6e. Participatory Democracy
“Are we building in service of the people and the community, deeply rooted in social values and human rights, or are we in service of private interests, which only answer to their own internal logic of profit and power?”
“One of the protections against government corruption in democracies is that the moment of our vote is hidden and blind, made in secret in a kiosk. When an individual can use new governance technologies to summon a dashboard of her votes, might that make her more vulnerable to coercion from people who can verify whether or not she is voting the way that they want? Is anybody thinking carefully about how to get around this issue?
In our current political system, it makes sense that hidden votes are so important. But the very idea that our key moment of agency as a citizen is ticking a box every few years is the insane part. Just putting the act of voting online doesn’t actually change anything about the underlying dynamic, and I think it’s a red herring.
Instead of talking about how we’re going to prevent corruption in the digital equivalent of the same old system, can we talk about the transformative power of deliberative democracy? What’s actually incredible is when you create a society where people not only feel safe being open about their political opinions, but they genuinely discuss them with different people, and their opinion can evolve through that interaction — they can change their minds. When citizen deliberation is possible, that’s when truly amazing solutions can emerge, from synthesizing different views.
Let’s talk about direct citizen engagement, instead of electing some person that got on the ballot through a broken, convoluted process in the first place, to play a crazy politics game that has almost nothing to do with representing you, the box ticker.
Our ‘democratic’ system is another example of something developed a couple hundred years ago because of very limited communications technology — election dates in the US are still determined by how long it took people to go on horseback between cities. We can do so much better.”
In an Age of Communication we no longer need a Parliamentary Democracy. The voting system and the whole idea of a ‘representative democracy by proxy’ is an anachronism. We no longer need an archaic system by which potential parliamentary politicians have to tell us what we want to hear, in order to become our chosen representatives, to pursue their own agendas in an inept and corrupt government system.
Successive governments whether of the left or of the right have already sold our sovereignty to the highest bidder, big-business. They are supported in this by the mega-corporation owned media, education systems, health services, big energy and other industry biased services and socioeconomic structures. They exist to serve an ‘economy’ that is destroying the optimum conditions for life on earth. Our support of this economy is at the cost of our ecology, the integrity of nature we need to live.
The ‘business interest’ domination of our lives is enforced by the police, and increasingly hired security thugs, who are technically here to serve us, the people. Government acts in the interest of big business and the economy, which has become entirely contrary to the interests of sustainable and healthy life on this planet.
Already, organisations such as change.org are stepping into the breach to engage more with people as a necessary aid to a failing democracy.
“As citizens, we shape our democracies by not being silent. A healthy, vibrant democracy flourishes when people have an opportunity to debate the issues that matter to them, when our efforts to create change pay off, and our voices are heard. Only then, can we end the kind of discontent and anger driving our politics.
With our daily work at Change.org, we help strengthen our democracy by giving everyday people an opportunity to shape the world around them. We are fiercely independent and non-partisan because every person in the world having a voice is bigger than party politics. No one deserves to be powerless.
This has never been more urgent. Regardless of your political perspective it’s clear that across the world divisiveness, fear, and terror play an increasing part in our lives. People feel ignored by elites and a political class that’s out of touch.
We need to build a political system where people can more easily participate, engage with elected representatives and ultimately understand each other better. Through supporting everyday people to connect and speak up, we’ll bring about positive change. And we’ll hold the powerful accountable – whoever they may be: the politicians, corporate and cultural leaders that represent us.
Change.org’s mission is to create a world where no one is powerless. We’re just getting started, by providing a free, open, empowering platform that helps people unite on the issues they care about to create change, amplify people’s stories and transform lives.”
If you look at other online lobbying bodies such as 38degrees.org.uk, causes.com, or ipetitions.com you can see a system developing by which people can express their choices to government. At present in the UK, if a petition gets 100,000 signatures it will be considered for debate in Parliament.
It doesn’t take a genius to connect ‘referendums and online petitions’ to create a system by which people can govern themselves by direct voting. In fact you can see how this might work at voxpopgov below:
In the UK now, pretty much everyone has an identity defined by government. For example, your National Insurance number, various tax numbers to interact with gov.uk and enter income and tax liabilities. Passports and Driving Licences can be included if you have them. You probably already login to government, or have a representative who does this for you.
Parliament has an open schedule to show what is going on. It shows what votes and discussions are underway in the House of Commons, House of Lords and so on:
Parliament also has its own social media feeds on Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, Twitter and YouTube
You can even petition parliament for a response after 10,000 signatures and have your topic considered for a debate vote over 100,000 at https://www.gov.uk/petition-government
BUT: can you vote directly on an issue to get your actual voice heard?
To achieve this you will need to lobby and convince your MP who also represents on average 98,461 other people in your area, and the interests of his or her existing lobbyists.
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