The Belief Engine (The Proof Engine)

proof engineSomeone just emailed me today and wrote that PTTN “is a terrific idea if it is handled properly.” I agree that it must be handled well. What follows is the core of my “management strategy.”  I really will welcome comments and additional suggestions. 

The “proof” of Proof Through the Night is going to be three things:  The number of active participants; the growth rate of participation; and most importantly whether or not the participants develop the ongoing habits of being adequately informed; thinking critically about the information; and taking action. So we will be measuring these things.

To get the ball rolling, in January and part of February my plan is to recruit a first wave of participants. They will have a clear mission and time-frame. They will need to make a commitment. The theme will be that they are the first wave of people fighting for their country… in this way. Starting now, I and Mark Zottola will also be recruiting a program team. Their primary mission is to remove whatever obstacles the participants are having with the program and website. Secondarily they are trying to improve the program and website in ways to make it more attractive and user-friendly. But their main job is to “walk with” the participants, periodically asking questions like:

* What is interfering with your use of the website?  What’s keeping you from learning?  What’s keeping you from having positive feelings about PTTN?  (Stage 1)

* What’s interfering with you building good political habits — taking in political information, thinking about it critically, and then taking action?  (Stage 1 and 2)

* What’s keeping you from effectively inviting others?  (or)  What keeps them from seeing the value of participation?  (or) Is anything interfering with your support of them, or their positive feelings toward the program?  (Stage 3)

We will use that information to make the program or website continuously better. If people feel they need short educational videos, we will try to create them. If something in the site is vague, we will clarify it. — But the key word is “need.”  We will never be able to make the website as thrilling as a blockbuster movie, but if people understand that they are fighting for their country, and that they will get both short-term and long-term benefits from increasing their political power, then we don’t have to have the sexiest site on the Web.

The first wave won’t move as a unit. Some people who are already politically knowledgeable will just take the quizzes and move forward. Their challenges (and ours) might be with inviting and supporting their friends and family who seem somewhat interested. By the way, if someone doesn’t succeed with family and friends, I think they can adopt new people who hear about PTTN, and these people will be their descendents, their “children” in the chain reaction. 

Someone last month suggested that I really get rolling with Facebook and social media. I think that would be a mistake. I fear having a million ‘likes’ on Facebook, and no real buy-in.  I also fear a lot of people being turned off by a 1.0 website and never coming back. 

Let’s say that 20 people start the first wave, and only eight pass it on to an average of two people each in four months. If we double from eight to 16, and 16 to 32 by the fall, and 32 to 64 by next January, that will seem feeble to many, but then all we need to do is to keep the “Proof Engine” rolling.  At that rate, we’re reach a majority of the electorate in nine years. I have a feeling that it will grow much faster than that, but I feel that we must maintain high standards. By the way, it’s not a failure at all if someone takes six or eight months, but ideally we want the turn-around at four months. 

In a way, this project is like the Manhattan Project (the chain reaction) and D-Day (the first wave hitting the beaches) rolled into one, and its also a real-life Mission Impossible (transforming American politics in ten years or less.) 

Just now my eyes got moist when I thought about just how badly millions of Americans want something like this. It’s just bewildering how important this mission is.


It’s a Real-Life Drama!

PMI3It’s almost the plot of an action-adventure movie. A nonprofit creativity team called Group Genie gives itself a political Mission Impossible: to fix American politics in ten years or less. They survey all political issues and realize that there are about a dozen structural issues that are making American politics dysfunctional and toxic. 

Then one of the “genies” makes the two-part breakthrough: 1) The most high-leverage problem was not corporate domination of elections, but the state of the American electorate. An informed, critically-thinking and active electorate would be relatively immune to propaganda, and it would address the structural issues. 2) The fastest way to create that electorate would be to spark a chain reaction of nonpartisan voter empowerment.

Starting with two people, if it keeps doubling every four months, it would spread across the electorate, reaching 140-200 million voters in 9.3 years.   

Group Genie jumps into action. First they brainstorm strategies to produce the electorate. Second, they work out what one person would need to do. [PTTN Member AgreementThird, they assemble a team to build the website. Inspired by the Star-Spangled Banner, they name it Proof Through the Night! Then they recruit the first wave of 20 participants. [We’re now recruiting! Email us at]

The participants are told, “The website has some rough edges, and needs more graphics and bells and whistles, but it’s fully operational. Your mission is to use it and give us feedback on what’s not working. Our program team will then use your feedback to keep optimizing the website and program.

“The truth of what you are doing is no less than this: You are fighting for your country. If we can get this chain reaction to roll, it will transform American politics within the decade. But long before that, you will feel optimism because you have gained political power and you will have critical thinking skills that you can use in all areas of your life. 

“We’re not saying this will be easy. Not all of you will finish this pilot test. But those who do, will probably go down in history as the first wave of participants, the ones who paved the way for wave after wave of empowered citizens. Be the change that you want for the country; so that your dedication and results will inspire others!”

When they heard about PTTN’s approach, the special interests that dominated politics thought they would just pile on more money, but they were eventually no match for citizens with anti-propaganda literacy skills. They thought they could infiltrate and discredit PTTN, but Group Genie saw that coming way back in 2007 and had planned accordingly. The power-mongers thought that state-of­the-art influence and polling techniques would win the day, but their efforts were crushed by 140 million fed-up and educated Americans.

Yes, this story would probably be a cool plot for an action-adventure blockbuster, but we think it will make an even better documentary. 

[Note: We plan to trademark or service-mark “Be the change you want for the country.”sm]


“Love Letter” Video in Production

An attractive woman stands between the columns of the Mellon Institute and looks directly into the camera, and intones, “In the long, hot summer of 1787, fifty-five men in Philadelphia wrote one of the greatest love letters the world has ever known. It began like this…

We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

The video goes on to say how this “love letter” became the foundation of a great nation, and how it became the model for more than two dozen other democracies around the world. The woman reminds us that this nation along with Great Britain and other Allies saved the world from the Nazi darkness. The video salutes President Kennedy’s one-decade vision to reach the Moon, and then presents the PTTN ten-year vision to renew the American electorate.

It ends by alluding to Lincoln’s honoring those who “gave the last full measure of devotion” and it asks those watching the video to give the NEXT full measure of devotion by self-educating politically, and then supporting others in this battle to renew politics in America.

The actress, location and equipment have been secured. A first draft of the script is completed as well.

Welcome to Proof Through the Night!

If you don’t know about our strategies, you probably think our ten-year goal to create an informed electorate is impossible. But the more you understand our strategies, the more believable it becomes. One of the most potent strategies is person-to-person support to learn and practice the essentials of political engagement. Thus, Proof Through the Night grows primarily through personal contact, between people who know each other. That way, our movement will be totally “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” That’s why we say…

WethePeople2 copyIf as a people we can reach the Moon in one decade, let’s make our next great achievement to create an informed, critically-thinking and active American electorate in one decade.

A big theme with us is that we are launching a ten-year “battle” to renew the American electorate. That why our slogan is:

fight4We believe that building a renewed electorate through a chain reaction of self-education and supporting friends to follow our lead is a very central and powerful way to fight for our country.

Visit our Strategies Page to learn about some of our winning strategies — or start with our Recommended Steps page to begin!