I founded The People Speak to fight for higher standards of campaigning that lift us beyond the dehumanized and abusive way that candidates for public office are being treated today.  The People Speak seeks to humanize political campaigns in a way that sets us free to have more authentic and creative conversations during campaign seasons.

In the spring of 2013, California syndicated columnist Dan Walters, of the prestigious Sacramento Bee newspaper, vented his disgust with the closing weeks of the 2013 race for mayor of Los Angeles by writing the following:

“The duel between City Councilman Eric Garcetti and City Controller Wendy Greuel has to be California’s most vapid, off-putting political contest. You couldn’t slip a toothpick between the two in ideology – two more or less liberal, more or less business-friendly, more or less union-allied politicos.

Nevertheless, they’ve spent millions of dollars, most of which have paid for mindless personal attacks accusing each other of being a mayoral disaster waiting to happen because of some defect of character.” Link To Article

It’s the same everywhere. In my home town of San Jose, California, the 10th largest city in the nation and the self-styled “Capitol of Silicon Valley”, local political campaigns have been ugly for a very long time.  At an August 2013 monthly luncheon of the Democratic 21st Century Club in San Jose-Silicon Valley, keynote speaker and noted local commentator Terry Christensen predicted that the 2014 San Jose mayoral race “is going to be quite a brawl.”  He was saying what the civic community and local media already know.

Political campaigns have become the killing fields of democracy.  Candidates for public office are routinely pulled into a chamber of horrors where they and their family, friends, and loved ones are made to suffer from the sheer cruelty, distortion, and unfairness of campaign attacks.

It’s as if we the people have no power to stop the political violence.  Until now.

The People Speak represents the birth of a new citizen movement in San Jose-Silicon Valley and in our country.  The People Speak is a civic initiative to uplift democracy by compelling higher standards of campaigning using a voter-based strategy of “Rewards and Consequences.”

In the San Jose-Silicon Valley region, as in other metropolitan areas, labor leaders and business leaders are the titans of the political arena, constantly in adversarial face-offs that range from public policy debates and confrontations, to scorched-earth political warfare in the trenches.

I believe, though, that business and labor leaders are idealists at heart who are caught in a bind along with everyone else when it comes to political campaigns.  I believe that once a way is made for people to get out of this chamber of horrors, that they will align with the community and collaborate to change the rules of the game – if it’s demonstrated to be possible to compel and uphold higher standards of campaigning for everyone.

The payoff will be palpable. What business and labor leaders have at the end of the day is the power of their ideas, and that’s where democracy flourishes, in a free marketplace of ideas.

The People Speak is like a “Noah’s Ark” project and a “Field of Dreams” project – a fantastical effort to uplift democracy and infuse more integrity into the public process.  I am not minimizing the challenges to achieving success with the goals of The People Speak, but I am saying that if we the people have the will, it can be done.

In the Field of Dreams movie, the creative principle was, “If you build it, they will come.”  For The People Speak, the creative principle is, “If the people gather together, the resources will come.”

When hundreds and then thousands of voters lend their names in support of this bold civic initiative, The People Speak will surely magnetize all the resources it needs to carry out its transformational mission in our democracy.

Take your action now and add your name to the cause of The People Speak today.  Sign up here.

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About J. Manuel Herrera

J. Manuel Herrera, a Silicon Valley elected official, envisions the transformation of the public square in our communities and an emerging 21st century politics that is whole, generative, and personally transformative (jmanuelherrera.net). Manuel writes and speaks about integrating principles of the spiritual quest with public leadership, politics, and the public process ("The Reconciliation of Love & Power").

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