Voting is a fundamental political right that preserves all rights.
U.S. Supreme Court, Yick Wo v. Hopkins (1886).
The Re-Invent Democracy Story
Our story began several decades ago when one of our founders decided to run for elective office in the U.S. in a local election, on the ballot line of one of the two major U.S. political parties. It took no time to discover that the parties and the special interests that fund them call the shots in municipal elections and most other elections by controlling officially authorized ballot lines and who can run on them. Typically, neither the candidates themselves, American citizens, or voters themselves play more determining roles than the parties controlling the ballot lines with respect to determining who is the ballot, what are their legislative agendas, and whether and if other parties are able to compete in elections.
In a subsequent election, our founder tried but failed to express and convey her legislative priorities to a U.S. presidential candidate, who changed his priorities to conform to those of special interests after they started funding his campaign. This experience convinced her that political parties can actually undermine fundamental principles of democratic representative forms of government. Voters, not parties, should be able to determine legislative priorities and agendas. They should be able to decide which candidates are on the ballot, instead of having to vote in "No Choice" elections between candidates who are already on the ballot. They should be able to fully exercise their political sovereignty by having the final say in what laws are enacted or rejected.
But this is usually not occurring in the U.S and elsewhere around the world, where wide gaps exist between voters' needs and the legislation enacted by their elected "representatives". The cause of this gap is political parties and their special interest donors that finance parties and their candidates and take effective measures to limit the scope of voters' participation and influence in elections and legislation.
She discovered that during the past two or three decades, political parties and special interests in reputedly "democratic" countries have been inserting numerous legal and illegal mechanisms into electoral and legislative processes that severely limit the scope of voters' roles and influence. Their goal has been to enable the parties, their officials, operatives and special interest donors to assume greater and greater control over legislative bodies and policy-making agencies throughout government, even while claiming to support "democratic" elections that increasingly limit voters' influence. They use this control to enact legislation favoring party and special interests at the expense of the welfare, needs and demands of voters and grassroots populations.
This willful neglect of public welfare by government authorities is exemplified by their failure to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 global pandemic, even though they have always had the means to do so. And once the pandemic began to spread, the most negligent and incompetent governments have failed to implement proven strategies to halt its spread, resulting in the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives. These losses are projected to increase exponentially the longer these governments remain in power, along with the losses they have caused by neglecting to stop climate disruption and extreme weather catastrophes.
While these government-caused tragedies are occurring, the same governments causing them are continuing policies that dramatically increase inequality of wealth and the impoverishment of millions of people who lack affordable healthcare available to the wealthy, and can no longer find affordable housing. Many of the politicians and parties that have gained control of these governments through undemocratic elections are subverting the rule of law, and corrupting electoral institutions and processes to the point of preventing people from actually casting votes and having them counted. The same officials that caused these tragedies are running for re-election on the ballot lines of the political parties that control ballot lines, and prevent other parties from having a fair chance to run candidates against them.
This cast of characters use a variety of mechanisms to gain and maintain influence, including social media. They include sending highly partisan, ambiguous, mixed messages to targeted groups of voters to mislead them into believing the parties and their incumbent office holders and candidates are pursuing the same goals as the voters receiving the messages. Since the parties, candidates and special interest donors lack the voting strength to win elections, they seek out aggrieved groups of voters whose livelihoods are at risk and disingenuously blame their difficulties on the parties' adversaries. These instigators accentuate voters grievances to rile up enough of them to create electoral bases to elect their candidates. Once in office, party-backed lawmakers largely ignore their constituents' plights and turn their attention to meeting the demands of their parties and special interest funders.
A case in point is provided by the U.S. political party system. In order to conduct "No Choice" elections, the two major U.S. parties have perfected numerous strategies and tactics for enacting and implementing a host of mechanisms for limiting the scope of voters' electoral and legislative participation and influence, including:
The consequences of the actions of political parties in the U.S. and elsewhere to limit the scope of voters participation and influence in elections and legislation include:
In light of the foregoing, it is unsurprising that starting early in the 21st century, a majority of U.S. voters have come to the conclusion the country is headed in the wrong direction. They blame both major parties, refuse to register in either party (more voters register as Independents than in either party), and have long wanted to see most lawmakers removed from the U.S. Congress, the primary federal legislative body. Unfortunately, they cannot do so because of the restrictions the parties and special interests have imposed on the scope of voters participation and influence in elections and legislation that "No Choice" elections enable party-backed elected officials are able to keep their seats in legislative bodies year after year despite lacking widespread support.
Their counter-productive impact on the resolution of political conflicts through consensus-building across partisan lines appears unalterable given the lack of mechanisms for doing so. Their competitive stances vis-a-vis each other lead to conflict generation rather than resolution, and to legislative stalemates and paralysis even when immediate action is necessary to address extreme emergencies such as the spread of Covid-19, and extreme weather that renders large areas uninhabitable, temporarily and even permanently.
