THE GLOBAL SOCIAL NETWORK FOR VOTERS

Empowering Voters to Control Their Governments,
Political Parties, Campaign Financing,
Elections, and Legislation

Overview

Voters worldwide are losing control of their governments, political parties and elected party representatives. Research findings indicate voters distrust their governments and the electoral and legislative institutions and processes that lawmakers use to get into office and keep getting re-elected despite voters' disapproval of their actions.

Key reasons for these findings include the following:

  • The growing gap between voters' needs and priorities and the legislative priorities and actions of elected lawmakers.
  • Voters lack of control over political parties' operations and actions that determine who gets on party ballots in primary and general elections.
  • Voters lack of systematic mechanisms for articulating their legislative priorities across the board and influencing the priorities included in party and candidate legislative agendas.
  • In general elections, voters often must choose among unrepresentative party candidates who win primary elections with the organizational and financial support of special interests, elections in which a small minority of voters participate.
  • In the U.S., dissatisfied voters face barriers erected by the two major parties to prevent the creation of new parties that can win elections.
  • Voters' votes have scant overall impact on the composition of legislative bodies because they reside in election districts whose boundaries have been changed (gerrymandered) by political parties to remove voters likely to vote against their candidates, and scatter their votes among losing districts.
  • Many eligible voters are prevented from actually voting, and the votes cast by many voters are not counted, due to election laws, regulations, hackable voting technology, as well as legal and illegal practices, which skew the results of elections so that candidates can be elected with a minority of votes cast -- which represent an even smaller minority of the total of all eligible voters.
  • Voters' needs and priorities are subordinated by elected party representatives to those of special interests that finance party and candidate electoral campaigns, in exchange for party representatives' votes on legislative issues.
  • Voters' electoral and legislative disempowerment by political parties leads to the passage of tax and minimum wage policies that exacerbate inequalities in the distribution of income and wealth -- which in turn prevents large segments of the population from obtaining basic necessities, long-term financial security, educational opportunities, etc.
  • Voters are unable to influence legislative bodies that are paralyzed by political conflicts and stalemates contrived by political parties, party candidates, party legislative representaties, and special interest campaign contributors -- particularly those aimed at sparking “culture wars” to win elections.
  • Voters are alarmed by lawmakers' failure to devise workable solutions and laws to overcome life-threatening crises such as climate disruption and political violence.

Even after the 2018 mid-term elections, the voter-lawmaker disconnect persists. Post-election polls show most U.S. voters do not think Congress represents. Nor do they think Congress is doing a good job or headed in the right direction. Half of registered voters do not think Congress represents their political views, including Democrats, Independents and Republicans. (See: "Most Americans Don’t Feel Well-Represented By Congress [2018].")

What is particularly striking about this voter-lawmaker disconnect is that elected representatives routinely claim they speak for their constituents, even though they do not really know what their constituents need or want across the board because party-controlled electoral processes do not give voters systematic mechanisms for articulating them. Nor do voters have systematic mechanisms for influencing the priorities of the parties and their candidates and their legislative agendas, or party decision-making processes that determine them.

The disconnect is the result of a persistent, incremental, multi-pronged push to disempower voters, which is a long-standing trend in American politics, as well as in many countries around the world that claim to have democratic forms of government. Many prerogatives once enjoyed by citizens have been watered down and washed away, even powers bestowed on them by the U.S. Constitution. For instance, not only do voters exercise limited autonomy in deciding who gets elected but also when they leave office, as the result of laws and regulations enacted at the behest of parties, such as those prohibit voters from removing elected representatives during their term of office (except for malfeasance), which in the case of the U.S. Senate lasts for 6 years.

It is noteworthy that one likely consequence of voter disempowerment is the fact that only about half of all voting age adults turn out to vote in the U.S. While this phenomenon is undoubtedly caused by many factors in addition to disempowerment, the chronically low rate of voter turnout in U.S. elections puts the U.S. at the bottom of the ladder compared to its peers among highly-developed, reputedly democratic states. (Pew Research [2018] "U.S. trails most developed countries in voter turnout").

Among the most persuasive arguments supporting allegations that Americans are saddled with minority rule rather than majority rule is the fact the two major parties that dominate American government can call the shots legislatively even though their enrolled members combined barely comprise half of all registered voters -- the other half refusing to enroll in either. Yet the candidates of the party that wins the most votes in Congressional elections control the body to which they are elected -- the House or the Senate -- even though they may have received less than a majority of votes cast, represent gerrymandered districts, and typically represent only one quarter of all eligible U.S. voters. Once a party takes over the House or Senate, even if it is only backed by a minority of voters, the elected party representatives take over all positions that ultimately determine what legislation can be considered, amended, and voted upon, unless their own members defect and refuse to vote for party-backed legislation, or the opposing party can find one or another of the few loopholes that exist.

Can Minority Rule Be Transformed into Majority Rule?

In the U.S., the deeply entrenched underpinnings of voters' loss of control of government, and the incremental inception of ever greater minority rule, are embedded in a multitude of federal, state, and local laws, court decisions, regulations and practices -- legal and illegal, as per research and analyses that conclude the U.S. is governed by minority rule that may continue for the foreseeable future. Yale University professors Markovits and Ayres summarize these findings in the article "The U.S. is in a state of perpetual minority rule" published in late 2018 in the Washington Post .

