Asymmetric Scrutiny, Superforecasting, and Public Policy

Friday, September 23, 2016

by Nick Charney RSS / cpsrenewalFacebook / cpsrenewalLinkedIn / Nick Charneytwitter / nickcharneygovloop / nickcharneyGoogle+ / nickcharney

A few weeks ago I wrote about the problem of asymmetric scrutiny as it relates to the change agenda and public sector innovation culture more broadly speaking (See: Asymmetric Warfare: Agents of Changes vs Agents of the Status Quo). In short I think the problem of asymmetric scrutiny significantly impacts our organizations and the innovation agenda writ large. What I didn't explore last week was how the cultural practice applies to the development of public policy options and public opinion. However, before we can make that connection more explicit, there's an important bridging concept that's worth introducing: superforecasting.

Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction is a book written by Philip E. Tetlock and Dan Gardner (who was later hired as an advisor to the current Prime Minister) released in 2015; the book details findings from The Good Judgment Project and generally explains the art and science of prediction. Its worth noting that the book itself was rumoured to be making the rounds politically in Ottawa (though this was largely overshadowed by talk of deliverology) and the concept was the subject of one of presentations at the last Policy Ignite.

I won't walk you through the whole thesis but essentially the books makes the case that people are generally pretty bad at making predictions about the future (i.e. most people are bad forecastors). Superforecastors are different in that they represent a very small subset of people who can assign a numeric probability (i.e. make odds) to the likelihood of particularly complex global event occurring (e.g. Brexit) with a high degree of accuracy. If you are looking for a good introduction to the topic I would suggest listening to an episode of Freakonomics entitled: "How to be less terrible at predicting the future" as it provides a great introduction to the concept. The podcast included an interview with Superforecasting co-author Phillip Tetlock where he summarized some of the most important characteristics of superforecastors. While all of these characteristics may be important for superforecasting some of them are more important than others when it comes to improving how we understand the problem of asymmetric scrutiny; more specifically:

  • Starting with an outside view rather an inside view
  • Willingness to change your view in the face of new information

My basic premise being that asymmetric scrutiny is prevalent precise because we are generally terrible at these two things; and since we can't accurately predict the future we measure its worth, or hold it to account, with the yardstick of the past. In other words, the two phenomena go hand in hand. Let's explore each of these characteristics in turn.

Starting with an outside view rather an inside view

First, 'starting with an outside rather than an inside view' means looking at the broader trends (rather than the specifics of the particular situation) and using the broader context as an anchor for prediction (rather than the specifics of the immediate and narrow circumstances). This isn't generally something that we do from either a change or public policy perspective. In my experience the downward pressure within the bureaucracy typically comes to bare on the specifics of a given change initiative rather than the broader context from within which it is being advanced. It doesn't meet the specifics of guidelines X, or it fails to align with corporate initiative Y, or Z dollars is too costly in today's figures. The pressures are seldom about how a particular initiative is out of sync with the generalities of zeitgeist, flies in the face of the workplace culture we are espousing, or might not generate the anticipated value over the lifespan of the project. Take Blueprint 2020 as a concrete example, many people have taken issues with its specifics but few can argue that it was not a step in the right general direction.

The same thinking applies to the formation of public policy. Look at all the concern about the implications of self-driving cars -- epitomized by the discussions about what algorithms should decide to do in a 'who to kill' situation where loss of life is inevitable. Public discourse on this issue tends to over emphasize the issue of deaths due to autonomous vehicles in absolute terms (i.e. taking an inside view) rather than as a percentage of the overall mortality rate for traffic accidents (there were 1.25 million road traffic deaths globally in 2013). While concerns about autonomous vehicles causing accidents is real, perhaps it ought not to factor so heavily into how we understand the issue. Taking an outside view rather than an inside view on this issue might alter the balance of the discussion and reshape the public discourse. The inside view generates asymmetric scrutiny on autonomous vehicles, shapes public opinion and thus limits the government's ability to make 'progressive' (outside view driven) policy.

