Sunday, November 23, 2014

You're Doing it Wrong: Politics As If Democracy Mattered

Framework for a Grassroots, Transparent, Mobile Web-Based Politics

...the Left needs to stop being a religion and become a tool in the hands of the people.

Politics in this country, as in most others, is a complete clusterf**k. Despite the passionately contested battles between our legacy parties for political dominance every few years—and the venomous and vile attack ads that inevitably accompany them—most people I know, regardless of their political affiliation, don't seem to feel that they have much affect on national, or even state politics. There is an odd paradox between the heated pronouncements of our politicians, on the one side, and the icy disconnection most people feel toward electoral politics, on the other. The reaction of most folks to even their own party's candidate in any given election is more often than not a disaffected and noncommittal shrug. As we say on the interwebs, “meh.”

Inevitably, if the person is interested in politics at all—and most people are, at least a little bit—they'll give you the old saw about the lesser-of-two-evils. The “he's a bastard, but he's our bastard” mentality. This is actually a politically sophisticated view of things, in that it at least has the honesty to admit openly what our political system has become: evil...with bastards running the show.

The cynicism with which most people now greet campaign promises, knowing that all are inevitably negotiable and prone to change (depending on factors usually involving money and/or matters of personal convenience) just goes to show the utter lack of legitimacy our current political class has acquired in the eyes of most. Our elections have become essentially debates over which of the liars is going to lie the least about what's really going on — which corrupt official is the going to leave the most behind when he or she is done looting the country and selling off the best parts to their friends?
Given that this is the case, it's hardly surprising that the outcomes for most of us have been so bad. [1]
The point, however, isn't to belabor the brokenness and backwardness of the political system as it now exists—or to bemoan the perverse policies (and bailouts) this brokenness has led to—but rather to present another option for how we might organize ourselves politically that avoids entirely this whole morass of big money, special interests, and lesser-of-two-evils defeatism. The idea I would like to suggest we try is a simple one—one that should be familiar, at least in principle, to all Americans—it's called “democracy.” Perhaps you've heard of it...

Imagine a political party with no national platform—a party where local rank-and-file members select candidates from among themselves, and dictate the policies those candidates will support. [2] Imagine a political party whose candidates are transparent; one that guarantees every member an equal voice in shaping the actual policy proposals—and the votes—of their representatives. Imagine a political party whose focus is on empowering the rank-and-file members, instead of the charismatic con-artists we call politicians. Imagine a political party that runs on direct democracy, from bottom to top: open, transparent and accountable.

That, dear friends, is what I am suggesting.

Just a few years ago, this idea might not have been thinkable, but widespread adoption of mobile technology, even among people with lower incomes, makes creating a truly grassroots driven political party—without the need for big money or expensive political consultants—a real possibility.

First I'll describe the basic ideas behind this new structure, and then we'll get to the technological implementation.

In our party, the platforms of the local candidates will be decided by the members through face-to-face and on-line dialogue and discussion, and on-line voting. If someone has a policy proposal, they submit it for discussion, debate, and amendment; if the proposal gathers a preponderance of support from the members, it becomes a local policy position.

Candidates are nominated by the members in their district and have the obligation to submit and vote on legislation only in line with the positions of the local party chapter, once they are elected. In office, the job of the representative is to present and explain legislation up for vote to the members, and, in cases where the proper vote is not clear from the local positions, to have the local party vote on which way the representative should cast their vote in the legislature. Our party will not only allow, but encourage real-time interaction and meaningful participation from the members in the daily work of legislating. This will give members the chance to actually effect the votes of their representatives in a meaningful and transparent way.

The candidates in our party will be contractually obligated to represent only the preferences of their constituencies, regardless of their personal opinions or interests. Any candidate failing to do so will be recalled at the soonest possible time. In this way of doing politics, the political candidate is not the leader of the party, but merely the spokesperson for her or his constituents.

Compare that to both Democratic and Republican representatives, who spend most of their time on Capitol Hill schmoozing with lobbyists and dialing-for-dollars to fund their next campaign, when they'll do their darndest to convince enough voters that they are the lesser evil and to put them back in power for another term...which they plan to spend schmoozing with lobbyists and dailing-for-dollars.

There are two essential ingredients necessary for this plan to work: 1) the dissaffection of enough people with the maneuverings and continual disappointments of both major political parties, and their willingness to join a party that offers first and foremost, a direct voice in the political process, and; 2) the willingness of these people to put in the energy and effort to get as many people involved as possible. For reasons I'll explain a little later, the more people involved in the project, whatever their political views, the more successful this project—this party—will be.

Also, we'll need an app...maybe two. More in a little while.

To be continued....

[1] Full-time jobs are still below their pre-crisis peak, some six years after the crash; overall job numbers have caught up to and surpassed previous peaks only thanks to the BLS's habit of counting anyone working at least one hour of paid work per week as “employed.”

[2] Rather than the other way around, which is how we do things currently: i.e. the candidate selects the rank-and-file (D or R) and dictates the policies to support to them.


Anonymous said...

You are a blathering idiot..please shut down your blog. No one has the time to read such nonsense. TIA !

Diptherio said...

Wow, I merit a troll! Must be on the right track!