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 the founder of VotersUnited.Global decided to run for elective office in the U.S. in a state municipal 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 the parties, rather than voters, call the shots in municipal elections and most other elections. They control official ballot lines and who can run on them.
Typically, electoral candidates themselves, American citizens, and voters themselves, do not play as influential roles as parties play in determining the outcomes of elections. Party officials set party platforms, and usually decide who can run on party ballot lines. Party candidates can set their own legislative agendas provided they conform to party platforms. They typically solicit campaign contributions from the same special interests that support the party.
In a subsequent federal election after our founder's initial run for elective office, she tried but failed to convey her legislative priorities to a U.S. presidential candidate whose bid she first endorsed. She was concerned when he switched his initial priorities from those she supported to those that conformed to the priorities of special interests from whom he was soliciting campaign funds.
This experience convinced her that political parties can actually undermine voters' rights and the exercise of the political sovereignty granted voters by the U.S. Constitution. U.S. voters, not parties, should be the determining players in elections, including setting legislative priorities and agendas. They should be able to determine which candidates are on the ballot, instead of being compelled by two political parties that monopolize control of electoral machinery to vote in "No Choice" elections and "choose" between candidates who are already on the ballot and who will have the final say in what laws are enacted or rejected.
Such limitations of voting rights have serious repercussions, in terms of creating gaps and disconnects between voters' needs and demands, and the legislation enacted by their elected "representatives". This willful limitation of the scope of voters' electoral participation is exemplified by legislative failures to protect and promote the general welfare, for example, by recent failures of U.S. lawmakers to enact early and effective measures to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 global pandemic. As a result, the U.S. has one of the highest death rates per capita of industrialized nations.
While these government-caused tragedies are occurring, the same lawmakers, parties, and special interests causing them continue supporting policies that dramatically increase inequality of wealth, and deny access to basic necessities on the part of tens of millions of Americans, many of whom lack affordable healthcare.
Imposing greater party control over elections than voters' control of elections is facilitated by a host of additional undemocratic levers that enable lawmakers representing a minority of voters to gain control of legislative bodies, including the following:
Two serious consequences have result from the undermining of democratic electoral and legislative processes described above. One is that by the dawn of the 21st century, a majority of U.S. voters have loss trust in the nation's lawmakers and come to the conclusion their actions and inactions are causing the country to be headed in the wrong direction.
They blame both major parties and nearly half of all registered voters refuse to register in either party. More voters now register as Independents, compared to voters who register in either of the two major parties.
Another serious consequence of the undermining of democratic electoral and legislative processes is the electoral disempowerment of mainstream voters who favor compromise across the partisan lines created by the two major parties -- especially to prevent the legislative stalemates the two parties create as they compete with each other to increase their influence.
Decades of research show that mainstream U.S. voters tend to hold “centrist” legislative priorities, and prefer compromise to resolve divergent views and priorities--especially to prevent legislative stalemates that prevent the passage of needed legislation.
However, mainstream voters’ exercise of their popular sovereignty is weakened when partisan electoral candidates and lawmakers are elected to legislative bodies who do not represent a majority of mainstream voters, but instead enact legislation demanded by political partisans who represent a minority of eligible voters and the population at large.
Academic research indicates the issue stances and legislative priorities of mainstream voters tend towards “the center” of the political spectrum. Their “centrist” views diverge from those of partisan electoral candidates, incumbent lawmakers, political party activists, and donors, whose priorities tend towards the “right” and “left” of the political spectrum.
While the views of activists on both ends of this spectrum are more likely to be polarized, those of mainstream voters are not, a discrepancy that dates back to the 1970s. (See Maisel (2007), American Political Parties and Elections: A Very Short Introduction; and Fiorina (2017), Unstable Majorities: Polarization, Party Sorting, and Political Stalemate
These long-standing discrepancies in legislative priorities between mainstream voters, on the one hand, and political parties, party activists, and party-affiliated lawmakers, on the other hand, are reflected in voters’ reported perceptions that elected representatives do not represent them.
The Pew Center reported in 2014 that despite the increasingly polarized wings of the two major political parties, the majority remains in the center. (See The Political Typology: Beyond Red vs. Blue).
Immediately following the 2018 U.S. mid-term elections, half of registered voters expressed the view that the newly elected Congress did not represent their views, including Democrats, Independents and Republicans. (See Edwards-Levy (2018), Most Americans Don’t Feel Well-Represented By Congress.)
