Most government politicians and bureaucrats believe they know best; they should make all the important decisions, and pesky citizens just get in the way. Let me be clear, in most cases, government does know better, should be making most important decisions, and citizens do get in the way. But missing is the opportunity for citizens to work in partnership with government, to achieve what could never be achieved by government working alone. See the Handbook article: Serving Customers or Engaging Citizens and many articles in the National Civic Review.
The importance of working with citizens is most obvious in a large-scale emergency, when government is overwhelmed. When an ice storm in 1998 took out most of Québec's electrical grid, Premier Bouchard said the province would have done much better if it had been able to harness the goodwill of citizens.
Even when there is no emergency, the benefits of working with citizens are great, so why is this kind of cooperation so rare? Why have most countries arrived at a “normal” state of affairs that makes citizens scarce? Imagine trying to create this kind of society from scratch – one where people contribute little to the public sphere, and little to the larger decisions that affect their lives. The ideal design might look like this:
The Troublemaker's Teaparty is an updated and expanded print version of The Citizen's Handbook. It contains all of The Handbook plus additional material on preventing grassroots rot, strategic action, direct action and media advocacy. You can get a copy of The Teaparty from bookstores, Amazon or New Society Publishers.