My Plan to Breathe Life Back into our Dying Democracies and Integrity Back into the Poisoned Body of Politics

A fire keeps being stoked…

Recently, I read an incisive interview with Micah White, one of the co-creators of the Occupy movement. It was about how the old ways of protest (gathering in the streets and signing online petitions, mainly) have long ceased to be effective in bringing social change, even when millions gather or sign something. He advocates through his new book, The End of Protest, for a more vital and emotionally impactful movement to emerge collectively and spontaneously. Much like the intelligent and humane observations and passionate calls for radical revolution from the likes of Chris Hedges, I am left with more of a fire stoking within me.
I have an idea for social change that I have not seen expressed elsewhere.

Yet who am I to…?

Yet, who am I to propose this simple yet possibly bold suggestion?
Not being a big activist nor in politics, I have instead poured my life into working with communities, groups and families in crisis. There are many analogies to the current state of corruption and unbalance of power in politics to family dynamics that I see — as well as – to some simple and potent solutions, which have been around for some time.
I want to share with you one such possible solution, that has been burning in my mind for quite some time. It feels so simple and yet so radical and full of perils. Yet, I think it could work. When I have shared it with others, there is understanding, hope and also skepticism: “Good idea, but, can it be done?”. But such are reactions to past ideas that led us on a collective step forward to progress, no?
I want to share it with you in hopes that it may inspire or affirm what you may be doing on a personal level and to also unite us and more people working together for a better reality.

The simple idea…

Imagine if we created an “INTEGRITY” party and/or brand. Any politician who runs under this banner or carries the brand makes a legally binding contract that basically ensures if they are elected as a rep., they must vote according to the will of the majority of votes cast by their constituents — on individual bills put before him or her.
Here’s the key part:  if they do not, their position as a representative of the constituents is revoked, their vote is taken away and they are fired and also heavily fined immediately.

Why hold politicians accountable?

It may seem like an obvious assumption or a radical idea – given that we are so used to seeing corrupt politicians get away with stealing billions and harming millions.
My simple answer is because this is the social contract on which all of democracy is based. That the people we elect actually represent us.
Our current system — argued by many and shown by fair minded researchers — is so far corrupted that it ceases to pass the definition of a democracy. They say that we live in a oligarchy instead.

Why Politicians – honest ones – would love this and thrive…

Holding the representative fully and immediately (not 4 years later – if ever) accountable in effect ensures accountability and democratic integrity. It also liberates politicians from the grip of party control and motivates them to do what they do best – try to influence others through argument and presentation to sway the majority towards their own will.

The hard part…

Of course, for this to work, there needs to be an online INTEGRITY HUB: info centre, forum, and secure voting site. This site needs to have a wiki-like mass organized space for info sharing and centralization, so whenever a new bill/law is going to voted on, a variety of perspectives and facts get summarized and verified for the voting constituents. Also, the politician voted into representational power gets to express (along with constituents) point of views and arguments and voters get notified of updates and voting deadlines. The voting process absolutely needs to be secured and not able to be corrupted.

The potential pitfalls and loopholes are…

  1. Certainly powers that wish to hold onto absolute power will try — as they always do — to corrupt, delegitimize, and/or sway potential voters away from this or any genuinely democratizing option.

RESPONSE: However, people want more influence and power and so once they see how it works and that gives them more of a voice, I think there will be quite a lot of natural energy to be vigilant and responsive to these external corruptive attempts. 

2. Legal loopholes to allow corruption may continue: ei, judges may rule against firing politicians who break the contract.

RESPONSE: We need lawyers and a tight legal frame around the contract to ensure this basic social contract is not allowed to be broken without a strong enough consequence. 

3. A left-wing concern I hear often about is the fear of “the mob mentality will rule” – voting for what is “bad for the commons”.

RESPONSE: I imagine that you and I and many people have seen and come to trust that the group wisdom (when everyone’s view is heard and valued) is infinitely more just and fair than some “benevolent” rep’s. To be fair, and pragmatic, it does happen that mob rule makes bad decisions (especially where tribal conflicts — ie racism are encouraged with majorities who oppress minorities) My response is that the only way to evolve a group of people is to give them the power to make decisions — even bad ones —  challenge them to listen to the others sides and in the end let them feel the weight of responsibility when they do pass a law. At the moment, people don’t feel any weight as they feel their vote has no power.  This system would also allow for people to excercise power through democracy more often so new laws could be drafted collectively and/or amendments to laws that need changing could happen more swiftly if the group is moved to do so. 

5. Right-wing concern: this will cost too much.

RESPONSE: I imagine that cost wise, the technology is out there and within reach for a price that is low compared to the incredible waste of our current corrupt systems and the great benefits of a vibrant democracy with more citizen engagement. 

So, what do you think?

What do you think about this vision?
Does it flow with your understanding of what is needed or I am going far away from your vision of change?
I am just one guy. I seek co-creators and collaborators to realize this or some solution like this that will make a real and sustainable impact on the political system. Politics are the living body of our collective. Democracy is not perfect but the best system we have thus far found to put into practice.
Thanks for taking the time to read this.
Please share your thoughts – with respect — below…
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2 thoughts on “My Plan to Breathe Life Back into our Dying Democracies and Integrity Back into the Poisoned Body of Politics

  1. Hi Dave,
    Thanks for addressing what seems to be missing from our democracy and what we’d like to see represented. I think you can create an app that has all the promises a politician makes and a place where people can check off what’s been done, what hasn’t been done, or if the complete opposite happened. Politicians can have their own log in the app too for people to follow. I wonder if there’s already an app like that out there?

    Cheers,
    Donna

  2. David, I like your ideas here. Incl:

    Integrity banner & brand: sure.

    Holding elected representatives accountable: yes!

    Centralized list, notification & discussion & interactn on bills being voted on: awesome.

    I like the legal framework around the social contract.

    And the speed with which laws or bills could be collectively drafted, &/or amended.

    Questions:

    1. Does it need to be a whole new party, or can it be something that exists overlapping along w current party system?

    2. How is it decided if the way they voted didnt represent constituents?

    * Some may state that those without internet access gave alternate feedback, or others provided private confidential feedback, that is contrary to majority vote.

    3. If security method is by IP address used, combined w login ID per eligible voter, what prevents one from going to library or net cafe, and creating another ID to make more than 1 vote on an issue? Does every voter get a login ID & p/w, to reduce attempts @ fraud?

    4. Accessibility options on website (large print, audio, etc.), & translations for those who are ESL, would I think need to be accommodated.

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