The views of voters surveyed in 2018 are similar to those of mainstream U.S. voters collected for several decades. Research conducted by the Pew Research Center between 1987 and 2007 showed that Americans have felt increasingly estranged from government, and do not think their elected representatives care what they think. These feelings exist among voters belonging to the two main U.S. political parties, as well as those registered as independents. (See Trends in Political Values and Core Attitudes: 1987-2007.)
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. They lead 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 uninhabitable so many regions, large and small, 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. Piecemeal and in combination, they may lack the a system-changing potential.
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 party-backed lawmakers. This is especially true with respect to the U.S. government with its complicated separation of powers into three branches whose respective actions are often ill-coordinated and contradictory; intricate webs of complex federal/state relationships; and constant intervention by U.S. political parties and special interests to alter distributions of influence among various groups of voters.
These "good government" solutions also fail to circumvent the recognized, well-documented tendency of members of many groups, especially politically-oriented groups, to “go to extremes” in opposing other groups with whom they disagree. (See, for example, Harvard Professor Cass Sunstein (2009), Going to Extremes: Sunstein’s Take On How Like Minds Unite and Divide.). The positions they adopt can be based on lack of dialogue, inaccurate and biased information, deliberately contrived falsehoods, and courses of actions that can polarize and even negatively impact the well-being of others. This conflict-producing tendency is particularly evident on the part of groups participating in electoral and legislative processes. It can lead to legislative paralysis even in dire emergencies, particularly when opposing, hyper-partisan and uncompromising groups are competing with each other for influence and control of legislative bodies.
They also hinder social progress based on evolutionary transformations of social norms and human interactional capabilities that foster cooperative social interaction. According to academicians, such as University of California/Berkeley Professor Dacher Keltner, these norms and capabilities favor greater egalitarianism, cooperation, consensus building, and “bottom-up” power-sharing. (See Keltner (2015), Survival of the Kindest - YouTube.)
From infancy through adulthood, according to Keltner, self-determining individuals in egalitarian groups are more likely to cooperate, build consensus, share power and reduce inequities, rather than compete with each other, spawn conflicts and divisive factions, concentrate power, and exacerbate inequities -- the "going to extremes" behavior patterns and tendencies that typify many political parties’ modus operandi. (See Keltner (2016), The Power Paradox: The Promise and Peril of 21st Century Power’ | Talks at Google - YouTube.)
21st Century Consensus Building Technology
To counteract these retrograde tendencies, and respond to voters' urgent need for concerted, governmental collaboration to respond to the life-threatening risks they are facing, our founder has created a voter empowering, consensus building platform, the Global Social Network for Voters, accessible via Voters United.Global. It combines state-of-the-art technologies that empower voters to democratically expand the scope of their electoral participation, and increase their capabilities to determine who runs for office, who gets elected, and what laws are passed. In the U.S., it enables voters to collectively oversee and guide legislative bodies and lawmakers at federal, state, and local levels.
Significantly, it recognizes the key role played by mainstream voters' legislative priorities are more centrist and convergent than those of political party activists and donors, which that tend towards right and left extremes, according to extensive research.
The network empowers voters worldwide to increase the responsiveness of political parties to their legislative priorities, needs and demands by creating and managing their own political parties! They will be able to use their parties, and accompanying voting blocs and electoral coalitions, to decide who runs for office, who gets elected, and what laws are passed.
Unlike traditional political parties, voters will be able to devise their own rules for managing their blocs, parties, and coalitions hosted on the system. If any of their members disagree with the rules they set or aspects of their operational practices, the priorities they specify, or the candidates they select, dissatisfied voters can seek to change them by scheduling online votes for their membership using the network's online voting utility. If unsuccessful in winning enough votes to change the rules, these dissatisfied voters can exit unresponsive blocs, parties and coalitions to create their own, or join others already in existence on the network.
This network provides voters decision-assisting Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) tools and services that use computers to augment human intelligence and collective problem-solving capabilities, through unique online agenda-setting, consensus-building, and political organizing tools.
The networks technologies enable voters to circumvent undemocratic parties entirely. They can use AI/ML-based 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 political 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 against their candidates.
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 resort to illegal and excessive use of force for routine policing matters and mental health emergencies, 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 that they can mandate to 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, it is nonetheless imperative that everyone eligible to vote is able to register to vote without the interference of artificial obstacles.
It's a Choice, not Chance
Deal Yourself a Winning Hand!
Voters will be able to familiarize themselves with the Global Social Network for Voters and increase their know-how for using its tools and services in actual elections, by playing a multiparty online game of electoral strategy, the Citizens Winning Hands Game. The game will be accessible on the VotersUnited.Global website.