The severity of this party-induced deformation of representative forms of government in the U.S. and abroad is reflected in survey research conducted by non-partisan research organizations inside and outside the U.S. They have found that "fully functioning" democracies are in serious decline and represent a small fraction of the world's populations. According to The Economist Intelligence Unit 2019, only 5.7% of the world's population resides in a “full democracy”. Forty-two percent live in 'flawed democracies'. One-third of the world’s population live under authoritarian rule. The U.S. has been found to be a "flawed democracy", and critics within the country declare it to be fundamentally "broken".
The well-intended response to democratic decline by numerous "good government" groups to these documented failings of democracy in the U.S. has been the formulation of a plethora of piecemeal reform proposals. In all likelihood, they will take years to implement, perhaps even decades. Their potential is also restricted by many drawbacks not of their own making.
A major obstacle is that highly developed, post-industrial governments, such as the U.S., comprise complex "systems" of interacting institutions and processes, including laws, constitutions, and practices that determine how elections and legislation will be conducted. Changing one or another of these components, or even many of them, is unlike to suffice to change the functioning of a government controlled by electorally unaccountable decision-makers. This is especially true with respect to the U.S. government with its complicated, structural separation of powers into three branches whose actions are often ill-coordinated; intricate webs of federal/state relationships; and constant intervention by U.S. political parties and special interests to alter distributions of influence among various groups of voters.
Given voters' urgent need for concerted, governmental collaboration to respond to the life-threatening risks they are fact, Re-Invent Democracy's founder has created a unique, voter empowerment social networking platform, a Global Social Network for Voters, accessible via Voters United.Global. It brings together state-of-the-art technologies to enable voters to obtain immediate legislative action, by expanding the scope of their participation and influence control over legislative bodies and executive policy-makers at federal, state, and local levels.
This platform enables voters to utilize decision-assisting Artificial Intelligence (AI) that augments (rather than replaces) human intelligence to create genuine, voter-controlled democracies through unique online agenda-setting, consensus-building, and political organizing tools. The platform incorporates technologies that enable voters to circumvent undemocratic parties entirely. They can use these tools to set their own legislative agendas, individually and collectively; create their own democratically managed online voting blocs, political parties, and electoral coalitions around common legislative agendas, and resolve conflicts by building consensus across partisan lines.
By reaching out across partisan lines to build consensus across the spectrum, they can forge electoral bases large enough to elect candidates of their choice -- and defeat the candidates of parties with narrowly partisan electoral bases too small to win elections.
It is literally a matter of life and death that voters worldwide be quickly empowered to control undemocratic parties, governments and lawmakers that are failing to prevent the spread and deaths caused by the Covid-19 virus, or stop preventable climate catastrophes that are leaving tens of millions of people homeless, and threatening the sustainability of life on the planet. Unique technological capabilities incorporated into the network enable voters worldwide to connect to each other across nation-state boundaries to build cross-national voting blocs, voter-controlled political parties, and electoral coalitions. They can use these unprecedented voter-controlled blocs, parties and coalitions to collectively devise and simultaneously enact common legislative solutions in their members' home countries to surmount common crises and emergencies that require cross-bordier cooperation.
Rather than wait for periodic elections, voters will be able to intervene immediately, directly, and decisively into ongoing legislative processes when domestic and international crises and emergencies affect their lives. They will be able to notify and warn ineffectual and unresponsive lawmakers that dissatisfied voters' blocs, parties, and coalitions have amassed the electoral power they need to defeat them in the next election. Voters can continuously oversee, pressure, and direct lawmakers by conducting and publishing the results of petition drives, referendums, initiatives, and straw recall votes. By so doing, they will be able to prevent party induced legislative conflicts and stalemates from threatening their lives and livelihoods -- in effect turning the table on undemocratic parties, party lawmakers and special interests that typically ignore their needs and demands.
Currently, voters who have lost faith in electoral processes to voice their demands and redress their grievances are resorting to alternatives that include street protests, demonstrations, and confrontations that may lead to confrontations with members of the law enforcement community. While most are competent, far too many use illegal and excessive use of force for routine policing matters, as well as interfere with voters' and protesters' exercise of their legitimate and constitutionally protected freedoms of assembly and speech.
The solution is for voters to defeat these lawmakers in forthcoming elections and elect a new generation of elected representatives who they can mandate to will enact laws that protect everyone from such abuses. And while elections under the current status quo of limited voter participation and influence in elections and legislation is unlikely to bring about enough change to significantly change it, nonetheless it is imperative that everyone eligible to vote does register to vote, and takes steps to circumvent as many obstacles as possible to actually vote. Those of us who do vote in election districts and states that enable democratic and even quasi-democratic elections to take place will set the stage for all districts and states to follow in our footsteps, especially when voters succeed in using VotersUnited.Global to build online voting blocs, electoral coalitions, and electoral coalitions large enough to win elections.
Voters will be able to familiarize themselves with the unique agenda-setting, consensus-building, and political organizing tools and services provided on the VotersUnited.Global website, and increase their know-how for using them in actual elections, by playing a multiparty online game of electoral strategy, the Citizens Winning Hands Game, which will also be accessible on the website.