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Become a politician to (try to) make the world a better place?

About two years ago I discovered TED, then i spent a year watching all the Talks and getting into many different Conversations about just about everything.

It was clear to me long before I found TED that the world had problems, and every now and then I would come up with a solution to one of these problems.
But the problem or the solution was only ever discussed and shared with my friends, who weren't very influential - and thus no changes came to the world from my thoughts or opinions.

As I watched more and more TED Talks and got into deeper and deeper Conversations I realized that many of the problems I had been pondering were already solved in ingenious ways. But very few were ever implemented on large scale, mostly because of political issues in one way or another.

I tried at first to influence politicians through social media and Emails. I wrote to all kinds of officials about everything that was promising and innovative, about all the cool projects that there were out in the world and urged them to take these great ideas to heart.
Very few replied and it is my conclusion that I was unsuccessful in influencing them strongly enough to achieve the amount of change I was hoping for.

So in December I decided to become one, a local politician in my hometown.
So far I haven't been able to pass any revolutionary laws or systems. But I have managed to make politics in Falkenberg, Sweden a bit more transparent and open, getting them to use social media and tech more and better.
I've managed to help save our local hospital from being moved to another city and I've gathered a handful of good and smart people to form a "visionary group" for our city.

On top of that I've met incredible (and not so incredible) people that have the power to change things. And I've been able to forward my ideas to them, getting feedback and achieving (small) change through this.

It's a start!

When will you start and what will it take?

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    Sep 20 2012: join the mob. be a good mob boss. try to influence other mob members to be good. make the mob a peaceful organization.
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    Sep 16 2012: Imo politicians pursue their own agenda of getting reelected and subordinate everything to that primary purpose.

    Now that you are a politician wouldn't be hard to drop it and move on to something else???

    The founders in our country (the U.S.) intended for politicians to be part time, in other word do their duty for a stint and then move on.

    I think to really make a change is a gargantuan task that has to be performed one person at a time, if you bring a person up a notch, you are doing good work. This is not glamorous and likely not acknowledged which further makes me question the motives of a politician? "Good work is it's own reward" is not just a platitude. How many politicians really believe this, manifested not through their words but through their actions which genuinely indicated their motivation.

    With most of the power being centralized it has become the anathema of the individual, yet the individual is where the rubber meets the road ( where real change is made). Where the individual does well, flourishes, is in a small group as in a family, a church, club, classroom, town council. As this is where an individual can communicate.

    Simply put the purpose of government is to create a place where the individual can flourish.It is not about the politician.
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      Sep 19 2012: Hi Pat,

      Actually it would be hard to drop everything, but probably not for the reasons you'd expect. It would be hard to do it right now because;
      1. I got elected on a 1 year term an if I drop it I'd be abandoning my responsibility.
      2. I enjoy it, even though it's often much (unpaid) work and late hours, I feel that I'm making a slight difference and I also get to meet some people who are like me.
      3.I'm learning and advancing upwards, and that will give me the power and knowledge to change more for the better.

      But on the other hand, I'm not used to staying in one place for too long so I often wish to move on to explore something new. Becoming a politician actually goes against my nature in so many ways.

      I am a part time politician, I will move on.

      The purpose of government is to create a nation that flourishes together with the rest of the world.
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        Sep 19 2012: You sound like the opposite of what I think of when I think of a politician, in fact a part time legislator who has not been co opted into the corruption, that is ideal.

        But I do disagree with your last sentence as it is about the individual. I would urge you to look at that point as it is not a small one.
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          Sep 20 2012: Thank you Pat!

          About the last part, I think that perhaps we're just expressing the same thing in different ways.
          What I mean to say is that: Yes, the individual person is very important indeed... We are all individuals but perhaps that's not the way that people should be thinking about themselves, or at least not putting all emphasis on it as we often do.
          It just feels like when people speak of the individual they many times forget about the collective good, trying to grab as much as possible for themselves without regards for their surroundings...

          Let me re-phrase and see if I can get it better this time.

          The purpose of government is... (I've been sitting here for quite some time now and I'm unable to sum it up here, there are just so many things that a government should have as focus areas.) Perhaps maximizing happiness and minimizing suffering whilst being sustainable. Perhaps the purpose is to channel the peoples wishes.

          Perhaps a new Conversation would be in place for this?
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        Sep 21 2012: Jimmy

        There is a large difference of opinion on this subject. The socialist types basically think from the top down and that we know what is best for someone else.

        Myself being a Libertarian and an Ayn Rand type we believe that the individual is the key and that government should be from the bottom up.