Willingness to change your view in the face of new information

Second, the 'willingness to change your view in the face of new information' is conceptually very straightforward but occurs rarely in practice in large permission-based cultures. These cultures tend to make sense of new information by contextualizing it within the current frame or rule set, they do not easily re-frame or change the rule set in the face of new information. This is precisely why the Treasury Board Policy Suite is something that needed to be reset -- it finally became apparent that so much of it was stale -- rather than something that adapted and changed over time as the context changed. The problem here is well known and again directly connected to the notion of asymmetric scrutiny. How many people are responsible for ensuring compliance with the rule set across the organization, all of whom are unable to change the rules in the face of new information and forced to apply them as they are written. This dogmatism is the very definition of the problem asymmetric scrutiny and illustrates why the problem is systemic and slows innovative forces within our institutions.

Again the same thinking applies to the formation of policy options. Being slow to move from wherever public discourse is currently anchored slows down our policy response and often means we end up behind the eight-ball, bringing policy solutions that are largely about mitigation rather than prevention. This can especially be the case when highly specialized knowledge (technical or scientific) is slow to move into the mainstream. The impact of tobacco on public health in the 1990s was a good example of this as is (perhaps) the impact of sugar today. All in all this makes 'progressive' policy incredibly difficult to pursue.

How do we do culture better?

First, we can change hiring practices so that it better privileges candidates who approach problems from an outside rather than an insider view; candidates who are willing to change their view in light of new information.

Second, we can set mandatory review dates for all of the guidelines and directives in the Treasury Board Policy Suite to ensure that the policy framework is evergreen and invest the necessary resources to prune it and keep it healthy so that it never needs to be 'reset' again.

How do we do policy better?

First, we can introduce more specific and purposeful policy making techniques (e.g. foresight) that privilege the outside view by design.

Second, we can popularize highly technical and/or scientific knowledge by using plain language to introduce complex ideas and raise issues with the general public (e.g. public education) to move public opinion.

Public engagement and hard policy evidence

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

by Kent Aitken RSS / cpsrenewalFacebook / cpsrenewalLinkedIn / Kent Aitkentwitter / kentdaitkengovloop / KentAitken

Last week I pressed send on my dissertation, on which I'll blame my lack of posting. The topic was public engagement in Canada, and particularly, the role of economic analysis. My plan is to reduce the interesting parts of that research into a readable length, but I thought I might share six points that fell out of my conclusion.

1. Public engagement on policy, program, and service development is a thing. There's always a slate of ongoing public consultations in Canada, but the pace has picked up in the last year and the major difference is that there are far more that are intended for a broad public audience, rather than niche stakeholder groups. There are pros and cons to this.

2. As a general rule, government consultations are designed to understand what citizens value, but in a qualitative, rather than quantitative, way. That is, public input is viewed as a source of ideas and general feedback, not as empirically rigourous data. As currently practiced, public engagement is better suited for generating general insights, achieving social licence for policies, and avoiding major pitfalls than it is for systematically adding to the evidence base for policy options.

3. Each public engagement activity is important. Each represents an experience through which citizens' trust in government, and their willingness to participate in future engagement, can rise or fall. Public perception of the value of these engagements is crucial. The major variables here are the extent to which public input can theoretically influence policy, and the extent to which governments can prove that input was meaningfully considered. 

4. While it can be appropriate for governments to seek public input for general ideas and feedback, there's a massive downside. The greater the extent to which public input can be considered hard evidence, the easier it is for governments to incorporate that input in policy decisions, and the easier it is for governments to demonstrate how it influenced policy. There are many goals to engagement, including education, consensus-building, and legitimacy, but insofar as better policy is a central goal, engagement should be designed to produce data.

5. Public engagement is complex. There are hundreds of studied formats, each requiring a set of detailed design decisions, to align governments' needs with citizen satisfaction while producing the required data and insights. However, the way public engagement is governed, most of these design decisions are lost. If I may be blunt, it's essentially like a first-time homeowner overruling an architect on how their plumbing and electrical will work.

6. Governments need to build capacity for public engagement, particularly digital, but as per the above they may already have more capacity than they realize. So they must also develop governance that prioritizes expertise and good practices over ad hoc goals. The strongest version of this would be governance that includes public input and oversight on how engagement is designed and evaluated.

Asymmetric Warfare: Agents of Change vs Agents of the Status Quo

Friday, September 9, 2016

by Nick Charney RSS / cpsrenewalFacebook / cpsrenewalLinkedIn / Nick Charneytwitter / nickcharneygovloop / nickcharneyGoogle+ / nickcharney

Last week I shared a short reflection on the problem of asymmetric scrutiny (See: The Problem of Asymmetric Scrutiny) – the cultural norm of applying a higher approval threshold to new things than we apply to the status quo. If this observation is indeed correct – and many have told me recently that it is – than perhaps there are lessons to be gleaned from the idea of asymmetric warfare.

