PB 2.0 as a tool, part I: An Expanded Heritage Model
In the lead up to the 2006 elections, I met a Democratic candidate running in a primary for a Congressional seat. (I won't say who or whether they won or not.) After a "riveting" conversation (and by riveting, I mean the typical political spiel) I got to ask them a few questions. To gauge where their priorities would be I asked them what committees they would like to be on and why. The person had no real answer, but mentioned something that has really stuck with me*: most representatives follow the advice of a handful of colleagues. In other words, there are many issues I know nothing about.
One can easily criticize this, and to a large extent I do. However, one thing I learned as a graduate student, is that relying on your peers can be crucial and can save a lot of time. Some people spend years on a particular topic and know all the intricacies of that topic, so why not use that knowledge and expertise? Of course when it comes time to publish or present, you have to be reasonably comfortable with the material. But having go-to resources (colleagues) on a topic can speed up the process of learning about it and being able to apply it.
Back to my congressional candidate. If this person has to rely on Congressional colleagues as his resources, chances are they will adopt the policy proposals and talking points of folks already in Congress. GOP candidates get their papers from GOP congresscritters and Dem candidates from Dems already in office. What if PB2.0 provided some policies of their own? Or what if PB2.0 provided some research papers collected in one convenient place? This could help would be pols who don't have the time to become experts in every area by themselves. This is a model similar to that of the Heritage Foundation. (If you are part of PB2.0 and don't know the history of The Heritage Foundation, then you have some work to do!)
The Heritage model can be applied to local offices as well. Say City A has found that water sanitation proposal 1 works much better than water sanitation proposal 2 and City B is debating the competing proposals. The choice of City B is likely going to come down to external lobbying forces, propaganda, or facts. PB2.0 could provide the facts in an easy to find location. Furthermore, it could collect facts from City C, City D, etc. The discussion of selling certain policies to voters would be a useful addition to the Heritage model. PB2.0 should be more than just a series of white papers for pols.
This aspect of PB2.0 addresses some crucial questions. Who is the audience? Politicians and staffers at every level (and trust me, I've seen the research some of the staffers do and it isn't always pretty) and campaign volunteers trying to sell certain policies to voters. What is the goal? To promote a liberal viewpoint on the issues by providing research, but also provide strategies to making the sell to people in different communities with different interests. It would also foster a community-based solutions approach.
I would like to think of this aspect of PB2.0 as a viral virtual think-tank. Many liberal think tanks and research institutions already have the research done, but are in disparate locations. The investment of time is considerable, but the alternative is to let others (e.g. Heritage) provide this resource to pols. It is also Party Invariant. If I were running for office, or in elected office, I'd like to have this resource.
* Without going into details, the person I'm referring to was a favorite of the Dem leadership. The person was agreeable and would have been (or is) a decent Congressperson.
NOTE: Lambert, my computer has no power source so my series on science has been put on hold until it is fixed. Also, using a public computer means I don't have time to put my ideas in as much focus as I'd like without taking a really long time. Apologies in advance.