIBLE to be used to "sneak in under the radar" tax exemptions which will give unfair advantage to corporate interests, special interest groups, etc..
  • Fairness will dictate that:
    • it can NEVER be used for social engineering purposes -- liberal or conservative
      • if society wishes its legislators to use the legislative process to accomplish a "social good," it can be done via stand alone legislation.
    • all forms of income must be treated the same.
  • Compassion will dictate that it will impose a negligible cost on our society's least able and least capable.
  • Common sense and experience dictate that no element of the code will be so onerous as to invite such reactions as cheating, avoidance, the creation of a black market industry, etc..

Once these broad ANI design objectives have been agreed on, the optimized tax code will practically write itself.

For example, given the above objectives -- again, all likely deemed desirable by a broad cross section of society -- an optimized tax code will almost certainly be able to fit on one page (if not a 4 x 6 card), and will replace our plethora of taxes (individual and business) with:

  • a modest, largely flat income tax on incomes above a certain amount ($20,000, $25,000, $30,000, etc.),
  • a modest national sales tax and/or VAT,
  • taxes/fees on products and activities for which society has to bear health, medical or other costs.
  • a moderately steep progressive consumption tax levied primarily on high income earners:

gross income minus amount saved/invested = taxable income

Keep in mind, the point of this thought experiment is not to produce the specifics of the "perfect" tax code. It is to illustrate the apolitical, non-ideological approach that civic-minded legislators (CMLs) will be able to take in crafting an optimized tax code whose final form will enjoy widespread public support.

This same approach can and will be used by CMLs/CMLs -- with significant input/guidance from the vast mainstream of the American people -- to craft optimizing legislation for most if not all of our nation's systems.

IMPORTANT FYI: Optimizing legislation which is based on ANI design objectives will garner widespread support among the American people -- irrespective of their income, education, race, gender, sexual orientation, political affiliation, ideological views, etc..


Some working definitions:

  • optimized free market system: a free market system that is the least cronyized and dysfunctionalized free market system a free market system is capable of being.

  • optimized healthcare system: a healthcare system capable of providing the highest quality healthcare to the greatest number of people at the lowest possible cost to individual patients, the general public and taxpayers.

  • optimized public education system: a public education system capable of providing every student, regardless of socioeconomic and ability level, with an optimized education at the least possible cost to taxpayers.




CMC/CML: civic-minded candidate/legislator

EFFS: economic, financial, fiscal & societal

NLEP: national legislative election process

PAC/PAP: politically ambitious candidate/politician

POM: purity of motive

terms and concepts:

Eventually, an entire encyclopedia of new civic-based terms and concepts will have to be created to explore and analyze this new subfield.

The following should be viewed as working terms and definitions.

civic-minded: free of political ambition/powerlust.

civic zeitgeist: the view/belief within all of society that our nation's best, brightest, most capable and accomplished -- but least politically ambitious -- citizens should begin stepping forward and offering to run and serve a few years in Congress as a one-time civic duty (or begin agreeing to run if "drafted" by community organizations in their districts).

comparative self-governance: the comparative analysis of models and theories of self-governance -- principally the PI Model and ANI Model.

cooperative voting: voters from different political parties using their respective primary processes to field candidates with the same apolitical/non-ideological characteristics that the voters, regardless of their political/ideological views or governing philosophy, deem highly desirable -- e.g., high POM rating.

fyi: cooperative voting is a civic means to a civic end -- e.g., systems optimization (see below).

dysfunctionalized democracy: a democracy whose major systems are dysfunctionalized (to varying degrees).

aside: in terms of self-governance, a democracy in which voters use the PI Model of S-G to select and elect candidates to their national legislature.

dysfunctionalization rule: an advanced democracy's major economic, financial, and societal problems are the symptoms of her dysfunctionalized systems, with the number and severity of the problems proportional to the number of dysfunctionalized systems and the degree of their dysfunctionalization.

making civic love: slang for cooperative voting; voters using the primary process to field CMCs.

optimizing legislation: legislation:

  1. that is apolitical and non-ideological -- i.e., not identifiable as Democratic, Republican, liberal or conservative legislation (or a government or free market solution), and
  2. whose "overarching design objectives" will enjoy widespread support among the general public,
    regardless of:
    • political affiliation
    • ideological views
    • income
    • education
    • age
    • race
    • gender
    • religious beliefs
    • sexual orientation
    • etc..

optimized democracy: a democracy whose major systems are optimized -- e.g.:

  • federal tax system/code
  • financial system
  • free market system
  • healthcare system
  • public education system
  • welfare system
  • criminal justice system
  • mental health system
  • immigration system

POM rating: a measure of the probability that, once in office, a legislator's legislative and policymaking decisions will NOT be influenced by political ambition, powerlust or other self-serving considerations.

  fyi: by definition:
  ALL PACs and PAPs have a zero POM rating.
CMCs and CMLs have a high POM rating.

Principles of Systems Optimization:

  • Every system over which the federal government has statutory or regulatory authority is optimizable via apolitical/non-ideological legislation.
  • Only a national legislature controlled by CMLs has the collective POM needed to enact optimizing legislation.

Principles and/or Characteristics of Political Ambition:

  • the higher the elected office, and the longer the time in office, the greater the political ambition/powerlust.

  • the greater the political ambition/powerlust, the greater the willingness to engage in unethical/immoral behaviors and activities to stay in elected office, especially the national legislature.
    • Examples of unethical/immoral behaviors and activities:
      • special interest pandering/cronyism
      • political cronyism (e.g., patronage)
      • vested interest cronyism
      • demagoguery
      • political finger-pointing
      • etc.