        The reason for our thinking is that we have enormous respect for the individual and his liberty. While the government that takes care of less fortunate people has the apparency of being kinder it really is not. In many of the state parks here the park rangers are adamant about not feeding the wild animals because they do not want them to become dependent on the campers for food. Not to mention the fact that if you stopped feeding them as they had become accustom they would become irate. Why don't they show the same respect for the individual?

        When you talk to individuals you will get different answers but when you talk to a group or as you say the collective you will get the same answer the problem is that their is no collective brain as the collective does not think it reacts. Have you ever tried to reason with a riot?

        Everything that has raised the standard of living of mankind has come from the individual it has not come from the collective. Everything that is good has come from an individual it has not come from a group.

        We are not going to agree on this. Based on your answers I can see that this is something that you did not consider was a question. My point is that it is a question. Any change that occurs will occur with the individual not the collective.

        This is not a small point.
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          Sep 22 2012: Hmm... as you say, I disagree.

          I am (as you may have figured out) a socialist and I completely disagree with the statement that socialists are top-down.

          Even though humans are animals we rarely apply the same rules for deer and men so the animal-analogy doesn't do the trick for me. People need a basic safety net that can catch them if they fall.
          Do you mean the respect of letting people go homeless and starving, I call that disrespectful, inhumane even?
          It's not really that easy to get a job if you're homeless. And if you're starving you'd do anything to get food, including most crimes.
          It's really very easy, the state should help people to get back on their feet so that they can continue to contribute and live a happy life. Not punish them for being unsuccessful at life, forcing them of the grid and into crime, which costs a lot more.

          I have never tried reasoning with a riot...

          Individuals can accomplish much, that is true.
          But when I look at mankind's greatest achievements few of them have been accomplished by a single individual, it has been done by people working together to create something that none of them could do alone.
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        Sep 22 2012: Yes, we disagree.

        You understand, the animal analogy was not literal? But I will say that I believe the main difference between animals and humans is spiritual.

        You say socialism is not top down, yet you decide what is best for people and make them dependent on the government, that is most assuredly top down. I understand that starving people should be helped but that is not what I'm talking about. Some politicians take this well past a safety net, which is great for them as they buy votes, but subsidizing illegal immigrants (which then attracts more illegal immigrants) for food, housing, medical care, and education and driving indigenous workers out of the work place is not really a safety net. This not only compels generations to be dependent on government, it necessarily raises taxes on the productive. Today in the U.S. half of the population does not pay any federal income taxes. This not only disrespects the low end but the high end of income producers. Of course what ever you reward you get more of which means more people who become dependent on the government and get government transfers (welfare) that doesn't show up as income and who do work under the table or on the black market and less people who want to take the enormous risk of starting a business.

        Another aspect of socialism disrespecting humans I will explain in a story. A customer of mine worked in Germany as a mountain guide for a few years and had to decide where he would live the rest of his life Germany or the U.S.. He loved Germany and we both agreed the apprenticing and training is second to none. But in Germany his future children would be channeled in a certain direction from about age 10 on. In the U.S. his children would have the freedom to choose what ever they wanted to do and change their mind if they wanted. This was the main reason he decided to move back to the U.S. He has tried many different business' and succeeded and failed.

        You see if you are going to have opportunity..
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        Sep 22 2012: it has to be opportunity to win and loose. This is organic to life, both the process of living and the individual. You see true happiness comes from having an interest and to have goals and overcome barriers and achieve those goals.

        This is why the U.S. has been the most successful country in history, which has raised the standard of living of the world more than any other country in history. It has created an culture where people could do just that in other word this culture has been the most alive.

        Sadly the perversion of the intangible qualities of this country which attracts high quality people will probably be the demise of this country as it will with many countries like the PIGS, Argentina, etc.

        "Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master."

        George Washington
  • Sep 16 2012: Jimmy, what you are trying to do is admirable but you have to be very strong person to not be corrupted by politics (I'm not just talking about financial corruption and lying but also about always remembering that you may not always be right or need to listen to other people's advice before making a decision). You say you've done discussion for two years now, that could be enough, but it also may not be. I think to be a good leader you have to engage in discussions with people of different political persuasions to see where they are coming from and why some of what they're saying makes sense even though their overall story doesn't. You should also need to expand your knowledge base: history, geography, geopolitics and economics, lots of economics, but most of all science and math because you need science for many issues and you need math to understand science and economics. Never stop thinking outside the box: just because most people only know capitalism and socialism doesn't mean there's nothing else out there for you to discover on some obscure wikipedia page, or invent yourself. And never stop thinking critically about your own ideas: come up with possible counterarguments in your mind and let other people try to poke holes in them so you can plug those holes.
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      Sep 19 2012: Hi John, thank you!
      I will not be corrupted, this I feel with the utmost certainty. I have no desires for riches, I am a happier man now, earning much less, then I ever was before. Of course no one is immune to the corruption of mind, but I do make it a habit of never claiming certainty, as Hans Rosling says " I am a probabalist".

