The FIXIT Fact Sheet

Restoring Functionality to American Politics and Government

First a Few Definitions...

We think of Civic Media as any non-artisan and non-ideological use of a medium or group of media that invites and enables all members of a community to participate in a) defining and solving problems of concern to a community and b) discovering and realizing of opportunities that will most benefit the community. This definition of Civic Media as a non-partisan undertaking stands in contrast with the definition of Civic Media advanced at the MIT Civic Media Center, whose Director, Ethan Zuckerman - at 1:57 of this clip - defines Civic Media not from the standpoint that concerns us - the of the owners and general managers and publishers of media - but from that of individual (and group) users of media, particularly user-created online and social media. Zuckerman thus defines Civic Media as "media that people make and disseminate as a way of trying to make social or political change." All well and good. But this definition overlooks the civic uses that concern us: the civic uses to which public, community and corporate (mainstream) media may be put.

FIXIT, as described at our Medium post about solving violence in Chicago, is our generic name for the great game of voter-driven representative democracy as played in rule-governed, media-based competitions for best solutions to a given problem. FIXIT invites and enable all members of a community to participate in examining, improving and finally voting on solutions that are developed by competing small teams of talented problem solvers. Solutions developed by these teams undergo extensive vetting and public discussion over a period of months. The process of public discussion and community voting is facilitated and regulated by a combination of citywide telecasts and text voting similar to that which has been perfected on reality TV shows like American Idol and The Voice. Winning solutions, having earned the support of citizens and public officials alike, can either been implemented on the spot or, when appropriate, can be submitted to elected officials for their final consideration and possible implementation.

FIXIT is also our non-proprietary brand name for a reality TV show whose audience is a community of any size: local, state, national or international. The FIXIT concept is scalable to meet the needs of local, state and national communities. The name is public domain. There can be a Los Angeles FIXIT and a Chicago FIXIT, an Illinois FIXIT and a Portland FIXIT, an American FIXIT and a Sweden FIXIT or, finally, a Global FIXIT. The FIXIT name is public domain. Chicago Civic Media produces FIXIT shows its own, yet at the same time we welcome other producers to use the FIXIT brand name. To stimulate the growth of civic media nationwide. we're making many FIXIT rules and procedures available to anyone who wants to use them. We've given away everything but the Secret Sauce that makes Chicago Civic Media productions uniquely responsive to the needs and strengths of a given community.

The Problem: How to De-Polarize American Politics?

While it's occurring in all cities and all states, this division most visible at the national level. Call it what you will – fake news, elite media, or a handful of billionaires usurping control of American politics – America’s political media, and the electorate as well, have been split into warring camps, left and right, pro-Trump and anti-Trump. This divisive process preceded the election of president Trump by decades. It began with the advent of network TV in the 1960's and the rise of televised election-time political attack ads that now, underwritten by the billions of dollars coming from the so-called political donor class, skew and determine election outcomes at all levels of government. In the process, Americans in our view have not only lost access as a people to the deliberative processes but have also been denied access to the information they need in order to make informed political decisions. American democracy, in our view, is now an oligarchy and is moving towards some form of autocracy or anarchy.

But guess what: that perspective is merely our view! Other perspectives on the state of American politics and political discourse may be more insightful than ours. Our job, as we see it, is to make room for all perspectives that carry weight with the American people. And it is to do so with media programming and formats that inform and empower the American people and their elected representatives to define and solve problems (and maximize opportunities) that best meet the needs of all three communities, local, state and national, of which every American is a member.

It's hardly surprising that the one issue that unites Americans today is voter dismay and disgust with the nation’s political media. What to our minds is astonishing is the fact (so far as we know) that the nation's most intelligent political observers have taken to complaining bitterly about our broken political media without giving so much as a thought to the possibility of creating a better political media. For these observers, the hyperpolarization America's political media, and of politics itself, appears to be as fixed and unalterable as the rising or setting of the sun.

The first step towards restoring a degree of unity and functionality to America's dysfunctional politics is the outright rejection of this limiting, attack-ad, citizen-disempowering mindset.

The Solution: a Non-Partisan, Citizen-Participatory, Issue-Centered, Problem-Solving Civic Media.

Chicago Civic Media took note of this polarizing mindset and rejected it several decades ago. It did so on the strength of our awareness of the experience, expertise and wisdom that ordinary citizens, when informed and empowered, can bring bear in the drive to secure the best futures of all three communities - local, state and natoinal - of which every American is a member. in an informed voice in the political and government decisions that affect their lives.

Since then, we’ve developed an array of multimedia, problem-solving political discourse formats capable of operating at local, state, national and (more recently) international levels. Our most powerful format uses the power of network TV (always supported by other media) to connect all members of a community.

  • Local. This brief Medium post introduces the Great Game as a rule-governed, voter-driven reality TV show focused on solving violence in Chicago. Learn more about Chicago FIXIT here.
  • State. In the state of Illinois, for instance, citizens and politicians can play Great Game Illinois in order to resolve the state’s debilitating financial crisis. Two posts of ours - here and here - show demonstrate the need in Illinois for citizen-participatory forms of government to break the impasse that has rendered its politics dysfunctional in the minds of virtually all observers.
  • National. Americans and their leaders can play America FIXIT to create a health care system, an immigration policy or a drug policy that best serves the American people. America FIXIT creates a level playing field for supporters and opponents alike of a given administration; it fully respects the authority and powers of the nation's leaders. To learn a lot more about it, see America's Choice, our 2006 proposal for politically-themed reality TV.
  • International. Ethan Sewall's 30-page 2017 "FIXIT Model of Global Governance" submission to the Stockholm-based Global Challenges competition shows how the global community of nations can develop and implement best solutions to shared problems like Global Warming.