DC and State Houses in America today are facing their greatest challenge since the Civil War from their own people, against their own people. How does a house divided rebuild after a surreal and spectacular fall?
1. Seditious Conspiracy charges for participants in planning & producing this Jan 6th event
Call it a failed coup, coup-play, insurrection or an act of domestic terrorism, it falls squarely into a few key legal codes with clear ramifications and penalties. This definition comes from Reason as it is found in open legal journals.
Does this mean that the federal forces that allowed rioters to coup and take the Capitol should be considered part of the conspiracy? What about senators and congresspeople who incited riots in the Capitol or other states, should they be considered part of this seditious conspiracy and charged or expelled? Who can be trusted, and how will we know? These questions and many more will be answered in the coming weeks as we all go back to work and address the breakdowns. During the first year of the Civil War, 15 congressmen were expelled from the Capitol and there’s precedent for removing officers, congresspeople and staff who are found to be seditious or untrustworthy. Information stolen today may take months to be discovered. Lives were risked and lives were lost due to incited violences by leaders using social media.
2. Systems redesign & new infosec implementation, across agencies
We know computers were left on in the Capitol while it was held by people who were allowed to walk out with unknown items. It could reasonably take decades to find any physical detritus left by chaos monkeys with a few hours on their hands and a penchant for fuckery (note, infosec and security is not my specialty but I’ve dealt with enough griefers and trolls in 25 years of interactive media to know how many ways they can fuck a system). We’ll need to change every address and computer. Every physical and digital system will need a thorough redesign and update with comprehensive sweeps for spyware and malware for some time to come.
Do not assume any system is as it seems to be, especially related to infrastructure or financial services. Any and every vulnerability may be exploited by any number of foreign forces at this juncture —but there’s a way through this. We must treat the public as a robust fourth branch of open government, inviting interactive journalism and deliberation to ensure the long term viability of this reset. Tracking money flow within all agencies and political systems can be done, and it may be necessary to build this openly for achieving #3 below. Realtime social media moves faster to censure or ban than government can rule or decide to act, and we’ll need public failsafes provided by third sector orgs and open web institutions protected under legal codes like Section 230 for safer and more connected deliberation during extremely volatile moments to come. Solarwinds vulnerabilities are still being addressed that have compromised everyone and we have a long way to go before we’ll have secure systems again, and unfortunately that was true before today’s coup attempt.
3. Rebuild trust one day at a time through honest communication
This piece of strategy and community service is hard, especially as people in government and politics get more out of step with the needs of their constituents. Politicians, public servants and government agencies need a visible approach to transparency, accountability and sharing information with the public that accelerates use of interactive tools with open data and real-time dialogue.
We needed this honest slap in the face to be more honest.
Now is the time for bold leaders to set clear new visions on the table. Cut pandering BS, be blunt and don’t hold back if you see a better way. TikTok your new bill ideas if you have to, just get it out there and invite PARTICIPATION. This is the heart of civic engagement.
We need new approaches to interaction and media in the public commons.
Watch people who are great at online engagement to understand how to use new media channels honestly while still asking great questions — they’ll help unearth new trends to invite new levels of interactive dialogue and deliberative process with the public over social platforms, game worlds and any space people gather to discuss ideas. Watch how people play and open the floor to conversation, and notice who asks the best questions that drive actions forward or demonstrate authenticity in leadership. Who invites the best ideas?
The future of safer and more inclusive and deliberative processes will come from the worlds of virtual events, interactive gaming, real-time streaming and open journalism happening in the moment across social channels.
The public is tired of anything less than the truth and will find a way to root out information, so think now about how to open dialogue will set leaders apart from lobbyists. The future of governance will be determined by how we choose to engage the public after these failures of trust and accountability across our agencies and departments, from local “authorities” to federal offices.