Technologically, democracies are at a crossroads because the large majority of them have failed to use advanced Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to empower their constituents to fully exercise their sovereignty to determine who runs for office, who gets elected, and what laws are passed.
In fact, many democratic structures have been deliberately dismantled by a wide range of special interests that continuously "re-engineer" core democratic institutions to prevent them from serving the public interest and countermand efforts to re-democratize them. (A case in point is widespread denial of voting rights through vote suppression in the U.S.)
Politically, however, the failures of these democracies are equally consequential. They have put the planet's sustainability and humanity's survivability at risk because of their inability to effectively address life threatening problems, crises, and conflicts -- particularly those stemming from climate disruption and war.
These failures are caused primarily by the disconnect between lawmakers and their constituents, which result from the following:
- Systemic disenfranchisement of voters, including failure to bestow fundamental civil, political and human rights and the means to exercise them.
- Undemocratic elections and legislative decision making, including rigged voting and decisions lacking widespread support.
- Ineffective consensus building and conflict resolution mechanisms at domestic and international levels.
- Refusal of political parties and lawmakers to allow their constituents to play a determining role in setting their legislative agendas and overseeing their legislative actions.
- Restriction of legislative decision making to small numbers of lawmakers who do not integrate the collective intelligence of their constituents into their decision making processes.
- Special interests that use campaign contributions and other emoluments to bribe elected officials to enact legislation benefiting special interests whilst ignoring the public interest and the needs of their constituents.
- Tendency of demagogues and self-serving politicians to contrive and perpetuate political conflicts which cause legislative stalemates that prevent passage of critically needed legislation.
- Failed governance at the country level that leads to failed governance at the international level because the governments of certain countries exercise veto power over the decisions of international bodies.
- Increasing displacement of millions of people from their home communities into territories where their citizenship is not recognized, depriving them of their potential to influence elections and legislation and hold lawmakers accountable for their legislative actions.
The consequences of this technologically unnecessary disconnect between constituents and lawmakers include not only climate disruption and armed conflicts, but also inequality, injustice, economic stagnation, unemployment, job loss and deteriorating standards of living in developed countries. In developing countries, the consequences of the disconnect are leading to confrontations and clashes between governments and their indigenous populations, as well as proliferating paramilitary groups.
Voters, non-voters and displaced persons who are unable to use electoral and legislative processes to build consensus among themselves about what they want lawmakers and governments to do are increasingly expressing their dissenting views and grievances in vitriolic terms. They tend to distort each other's views and escalate tensions into seemingly irreconcilable public conflicts requiring law enforcement authorities to intervene in order to drive a wedge between warring factions and maintain order. A case in point are the recent clashes occurring in Europe regarding the influx of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa.
One far reaching undesirable consequence of these trends, which is exacerbated by the global spread of asymmetric warfare, is governmental curtailment of civil liberties around the world, including freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and privacy. These curbs are becoming an integral part of vicious circles of political confrontations and conflicts that are severely weakening democratic institutions worldwide.
Increasing dissatisfaction with unresponsive lawmakers and governments combined with lack of faith in democratic processes are also spawning a growing number of independence movements around the world, aimed at breaking away from opposed governments or toppling them through extra-legal means. These movements are being launched primarily because dissident and aggrieved groups have concluded that unresponsive governments can neither be replaced electorally nor reformed -- largely due to the numerous obstacles that have been erected to prevent them from doing so.
ICT-Enabled Political Empowerment via Direct Democracy
Needless to say, governing institutions at domestic and international levels that do not govern in the public interest, lack effective mechanisms for building consensus and resolving conflicts, and are impervious to change, are unlikely to be able to effectively address life threatening problems such as climate disruption and armed conflicts.
However, advanced web-based Information and Communications Technology (ICT) such as the Interactive Voter Choice System provides voters, non-voters and displaced persons worldwide unique capabilities to effectively and democratically manage and resolve these crises. It enables them to join forces across partisan lines to build domestic and transnational online voting blocs, political parties and electoral coalitions
around collectively set legislative agendas that can they can expand until they become large enough to win elections at any governmental level, within and across nation state boundaries.
will provide access to this unique democracy building technology, which empowers individuals across the political and ideological spectrum to gain control of elections and legislation by blending new online forms of direct democracy
with old and increasingly "unrepresentative" forms of representative democracy
. By reaching out across partisan lines to attract new members and increasing the electoral base of their blocs, parties and coalitions, they can grow large enough to replace unresponsive lawmakers and governments with elected representatives of their choice. Members of transnational
blocs, parties and coalitions who have voting rights can form domestic
blocs, parties and coalitions in their home countries to elect representatives of their choice to enact their transnational
The system will create the world's first large scale consensus building and conflict resolution platform by providing patented legislative agenda setting, political organizing and consensus building tools
that voters can use to circumvent and transform divisive political parties, special interests, and undemocratic legislative bodies that currently make decisions for millions of people while ignoring their needs and excluding them from their decision making processes.