Now – to be clear – I’m not necessarily of the view that there is a culture war between innovation and the status quo (though perhaps there is) and I usually don’t like using combative metaphors; that said, I think it’s worth dusting off my undergraduate PoliSci text book and exploring the idea a little further.

What is asymmetric warfare?

Asymmetric warfare is simply a conflict between actors whose relative power, strategy or tactics differ significantly. It’s typically it’s a conflict between a traditional force and resistance movement. This power asymmetry creates situations where each party attempts to exploit each other’s characteristic weaknesses. This makes it incredibly difficult to anticipate who will win the conflict because there is no way to effectively measure the resources available to either side.

But why do weaker actors fight stronger ones? 

Academics have a number of hypotheses as to why this happens, including:
  • Weaker actors may have secret weapons
  • Weaker actors may have powerful allies
  • Weaker actors must consider other weak rivals when responding to threats from powerful actors
  • Stronger actors are unable to make threats credible
  • Stronger actors make extreme demands
And how do weaker actors win?

And a number of theories as to how weak actors can defeat strong actors even when they lack traditional sources of power:
  • Weaker actors can more reliably implement a coherent strategy
  • Weaker actors are willing to suffer or bear higher costs
  • Weaker actors are supported by external actors
  • Stronger actors are unwilling to escalate the severity of their response when their demands are not met
  • Changing attitudes of the rivals over time

How asymmetric warfare apply to innovation? 

Asymmetric warfare (as explained above) is not a dissimilar characterization of what “innovators” face when they run up against the “no-machine” (protectors of the status quo).

Power asymmetry between agents of change and agents of the status quo creates leads both parties to to exploit each other’s weaknesses to gain the advantage. For example, change agents (the resistence force) try to outmanoeuvre the system by moving faster, ignoring established rules, and cutting hierarchy when it suits them; whereas, agents of the status (the traditional force) counter by clogging the system to slow it down, deploying checks and balances that favour them and invoking hierarchy wherever it is to their advantage. The net result here is similar: it's hard to pick winners in the innovation ecosystem.

Why do agents of change fight?

They could fight because:
  • Agents of change may be better at anticipating important shifts in the terrain ("secret weapons")
  • Agents of change may have strong influence networks ("powerful allies")
  • Agents of change must consider other competing interests moving through the system ("weak rivals") 
  • Agents of the status quo may be unable to make the consequences meaningful to agents of change ("credible threats")
  • Agents of the status quo may require proof beyond that which is reasonable to agents of change ("extreme demands")

How do agents of change win?

Change is likely when:
  • Agents of change can implement and articulate a coherent strategy
  • Agents of change are willing to suffer or bear higher costs (e.g. personal reputation or career progression)
  • Agents of change are supported by external actors (e.g. politicians, think tanks, scientists, etc.)
  • Agents of the status quo are unwilling to escalate the severity of their response when their demands are not met 
  • Changing attitudes of the rivals over time

How does all this help us understand the problem of asymmetric scrutiny?

Within this context I think we better can understand that is likely more purposeful than accidental. it is a tool deployed tool by agents of the status quo against agents of change. The former control where scrutiny is applied and to what degree and so they apply it asymmetrically against those who would undermine their authority (caveat: this is likely more frequently and more simply referred to under the rubric of 'accountability').

The lesson then is that agents of change must not only be champions for the thing they want to see changed or implemented but must also be engaging in active and frequent discussions about accountability and scrutiny and how a better balance ought to be struck between that which is new and that which is not.

The Problem of Asymmetric Scrutiny

Friday, September 2, 2016

by Nick Charney RSS / cpsrenewalFacebook / cpsrenewalLinkedIn / Nick Charneytwitter / nickcharneygovloop / nickcharneyGoogle+ / nickcharney

One of the largest barriers to innovation is simply the problem of asymmetric scrutiny.

In short, the prevailing cultural norm is to apply more scrutiny to the new than to the status quo.

I think if we applied scrutiny more evenly -- even if say we only split the current difference -- we'd probably be doing far less of what we currently do and a lot more of what we don't (yet) do.

