We’ve got this quaint Village Square-ism called “68% solutions” which I’m about to let you in on. 68% solutions refers to problem solving that works to widen consensus. We contrast this idea with the trend toward 51% politics, which seeks only the barest majority to act and relies on tactical strong-arming to get it. Once you’ve got the 51%, it’s winner-take-all. America’s all about 51% politics these days and we operate in an entirely different civic environment than our grandparents did because of it.
Our crazy number is derived from the theoretical 68.2% of a population within one standard deviation of the mean. This approach considers the more challenging engagement between the political left and right critical to creating intelligent solutions. We even made our memberships $68 to drive home the point.
Back in the day, we might have called this statesmanship. When elected, partisan politicians were expected to work with their political foes to govern. They were expected to at least make a showing of representing citizens who didn’t vote for them. Today if you didn’t vote for the winning politician, after they’re elected they just give you the finger.
The primary concept behind 68% solutions isn’t exactly centrism. In a vibrant civic dialogue, good solutions can and do sometimes come from the political extremes. While well – er – extreme, the fringe can be the canary in the coalmine in guarding an important idea that the rest of us just don’t notice in all of our moderation. If you slide back their volume, they may have a point of sorts. So if you’re seeking 68% solutions, the key is that you’re constructively engaged across diversity.
68% solutions aren’t about high tea and crumpets or a mushy middle of not really believing anything. A healthy civic dialog can get difficult. Chairs sometimes fly in small New England town halls of yore, but at the end of the day the person who threw the chair is still your neighbor so you’ve got to at least try hard to move on past it.
You may need sugar.
68% solutions are more aspirational and intentional than realistic. By advocating 68% solutions we are asking to at least wonder how we can widen the consensus in seeking to solve a particular problem. It’s fairly unlikely we’ll actually get to 68% consensus on much of anything. But it’s starting the journey pointed an entirely different direction.
And isn’t it high time we point another direction…