Most importantly, this unique technology enables people around the world to join forces to collectively devise and implement legislative solutions to the life-threatening problems, crises and conflicts that are now putting the planet's sustainability and humanity's survivability at risk. Mainstream voters, non-voters and displaced persons can join forces around the world, via a single website, to create transnational blocs, parties and coalitions around common agendas that are capable of growing large enough to acquire the political leverage they need to implement their agendas at international, regional, cross national, national and local levels.
Here's a description of how the Interactive Voter Choice System accessible on reinventdemocracy.net will facilitate ICT-enabled political empowerment:
- Individual users set legislative agendas and connect online with users with similar agendas.
- They form online voting blocs, political parties, and electoral coalitions around collectively negotiated legislative agendas that cross partisan and ideological lines.
- Blocs, parties, and coalitions put common slates of candidates on the ballot in venues of their choice and plan and implement get-out-the-vote campaigns to elect them.
- They pressure lawmakers to enact their agendas by conducting online referendums, petition drives, and straw recall votes and publicly publishing their results online for lawmakers and all their constituents to read.
- Block, party and coalition members can vote to defeat lawmakers who have failed to exert their best efforts to enact their agendas.
This "people-powered" technology for re-inventing democracy is unique because it provides an online "political space" where anyone anywhere can express their views of what they want lawmakers and governments to do. Instead of feeling threatened, fearful, angry, and powerless, everyone everywhere -- voters, non-voters and displaced persons -- will be able to join forces to use the Interactive Voter Choice System to empower themselves collectively and politically wherever they live.
They can discuss, debate and strive to reconcile their views with any individuals and groups they wish -- across partisan, ideological, cultural and ethnic divides. They can collectively decide what legislation is needed to ensure that everyone's basic needs are met and threats to their well being are effectively countered -- and then work together to elect lawmakers of their choice who will enact their priorities into law.
Instead of protests, confrontations and extra-legal actions to topple unresponsive governments, the system contains a built-in incentive motivating people to reconcile their differences and grievances and incorporate their common priorities into common agendas-- even if their experience with authentic democratic elections is limited. They can collectively set transpartisan
legislative agendas and forge transpartisan
electoral bases large enough to decide who runs for office, who gets elected, and what laws are passed. Blocs, parties and coalitions whose members are unwilling to compromise will remain too small to win elections. Compromise is the key to electoral success. Refusal to compromise will result in electoral failure.
Electoral victories that stem from compromise and consensus building by voters and non-voters will set the stage for legislative victories that are also based on compromise and consensus building. For lawmakers' actions will be driven by written legislative agendas that are consensually set by their constituents by whatever compromises lawmakers and their constituents determine must be made at the legislative level to build the consensus needed by the members of the legislative body to enact legislation.
This bottom up democratization of governing institutions by self-organizing, inter-connected, voter controlled voting blocs, political parties, and electoral coalitions will bring together voters, non-voters and displaced persons around the world to devise and legislatively enact their own agendas and solutions to any issues they wish.
Thanks to Information and Communications Technology (ICT) such as the Interactive Voter Choice System, their spontaneous re-configuration of existing governing institutions will ensure that these institutions are democratically controlled by transpartisan, transnational networks of consensus building blocs, political parties and coalitions.
This ICT-enabled transformation will re-invent democracy in the near term without long term and possibly fruitless efforts to reform the myriads of malfunctioning governing institutions that are currently proving incapable of resolving global life threatening problems, crises and conflicts, such as those that are jeopardizing the planet's sustainability and humanity's survivability.
ICT will make it possible for voters to blend direct democracy into representative democracy and use this transformation to move failing democratic institutions beyond the crossroads at which they are now stalled into a new 21st century era of modern self-government in which government is truly run by and for the people.
For more information about the vital role that reinventdemocracy.net and its democracy building technology can play in resolving the current crises afflicting the Middle East, North Africa and Europe, see How the Web Can Stop Middle East Violence and the Spread of Asymmetric Warfare