California’s lieutenant governor says that taxpayers have more power to become leaders and mobilize others than he does in his current position.

Last month, California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom visited the University of California, Berkeley campus as a keynote speaker for the event, Can Open Data Improve Democratic Governance?, hosted by the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society and the Institute of Governmental Studies.

The key topic of his speech was how modern technology enhances citizens’ ability to engage in  democracy, start their own movements and advance their own agendas more easily than they could have before. He spoke on the topic briefly with Government Technology in the final episode of our video series with him.

“Individuals have the capacities of states. They have the capacities of big corporations now. The power is being decentralized to the individual,” he said. “This idea of leadership, it’s not about a leader; it’s about leaders.”

The growing power of the individual taxpayer is a subject in his book Citizenville, where Newsom argues that technology enables people to take action more easily than they could before. For example, open data allows them to view and analyze information, and they can use common social media tools to broadcast and crowdsource ideas and mobilize supporters.

This could help change the traditional ways that governments and businesses operate--methods that aren’t always conducive to progress.

“It is a cartel. It’s a monopoly of sorts. Everyone’s sort of carved up their piece. We’re iterating old systems, old models, and frankly, the taxpayers are being fleeced,” Newsom said.

He feels that this new paradigm gives them more influence than he has as lieutenant governor.

“I don’t have the levers as lieutenant governor that frankly, the public has as citizens that can be more proactive and participatory in demanding something radically different,” he said.

Hilton Collins, Staff Writer
Hilton Collins  |  GT Staff Writer

By day, Hilton Collins is a staff writer for Government Technology and Emergency Management magazines who covers sustainability, cybersecurity and disaster management issues. By night, he’s a sci-fi/fantasy fanatic, and if he had to choose between comic books, movies, TV shows and novels, he’d have a brain aneurysm. He can be reached at hcollins@govtech.com and on @hiltoncollins on Twitter.