What Real Democracy Looks Like: You at Your Laptop Making Stuff Happen

Ok, your street needs paving, and it’s been pockmarked with potholes for a while. Your air smells like sewage, so it’s time to look into your county’s wastewater treatment center. Or you need a better source of electricity in your state than you’re currently getting. So what do you do? Wait for your politician to do something about it, right?

Wrong! Because you’ll be old and gray before that happens, as we all know. But this is representative democracy at its finest. And representative democracy is really just a bunch of baloney parading around as democracy. It’s basically oligarchy – a political system where a small group of people (e.g., career politicians, the rich, the well-connected) control the government.

But aren’t we sick and tired of being sick and tired yet? Don’t we crave liberty – the liberty to walk down the street, a well-paved one or a dirt path or whatever we want, to smell the clean air, to live our lives, to be left alone? Why do we have to wait for them to decide what’s in our best interests?

We don’t. We’ve given them this power, and it’s time to #TakeItBack and implement #DirectDemocracy. Social media is all a-clamor with people voicing their political opinions, especially now in the run-up to #Election2016. But it’s time to #VoteForUs. It’s time to give our voices power.

What real democracy looks like is you at your laptop making stuff happen. Imagine no government, no politicians, no congress. You need roads built, so what do you do? Here’s my vision of how things should be:

1) Eliminate the digital divide. We all have free high-speed internet and free computers that are updated every few years. I guarantee that that’ll be a lot cheaper than paying all our politicians!

2) You log onto a national website that we could create for the purpose. It’s broken up into states, counties, and cities. It’s searchable by topic. It’s easy to use. It looks pretty.

3) You write up a summary proposal for what you want done, how, where, and when – e.g., I want a newly paved road on Main Ave. in my town by the end of the month.

4) If other citizens agree, they vote for your idea.

5) If your idea gets enough votes (however we decide what enough votes is, e.g., the top 10 or 20 or 100 vote-getting ideas that week or month in your city, county, state, or nation; or however we want to figure this out), then your idea can officially accept bids from companies to make it happen. There are plenty of crowd-sourcing apps, websites, and companies that work like this already, creating an online auction marketplace.

6) Companies bid, referencing specifics, plans, budgets, time periods, etc., and referencing their websites which list credentials, testimonials, etc. just like company websites already do.

7) People vote for the company they want to do the job. Anybody – any resident (be they a citizen or not) of the area being impacted – can vote. Let’s hypothetically call a “resident” somebody who has lived there for at least 3 months. There is no age limit to voting rights. Kids are affected, so they can vote too. You don’t have to vote, but you can. You don’t have to be a part of the process, but you can. It’s up to you. But I bet we’ll have a whole lot more civic participation and voter turnout than we do in the most active elections we’ve seen to date!

8) Next, the company does the job.

9) Finally, everybody in the affected area is required to pay their proportional share for the work done. For example, if the work benefits your city (a pothole fixed on Main Ave.), then everyone in your city pays an equal proportional amount. If you’re the only wage-earner in your 6 person household, well it’ll be more expensive for you than for the single-person household; but them’s the breaks. If it benefits your county (renovate the county’s schools and buy books for the kids), then everyone in your county pays, whether they have kids or not. If it benefits your state (all electricity statewide will come from solar and wind energy plants only), then everyone in the state pays. If it benefits the nation (we hire new judges for a Supreme Court), then we all pay. Once again, we control as a populace how much we pay because we’re voting this stuff in. We might end up paying a lot less than we already do in taxes, or more! It’s up to us. You can make your voice heard on the subject in any way that we can already voice our opinions: on the streets, in the media, online, whatever. You can join groups, parties, the press: as you see fit! But the difference is that we’re running the show, all of us, and when that happens we start to feel like we’re in charge, that we’re being treated fairly because the majority decided it to be so.

And this is how stuff gets done. If you want to hire a project manager to oversee the job, you can put out the idea just the same way. If you want other jobs done such as better, cheaper, and/or eco-friendly electricity infrastructure for your town, you just follow the same process. A town swimming pool need building or renovation? Better signage on the highway? More lanes on the interstate to reduce rush hour traffic? Repair gas pipelines in your state? Have more wind-power or solar-power in your national energy grid? Need to hire soldiers for the Army, a new general to lead them, and a snazzy new supplier of tanks or machine guns to arm them? Or maybe you want to fire a bunch of soldiers and slim down our military? Need to decide whether to send the Army somewhere to fight? Sign a treaty with another nation to lift economic sanctions in exchange for some other restrictions? Allow gay marriage? Whatever we need, this is the protocol. This is what direct and real democracy looks like. This is what government by the people, for the people, and of the people looks like.

We can have any kind of government that the majority dictates by following this protocol. Call it techno-democracy, e-democracy, collective governance. But basically, it’s just plain old democracydemo meaning “people” and cracy meaning “rule” – that is, rule by the people.

We can have courts, prisons, cops, or not. Legal abortions, the death penalty, or not. We can have a big military, a small one, or none at all. We can have lots of regulation, a little, or zip. We can have an IRS, a flat tax, a progressive tax, or zero tax. But the point is that we decide. We make it happen.

Objections to this kind of government have historically been based on holier-than-thou Big Brother garbage that believes that politicians know better what we need and should have. Similar objections say that this truly democratic system will create a government of demagoguery that is based more on emotions, popularity, and prejudices rather than intellect and rationality: think Nazi German, they always argue. What this ultimately boils down to is hypocritical elitist nonsense because our current system of government already suffers from prejudices, popularity contests, and bias. Are we to think that the prejudices of our small group of career politicians are somehow different than those of the public at large? Are we to circumvent true democracy because we’re just not mature or intelligent enough for it, like little kids who need our parents to guide us? Is that what happened in pre-Nazi Germany: that the people wielded too much democratic power and all decided as a group to become Nazis? In short, that’s false, as any open-eyed study of history can show you: the Nazis wrested power from the people and effectuated mass propaganda and tortured and killed protestors to instill fear and take total control. It was not a populist movement, unlike the environmental conservation movement, the alternative energy movement, the organic food movement, the #BlackLivesMatter movement, the gay marriage movement, and the Occupy movement. These populist movements are a hallmark of what Direct Democracy can accomplish: politics generated by us. The political elite – the career politicians, their financial backers, and their legions of hand-picked enforcers and administrators from police chiefs and judges to county clerks and attorneys general – have fought these revolutionary movements until we would no longer permit them to do so. Let this be a lesson to us.

Elitism was built into the original US Constitution – remember the disgusting 3/5th’s clause, laws that only white, male, property-owners could vote and run for office, and other racist, sexist, and elitist nonsense in the original document? Well how many times must the Constitution be edited with Amendments until we realize that the spirit and essence of it is so pervaded with rubbish that it’s time to tear it up and start over? It’s been edited 27 major times with ratified Amendments, each red-lining major portions of it. Imagine writing an essay for your professor and submitting it, then making major changes to it and submitting an add-on later. Your professor would look at you like you’re an idiot and tell you to rewrite it rather than submit some additional documents changing major portions of it. Now imagine you do this 27 times! You’d be lucky if you didn’t get booted out of the school, right?

Other nations all around the world re-draft their constitutions from the bottom-up, yet our grand document is treated like something far more holy. Why? Because frankly if we were to rewrite it with our contemporary sensibilities, we might very likely create a new government that is far more democratic than the power elite – the oligarchy of career politicians and the like – would want to see. That’s my theory.

What do you think?

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