5 Things About Online Public Engagement

Friday, August 19, 2016
by Nick Charney RSS / cpsrenewalFacebook / cpsrenewalLinkedIn / Nick Charneytwitter / nickcharneygovloop / nickcharneyGoogle+ / nickcharney

Back in November I wrote a post entitled "Thinking, fast and slow about online public engagement" Today I'm going to push that thinking a deeper, provide some examples and generally expand the premise and reasoning behind the original piece. In so doing I will undoubtedly re-cover the some of the same ground so the original isn't mandatory reading. Oh and heads up this, is a long read.

Thinking, Fast and Slow about Online Public Engagement

Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow is from the increasingly popular field of behavioural economics. It was widely read in government circles in Canada and elsewhere, so if you haven't read it yet, you might considering picking it up. If that's not your speed you could sit down for an hour and watch the video below or just read my quick explanation underneath it.

At it's core Kahneman's thesis is that the human mind is made up of two different and competing (metaphorical) systems: System 1 (fast) and System 2 (slow).

System 1 operates automatically, intuitively, involuntary, and effortlessly — like when we drive, recognize facial expressions, or remember our name.

System 2 requires conscious effort, deliberating, solving problems, reasoning, computing, focusing, concentrating, considering other data, and not jumping to quick conclusions — like when evaluate a trade-off (cost benefit analysis) or fill out a complicated form.

The problem — according to Kahneman — isn't that people have two systems of thinking, but that they often rely on one system in situations when they should be using the other.

So, what happens if we apply Kahneman's fast and slow thinking to the realm of online public engagement, where -- presumably -- we can citizens to be deliberate and considerate problem solvers?

First, let's look at the technology of participation

Nearly all of the popular (or would-be popular) the technology providers out there are relentlessly focused on design as a means to make things as easy and as intuitive to use as possible, to make things fast, to reduce friction. That's because more online product and/or service providers want to 'conversions' (e.g. want you to take a specific action, such as click, share or purchase). in fact there's a whole field called Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO); here's how the ever popular Shopify describes it (h/t Jason Pearman for the link):

"Your store needs to be designed with your customers in mind.

While boosting your traffic can generate more sales, it’s just as important to focus on turning your current traffic into paying customers.

At every step of your customers’ purchasing journeys, there are new opportunities for you to make their paths shorter, easier, and more enjoyable. Through rigorous experimentation and analysis, you can fine-tune your website to push people closer to making a purchase. This process is called Conversion Rate Optimization or CRO.

Conversion Rate Optimization is a technique for increasing the percentage of your website traffic that makes a purchase, also known as a conversion.
And, on a much smaller scale, conversions are happening all the time leading up to that moment, too.

For instance, a conversion on your homepage might mean having a visitor click through to a product. A conversion on a product page might mean a customer clicking ‘Add to Cart’. Conversions can be entirely dependent on the purpose that a specific part of your website serves.

To optimize your online store for conversions, both big and small, you need to be constantly testing each and every aspect of your website."
To be clear, there is nothing inherently wrong with the logic of using design to reduce friction and increase conversions if that is your ultimate goal (with perhaps the exception of Dark Patterns, user interfaces which are designed to trick people); businesses need to make money and conversions generate revenue. It's obvious that these firms want you to buy, like, or share as effortlessly as possible. It's why they use browser cookies to keep you logged into their network, why they store your credit card and shipping information, why they offer delightful mobile experiences and single click checkouts. It is clear that the vast majority product and/or service providers purposefully deploy design online in a way that primes them for system 1 thinking; in many cases their entire business model depends on it. Thus it shouldn't come as a surprise that the dominate design discourse is one of ease of use (i.e. ease of conversion) because the discourse itself is being predominately driven by the product and/or service providers themselves. From a public administration perspective, this is inherently problematic for a couple of reasons:
  • Private sector product and/or service leaders set digital experience expectations for citizens in the public domain
  • Governments follow private sector leaders and design accordingly, hoping to meet citizen expectations
  • Ease of use (system 1: fast thinking) may be congruent with some of governments objectives (e.g. reach and amplification) but not others (e.g. deliberate feedback on crunchy policy issues) which may require a more conscious effort (system 2: slow thinking)
Essentially my point here is a little bit of Marshall McLuhan's the medium is the message and/or if you prefer we shape the tools then the tools shape us.  In other words, if we use fast tools tools for online consultations then we ought to expect loose answers. Despite what anyone else will tell you Twitter is not a good medium for in-depth, meaningful, and sustained conversation. Sure it can be bent to suit that purpose from time to time but it certainly wasn't designed for it. Twitter chats are a great example of fast rather than slow thinking, the medium (Twitter) shapes the message. Participants have to be brief, reactive, and quick if they are to be a part of the conversation as it happens.