      Well I've been doing TED Conversations for two years, and educational and transformative as they are. I'm not really sure if how long you've been hanging around Conversations is a good measuring stick for how well crafted your thoughts are, I've seen evidence of it not being so...

      I do engage with any person that is willing to debate with reason and mutual respect for opinions. I have expanded my knowledge (and continue to do so) in all the fields you mention and I do have a certain love for science and math.

      All of your advice is right along my tracks... If you yourself follow these advises you should surely think about becoming a politician ;-)
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    Sep 16 2012: Congratulations to you on your commitment and your local successes. We all follow different paths, some in the spotlight and some not, and can all make a difference if we choose to.
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    Sep 29 2012: Nothing wrong in getting involved - 'but' & this may sound unhelpful - it is almost pointless as the whole democratic system simply does not work anyway - basically its not really democratic and (in the UK at least) has not implemented ANY useful change since the NHS was introduced over 60 years ago!
    So, if you join politics (in the UK) you just help with local issues (that's fine), but you will never influence major change.
    (To understand the thinking behind this please see the link at the end).

    I am NOT being defeatist and do believe that the system could change - but until we start looking at politics with our eyes open, we shall just maintain the status-quo. And, I am not talking about change through fear or violence, but change from the clear NEED to change - maybe by a new generation becoming aware of their power to change the system peacefully by using new technology along with their purchasing power to lever true change to a new system. Economics and capitalism as run currently will simply, in the not too distant future, not work at all. It shall become absolutely necessary to create massive politic and economic change - as we move away from work for all (the Robots et al) to a different system of sharing out the wealth (created by the Bots) and away from capitalism to 'resourcism'.

    So we need sensible planning for a future political process that offers much improved democracy and can actually deliver real change. Please see the following link for (at least) one idea on how this may achieved.

    Let's have a sensible, quality debate on potential new politics that could really work.

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    Sep 20 2012: Hello Jimmy,

    Thank you for a very interesting idea. I would make a terrible politician, i confess, but i am glad there are politicians like you trying to change things from within.

    It is an uphill battle of course, because the main point is to become a politician and chart a plan to make politicians mostly obsolete in a few decades. I won't be surprised if you find a lot of resistance!

    Yes, a transparent voting system would make sense for some things, but beware! we might find ourselves with a population where a majority might want to vote to repel the law of gravity. My point is that that there are limits to what can be achieved through voting.

    But noble is indeed the effort to make voting more transparent and more relevant to actual citizens, rather than the cyclical exercise on "feel good" and "feel included" that seems to be nowadays

    As for myself, I would work in parallel to your efforts. One of the biggest problems in politics, as stated in some of the responses below, is that money rules. So my focus is instead in devising ways to make money less and less relevant. Yes it's very idealistic. But with a goal of making individuals truly self sufficient, completely independent from money, i could at least chart a path and start giving the first steps. With this, I hope, I would be achieving some of the goals that you seem to have embedded in your question

    TED indeed has lots of talent floating around. I think the next step is to leverage that talent and these amazing networking capabilities and start bringing down to earth those ideas one by one, one project at a time

    Looking forward to working with you on this

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      Sep 22 2012: Hi Andres,

      It is an uphill battle, I expect to find a lot(!) of resistance.

      Yes, there is always the risk of people being mislead but It's a lot harder to mislead a nation then it is a chamber of congress. I agree with Winston Churchill that "Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried."
      It is the best system we've been able to come up with, and there's nothing more to do then have faith in that system and hope that they don't ban gravity.

      I too have been working/pondering in ways to make money less relevant, very idealistic indeed, I like that.

      Yes, collaborating for a better world.

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    Sep 20 2012: no .i think you should not become a politician .you can also make the world a better a famous expert.or writer .you should just stick to yourself .
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      Sep 22 2012: Hi Chen.

