For me one of the biggest problems with government is the feeling of suspicion and distrust. Often, policies and political approaches seem so far away from what anyone could really want, and many times it’s appearances that count when you’re talking about involvement, feeling a part of something, participation and inclusion. Isn’t it possible though that there are so many conflicts of interest, different perspectives and angles on a matter that the resulting policy put into practice may be one of the best? If we can understand and see the reasoning and influences behind decisions we can find better ways to communicate and engage politically.
I’ve started off in a very abstract way, so let’s take a specific example: the closure of a local swimming pool. It’s a good example because the replacement swimming baths I have in mind are already very popular and the upset caused by closing the original pool is already forgotten. At the time though, despite probably completely valid and well-balanced arguments for the closure, the closed-doors decision seemed dubious and dishonest simply because we were not in a position to understand it.
I don’t think it’s enough to address the lack of influence or power of certain stakeholders or end-users (people who’d like access to a service etc.) There should be a means to express an individual’s thoughts on factors with weighting on decisions which a simple transparency through open government fails to resolve. Can that be incorporated into the principle of open government?