Second, let's look at language of participation

I recently read an interesting and related piece in the Atlantic entitled "The Decay of Twitter" that made a number of related arguments (as is worth reading in its entirety). The article discusses the work of Walter Ong (a student of the aforementioned McLuhan and his scholarly work on "the transition of human society from orality to literacy: "from sharing stories and ideas through spoken language alone, to sharing them through writing, text and printed media". Ong's work catalogued the differences between these two cultures. Noting that orality treats words as sound and action, emphasizes memory and redundancy and stays close to the real life experience while literacy treats words as something that can be looked up, abstracted, and analyzed. Ong's work perfectly illustrates how online communications channels such as Twitter shape the nature of the discourse that happen there on.

As a starting point I would argue that the differences between Ong's conceptualization of orality and literacy are congruent with the differences between Kahneman's fast and slow systems; and the similarities between their analytical frames, apparent. The article goes on to discuss at length the idea that the decay of Twitter has a lot to do with the notion that it blurs the distinction between orality and literacy and thus blends the lightweight nature of ephemeral conversation with the permanence of the declarative/analyzable nature of the Internet.

This blending is where all the faux-societal outrage comes from. Its why a single errant tweet can sink a brand, destroy a career, or make the entire Internet mad for the day:
"In other words, on Twitter, people say things that they think of as ephemeral and chatty. Their utterances are then treated as unequivocal political statements by people outside the conversation. Because there’s a kind of sensationalistic value in interpreting someone’s chattiness in partisan terms, tweets “are taken up as magnum opi to be leapt upon and eviscerated, not only by ideological opponents or threatened employers but by in-network peers.” Anthropologists who study digital spaces have diagnosed that a common problem of online communication is “context collapse.” This plays with the oral-literate distinction: When you speak face-to-face, you’re always judging what you’re saying by the reaction of the person you’re speaking to. But when you write (or make a video or a podcast) online, what you’re saying can go anywhere, get read by anyone, and suddenly your words are finding audiences you never imagined you were speaking to."
The article goes on to argue that not just that conceptions of orality and literacy are blending online, but also that the public and private blend, the personal and professional, and the subjective and the objective -- to which I would add Kahneman's the fast and the slow. This becomes especially troubling when we realize that the communications technologies we rely on for engagement and consultation are actively creating a disconnect between the what people say and how it is ultimately interpreted or understood (e.g. context collapse).

Third, let's look at the politics of participation

There was a lot of coverage on the confluence of Brexit and the social media ecoystem. It was an inflection point about how much ought we trust algorithms to decide what make it into our information diet. The Guardian ran a particularly interesting piece entitled The truth about Brexit didn’t stand a chance in the online bubble which argued that in the current media landscape the burden of being thoughtful and seeking out opposing views on particular political issue (in this case Brexit) falls predominately on consumers rather than producers of media and/or social networks. It opens:
"In the quaint steam age of Mark Twain it was the case, as the writer allegedly noted, that: “A lie can travel halfway round the world while the truth is putting on its shoes”. Owing to significant changes in the media landscape since 1900, the same lie can now circumnavigate the globe, get a million followers on Snapchat and reverse 60 years of political progress while the truth is snoozing in a Xanax-induced coma, eyeshade on, earplugs in.