      I appreciate the concern but I will stick to being myself, if that doesn't work, so be it.
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    Sep 20 2012: I am actually going to run for Governor of Ohio in the 2014 election. I very much plan on use some ted talk ideas for my running platform . As well as trying to get rid of the D and R from beside everyone's name and make them all I's. And hopefully do it for free if everything works out over the next year to remind people that these men and women we elect are suppose to be public servants and not the other way around.
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      Sep 22 2012: Glad to hear it Casey, good luck to you.
    • Sep 22 2012: hi casey ,i think my idea is a very good start you will boost your popularity , good luck to you
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        Sep 22 2012: Thank you, both


        What idea are you referring to?
        • Sep 22 2012: hello, my idea is very simple , it's about the global crisis ideas ,if you count the number of people who have the power of decision in a government you will see that they are not numerous this is why they must to search a very special people among millions of them who can give a special ideas because the actual crisis need a special ideas ,how this idea could be realized? it's very simple all the governement of the world who want real change must to create ( the secretariat of the innovative ideas) why ?(1)-firstly because they are not numerous (2)-secondly they try to solve the current problems with solutions of the past ( tax increase) (3)they have no power over finance ,statistically you can be sure to find people from all sides who can give inovative ideas ,the most intresting ideas will examined by experts commitions and finaly the governement have the final décision to accept or not the idie
        • Sep 22 2012: this is the second one , we know water resources dwindled day by day, I tell you simply that this is an event happen in my bathroom and I shoot in my field of view, i view my old manual faucet and I was shocked to see that I shoot an invention that dates back to 1486 with an iPhone ho the man has done better technologically, that's why the faucets works in automatic approach hands must be generalize in most houses possible to diminish enormously the waste water (1) firstly find the cheapest to produce as possible for the amount of faucets, the change of the old faucets will recover a lot of copper that will reduce the cost of the news (2) secondly we must take the best of them and put them in a museum (3) it's going to create many jobs , thank you
  • Sep 19 2012: I used to be an anarchist, not voting. Then I discovered the Pirate Party which lets you participate using the internet. Lately I watched some Ron Paul clips and reverted back to the initial (libertarian) anarchist stance.

    People will have to become organised in a non-autoritarian way, using the internet. Governments misinform the public and take away incentive to self-organize.

    If I became president I would send everybody home and fire myself.
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    Sep 19 2012: John, don't know where you are from (no bio) but I do not see the two year term as the big problem. I see that we have allowed the fox to guard the hen house. The politicians make the rules governing politicians. They can virtually ensure the club remains the exclusive domain of the eliete.

    Isn't the House of Lords a rather exclusive club. I once read that a Lord could go to jail for murder come out and reclaim his seat ... the only requirement is that he could not be broke. Is that true?

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      Sep 19 2012: If you press the "Reply" button on John's comment there's a bigger chance that he'll read it :-)
    • Sep 19 2012: "Isn't the House of Lords a rather exclusive club"

      I'm sure it is, but you've just managed to pick the only example of such an exclusive system. All other democracies have no such problem with their upper house. In Europe the average parliamentarian comes from the middle classand is still not a millionaire when they leave parliament some 4-10 years later.

      "The politicians make the rules governing politicians."

      Yeah, but that kinda comes with the territory, who else has the authority?

      America's elephant in the room is election financing. All other countries use some kind of public election fund, only in the US does it require millions to get elected to parliament and hundreds of millions to become president. Obviously corporations and billionaires will take advantage of that situation. The last French presidential election cost $22 million, compare that to the >1 billion the American presidential cadidates will have spend (America's population is only 5 times larger than that of France and income levels are similar).
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        Sep 20 2012: That is a point I actually agree with. Do you have any links that show studies on this?
  • Sep 18 2012: the problem of governments it has too much pride to ask for help citizens simply, we must also say that the numbers of person in government who have the power of decision are very few, that's why it is urgent that government to create (a secretariat of innovative ideas) plus they have nothing to lose and the secretariat will be cheaper to manage because it's wil allow people to participate in direct way to change, it will be examined by commition which have the final decision to accept or not the idea ,exuse my english
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      Sep 19 2012: I've been in contact with " " which let's citizens do precisely that and more. I'm working on ways of getting it implemented here.