  • the greater the unethical behaviors, the greater the EFFS harm to the nation (via dysfunctionalizing legislation).

science of civic democracy (or science of competent self-governance): the study of the means by which a free society's voters are able to achieve their universally shared ANI objectives.

system integration: where needed, the seamless integration especially of America's welfare, mental health, public education, public housing and social services systems to achieve highly desirable societal outcomes (and moral imperatives) -- for example, to quickly:

  • end chronic unemployment and poverty;
  • break the cycle of crime and violence, and cradle to grave government dependence.



  • optimized education: the set of academic, social and work skills needed to be the most responsible, productive, successful, critical-thinking member of society an individual is capable of being.

  • optimized welfare system: a knowledge- and compassion-based welfare system (rather than a system built and controlled by PAPs) that produces the greatest level of personal resilience and self-sufficiency possible to society's least capable citizens at the lowest possible cost to taxpayers, and least possible input by government.

And let's not forget the one ANI objective that makes all the above ANI objectives possible:

  • optimized Congress: a Congress in which a critical mass of its 100 Senators and 435 Representatives are CMLs/CMLs.



Q: Since CMLs are not "professional" politicians, how can a Congress controlled by "amateurs" possibly run a nation as large and complex as America?

A: CMLs aren't "amateurs" and Congress doesn't "run" America. Our nation is "run" by tens of millions of Americans distributed throughout:

  • dozens of major federal agencies
  • 50 fully functioning state governments
  • thousands of county, city and other government bodies, and
  • millions of:
    • businesses
    • community and social organizations
    • school boards, churches
    • charities, etc.

More importantly, it is precisely because CMLs are not professional (i.e., politically ambitious) politicians that when civic-minded liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans are in control of America's national legislature, collectively they will be able to govern our nation with the:

    • wisdom of a Solomon,
    • intelligence of an Einstein,
    • logic of a Mr. Spock,
    • common sense of a Mark Twain,
    • problem solving skills of a Sherlock Holmes,
    • honesty of an Abe Lincoln,
    • dedication of a Bill Gates,
    • selflessness of a Mother Teresa,
    • resolve of a Martin Luther King, Jr.
    • imagination of a Steven Spielberg,
    • vision of a Steve Jobs.

In my view, this is yet another example of "civic" knowledge that every American of voting age -- along with everyone who will soon be of voting age -- should possess.



The three skill sets of an optimized education explained in blunt terms, but in terms that everyone can understand.

  • academic skill: if a student has one "gallon" of brain power, and not one drop more, then that student will leave the education system with one gallon of academic knowledge, and not one drop less. If a student has two gallons of brain power, etc..
  • social skill: the skill needed to successfully, and with a sense of self-satisfaction, interact with everyone in society -- family, friends, fellow students , neighbors, co-workers, strangers encountered on the street, in shopping malls, etc.
  • work skill: 1) the skill needed to work successfully, and with others, 2) the internalized ethic that compels one to put in an honest days work for an honest days pay, and 3) the attitude that says society doesn't owe anyone a free ride. Everyone who is physically able is expected to provide for their basic needs to the maximum extent possible.

Without this new subfield, America's cognitive elite in academia, media, think tanks, philanthropies, etc. -- along with our nation's students and voters -- will continue to have an unenlightened, one-dimensional understanding of the process of self-governence.













  • Free Market system
  • Federal Tax system
  • Financial system
  • Healthcare system
  • Public Education system
  • Welfare system
  • Criminal Justice system
  • Mental Health system
  • Immigration system
  • etc.







  • inefficient free market system
    • rampant, legalized and institutionalized cronyism
    • regulatory favoritism
    • weak/sporadic economic growth
    • "prosperity" inequality
  • chronic/systemic unemployment
  • political gridlock
  • crippling national debt
  • deteriorating, third world infrastructure
  • increasingly poorer middle class
  • rapidly growing underclass
  • accelerating social decay
  • INCREASING government
    • control
    • cronyism
    • corruption
    • unaccountability
  • INCREASING bureaucratic:
    • power
    • intrusiveness
    • ineptitude
  • less economic justice
  • less individual freedom
  • etc., etc., etc.


With this new subfield, our society will quickly acquire an enlightened, two-dimensional, knowledge-based understanding of the process of self-governence.













  • Free Market system
  • Federal Tax system
  • Financial system
  • Healthcare system
  • Public Education system
  • Welfare system
  • Criminal Justice system
  • Mental Health system
  • Immigration system
  • etc.







  • extraordinarily efficient free market system
    • nonexistent cronyism
    • regulatory fairness
    • sustained, muscular economic growth
    • broad based prosperity
  • (true) FULL employment
  • political consensus building
  • shrinking/non-existent national debt
  • world class infrastructure
  • strong/vibrant middle class
  • shrinking/non-existent underclass
  • vibrant, social pathology-free "inner cities"
  • exceptional social cohesion
  • accountable government
  • bureaucratic:
    • efficiency
    • effectiveness
    • competence
  • maximum economic justice
  • maximum individual freedom
  • etc., etc., etc.





Name: Montie Rainey
Profession: Retired, turned pro-ANI Model/21st century civics curriculum advocate
Education: BS, Mathematics and Computer Science
(University of Illinois at Chicago, 1984)

Opinion columnist, The Jackson Sun (2005-2010)



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