Modern truth is not just outpaced by fiction, it can be bypassed altogether as part of a sound political strategy or as a central requirement of a media business plan. In an illuminating exchange with the Guardian last week, Arron Banks, the wealthy donor partly responsible for the Brexit campaign, explained leave’s media strategy thus: “The remain campaign featured fact, fact, fact, fact, fact. It just doesn’t work. You have got to connect with people emotionally. It’s the Trump success."
Again, this is classic fast/slow, orality/literacy playing out online. Success in the the political realm -- in the case of Trump and Brexit -- isn't about being slow or literate (or factually correct) it is about being fast and oral (or sensational). The article continues:
"Politics however is just exploiting an information ecosystem designed for the dissemination of material which gives us feelings rather than information."
And concludes:

"If we tolerate a political system which abandons facts and a media ecosystem which does not filter for truth, then this places a heavy burden on “users” to actively gather and interrogate information from all sides - to understand how they might be affected by the consequences of actions, and to know the origin of information and the integrity of the channels through which it reaches them."
It is clear that the media landscape currently favours fast/oral and thus hyper-partisanship over thoughtful discourse. Expecting citizens to exert more control over their media environment and actively slow themselves down in this environment is unrealistic. Anyone who has ever read the comments on an Ottawa Citizen piece about the government (regardless of political stripe) knows this to be true.

Fourth, let's look at the broader implications of this type of engagement on society

What if being reliant on technologies that prime the wrong system, falling victim to the hybridization of oralilty and literacy online, and the political exploitation of both, is only half the challenge? The half immediately in front of us. What if the net result of those two things coming together has a broader and longer-term impact on society? What if it is eroding the very idea of civic participation by over-simplifying the complex task of participating in governance. To wit -- from In the Clutches of Algorithms (also worth reading in full):
"Apple, with a reputation for simplifying large technological problems, making them manageable for most people. In other words, the company’s software masks the complexity of a task. But rather than helping us understand the task, this kind of simplification helps us ignore the task and instead understand the device. I now communicate with my phone as a surrogate for adjusting the temperature and flipping light switches. Modern living now applies the same obedience principle too often seen in classrooms: Our devices now teach us not how to do things but rather how to comply with their interfaces. We are, as Seymour Papert warns, not programming the machines, but instead being programmed by them." 
If you apply the same logic to governance as applied to Apple above, then the question becomes have we allowed our pre-digital understanding of public consultation to be re-programmed (re-imagined, re-understood, re-simplified) in the digital age? And if so, what have we lost in the process and what are the long term implications of that loss on our governing institutions? Who -- if anyone -- is looking at these questions? The closest corollary I can find is Rushkoff's Program or Be Programmed which makes the case that if you don't understand how the program works than you basically beholden to it (i.e. you are being programmed by it); another logical extension of McLuhan.

Moreover, what this does is make it incredibly hard to shift the normative discourse to one that is more thoughtful and civically minded. You simply can't introduce slow issues into fast environments and expect meaningful discourse. A normative fast culture also is anathema to the very discussion of fast versus slow because in order to understand the latter you need to actively engage in it for a moment. In other words, you need to slow down to understand how slowing down could work. The fast pace of the internet is running head long into the slow pace of governance, and while speeding some things up is important (e.g. current service delivery) speeding up others could be counterproductive (e.g. designing future services) if that speed causes them to miss the mark.

Fifth, let's consider what slower, more literate online public engagement could look like

The technology has to be different. It needs to prime people for a slow/literate process rather than a fast/oral one. That means its not likely not something that is already mainstream like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. It is also likely that these companies will not be the birth place of slower more deliberative technologies.It will also need to crack the anonymity nut which exacerbates all of what I have outlined above by removing accountability and the consequences that flow therefrom (Placespeak is a good example in this regard).

The context needs to be clearly articulated. People need background information. They need white papers, videos explaining the problem, and links to additional information. Moreover, the process (and the technology) needs to nudge them into consumption and reflection before it asks solicits their input.

The questions need to be well articulated, specific, directed, and perhaps even technical and/or exclusionary. The truth of the matter is that you for any given engagement the proponent likely doesn't want everyone's input but rather a highly specific subset of it. Failing to narrow the scope of the engagement means receiving input that needs to be 'looked at' (which has a cost) but ultimately goes unconsidered.

All in all

I think the field relatively new, poorly understood, and littered with varying degrees of amateurs. There are a lot of interconnected pieces and insights from complimentary fields (I've strung together but a handful in a cursory way above) that have yet to gel. When this finally happens we will start to have a better sense of how to execute more sophisticated online public engagement, produce better outcomes, and ultimately create more public value and improve our system of governance.

Oh and in case you managed to read your way down this far -- yes, I am perfectly aware that I engaged your fast system with a click-bait title. It was deliberate and hopefully the irony wasn't lost on you.