      Watch the TEDx Talk about Seeclickfix if you wish
      • Sep 20 2012: . thank you jimmy , is very interesting I hope successful for you , if we don't think different the future will be very bad like the movie MAD MAX , and if I have ideas I wil tel you about
      • Sep 22 2012: go, because I'm nice, I give you the first one , we know water resources dwindled day by day, I tell you simply that this is an event happen in my bathroom and I shoot in my field of view, i view my old manual faucet and I was shocked to see that I shoot an invention that dates back to 1486 with an iPhone ho the man has done better technologically, that's why the faucets works in automatic approach hands must be generalize in most houses possible to diminish enormously the waste water (1) firstly find the cheapest to produce as possible for the amount of faucets, the change of the old faucets will recover a lot of copper that will reduce the cost of the news (2) secondly we must take the best of them and put them in a museum (3) it's going to create many jobs , thank you
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    Sep 18 2012: Pat has stated it well in his reply. In the US we created a big problem when we allowed politics to a career. The politicians found that they had the power to vote themselves high wages and perks with the ability to "manipulate the law" could sell their votes to the highest bidder and those who would finanice their re- election. They cast their vote for a bridge to nowhere in Alaska based on support from that politician for your self serving project in your state. Both projects are now funded and the money and influence flows.

    In the United States this is called the millionaires club (Congress). Laws are passed without even reading them ... and then exempt themselves from the law. We face a fiscial cliff due in Jan 2013. This is the biggest issue in the history of the US and yet not even a issue in the elections debates.

    The key to politics in the US is money. You gotta pay to ride the gravey train. Poor people have no chance.

    Good luck in your efforts. Bob.
    • Sep 18 2012: Many countries have career politicians. The bigger issues in the US are the 2-year election cycles (it's always election season) and the way political candidates and parties are bought/funded (by the highest bidder) and need lots of money for even the lowliest election. Many European prime mininisters and parliamentarians never become millionaires in their life, while the American parliament is only reachable when you are a millionaire.
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      Sep 19 2012: Well, I'm broke and so are most of my political friends, It's not really the same over here.
      I'm afraid that I'm not very well accustomed with many of your political systems in the U.S.
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    Sep 17 2012: Good to hear of your efforts and your progress.

    But I dont believe that the world of tomorrow, thanks to certain political ideology with popular support, would be radically different from today.

    It is the same humanity; with our hypocrisy, selfishness, greed and other numerous failings that usually brings the worst out of even the most brilliant ideas and systems.

    Yes, we should do the best we can in every position we find ourselves; and we should not give up; and we should not have grand illussions of our ability to change the world.
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      Sep 19 2012: Thank you Feyisayo.

      However I think that the humanity you speak of have many more traits then the ones you mention.

      I might have grand illusions about my ability to change the world, only time will tell.
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      Sep 20 2012: One man/women can change the word. All he/she has to do is choose to change it and there is nothing that can stop that person other then say death by some sort. Otherwise he has changed his mind. It all about personal choice never let anyone take that away from you with out your permission
  • Sep 17 2012: Really we just need selfless people like you in the system. you got my vote but ill watch your actions over your words best of luck foward thinker.
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      Sep 19 2012: Thank you very much!
      That is precisely what one should do when watching a politician, although one should also think about peoples intents.
      And best of luck to you, good sir.
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    Sep 16 2012: Small change is good enough,better than no change,we had a minister that refused to cut his hair or dreadlocks though the system was always at him day in day out,i admired him for his strength and laughed my headoff when he left parliament and decided to cut his hair,he achieved only small change but it helped his party.
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      Sep 19 2012: I've never had dreadlocks but I' have long hair so there is that option. And I've been promising my friends that I'd get dreadlocks if I ever get elected prime minister ;-P
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        Sep 20 2012: You bloody better become PM Jim, then i can say to people "I once posted with the PM of Sweden" no one would believe me lol Good Journey Jim
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    Sep 16 2012: I registered with TED a few days ago and since then my thoughts have accelerated. Last week, I created a twitter account (@Oondoon) as a means of expressing my thoughts without qualification. At the moment, of 82 tweets there are 24 followers. This simple validation led me to TED and I am know conversing and socializing in such a way that is has changed my entire disposition.

    The act of participation can transform our society. Networked and distributed participation could make traditional politics obsolete. It could make traditional religion obsolete. The actual problems of the world need actual solutions. The utility we have in the form of technology allows us the capability transcend politics and government. It gives us the tools to build a sustainable social infrastructure capable of maintaining our cultural and local infrastructure while reducing impact on global resources.

    In my mind, there is a definite need for aware politicians to be bold enough to help move government institutions and banks from the centralized systems to distributed systems.
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      Sep 19 2012: Hello Christopher, welcome to TED!

      I fully agree with everything that you say!
      I too am really interested in what tech can bring us, I dream of a future where politicians are no longer needed, a future where people govern themselves together.