These findings are supported by prior research published in 2010 by Hacker and Pierson, and Gilens and Page in 2014, who concluded that "that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence".

A case in point of their findings, in terms of legislation critical to the health and well-being of Americans, is the chronic refusal of both major parties in Congress to enact legislation providing universal, single payer, government-sponsored health care. This type of health care has long been favored by a majority of the American people, a preference ignored by both major parties' representatives, many of whom had received campaign contributions from corporate members of the pharmaceutical and healthcare provider industries. The fact that most post-industrial Western societies do provide universal health care indicates the U.S. is likely to be in a class by itself when it comes to deeply-entrenched minority rule that knowingly and willingly flouts the popular will even when it exerts a clearly adverse impact on the population's health and welfare.

Given the necessary and indispensable role that democratic forms of government play in fostering progress on virtually all fronts, it is vital that disempowered citizens around the world who do not control their governments be empowered to control them as soon as possible, and move them from legislative bodies characterized by minority rule to majority rule. The significant advances that have been made in societies throughout the world with respect to the increasing capabilities of their members to engage in cooperative, collective problem-solving should be furthered by their governments -- not hindered by them and self-serving political parties that control elections and legislation.

Research has identified important evolutionary transformations that have been steadily occurring throughout human history — especially with regard to furthering social progress towards greater egalitarianism, cooperation, consensus-building, and “bottom-up” power-sharing. From infancy through adulthood, it has been found that self-determining individuals and groups tend to cooperate, build consensus, share power and reduce inequities — rather than compete, spawn divisive factions, concentrate power and exacerbate inequities as seems to be the modus operandi typical of political parties. (See Keltner, PhD, "The Power Paradox: The Promise and Peril of 21st Century Power" [2017] and "Survival of the Kindest" [2015].)

In the realm of politics, these egalitarian norms will have the tendency to foster compromise and tolerance unless they are counteracted by the norms of political parties and elitist groups that tend to foster intolerance, divisive conflicts and inequities in their quest for various forms of power and influence. Undemocratic political parties tend to abuse this power unless countervailing individuals and groups prevent them from doing so.

To counteract these tendencies, voter-created and democratically controlled and managed political parties hosted on the Global Social Network for Voters can use the network's agenda- setting, consensus-building and political organizing tools to engage in continuous “bottom-up” consensus building and compromise with voters across the ideological and political spectrum. By so doing, they can act as countervailing political organizations that neutralize and work around undemocratic political parties and party lawmakers that deliberately spark conflicts in order to gain electoral advantages.

The two major U.S political parties are not alone in exhibiting these tendencies, which characterize political parties in many countries. One of the primary reasons for this pattern, according to the work of the noted European sociologist Robert Michels at the opening of the 20th century, is that traditional political party structures, as originally conceived and operationalized, are inherently undemocratic.

While parties’ original function was claimed to be that of empowering voters to convey through their votes the “will of the people”, Michels’s in-depth research showed that most parties evolve into organizations controlled from the “top down’ by party, economic/financial elites, and special interests who use parties to advance their interests rather than voters’ interests. In the process, they usurp voters’ power and influence within the party and thereafter in party-controlled elections and governing institutions, using party rules and activities to increase their own power, influence and wealth.

The Global Social Network for Voters has been designed to counter the classic undemocratic roles that so many political parties have played in democratic forms of government, and continue to play, coupled with the inefficacy of piecemeal reform efforts to alter their prerogatives and influence. The network's core premises derive from known facts, such as those cited above, as well as the potential of its consensus-building tools and services that empower voters to join forces to circumvent the multitude of intertwined laws, regulations, court decisions, and legal and illegal practices that prevent voters and the population at large from controlling their governments, political parties and special interests. For example, these tools take advantage of evidence showing that voters, on the whole, are largely in agreement regarding priorities. They are willing to compromise in order to prevent legislative stalemates, and hold both major U.S. political parties in low esteem due to their propensity to deliberately spark conflicts and obstinately refuse to compromise to prevent legislative stalemates. (See Fiorina, PhD [2008]; Stern [2017]).

The network makes possible the transition from minority rule to majority rule because of its inherent consensus-building mechanisms. These mechanisms will motivate voters to reconcile divergent political views and resolve political conflicts by building consensus around common transpartisan legislative agendas and reaching out across ideological and partisan lines to build transpartisan voting blocs, political parties, and electoral coalitions that can forge transpartisan electoral bases large enough to win elections by defeating the candidates of highly partisan political parties. By so doing, they will be able to determine who runs for office, who gets elected, and what laws are passed -- in effect to control their governments.

In summary, the network's power-shifting technology will:

  • Connect voters online across ideological and partisan lines to build consensus and set common transpartisan legislative agendas.
  • Enable voters to create voter-controlled voting blocs, political parties and electoral coalitions that can win elections and pass laws overcoming gerrymandering, vote suppression, and undemocratic minority rule.
  • Empower voters to reform campaign financing de facto by forging transpartisan electoral bases large enough to elect candidates of their choice without special interest campaign financing that sways their votes.
  • Ensure popular control of elected representatives by enabling voters to conduct online petition drives, referendums, initiatives and recall votes to pressure legislators into enacting voters' agendas.
  • Empower voters to hold legislators accountable at the polls for their legislative actions using the network's political organizing tools to conduct get-out-the-vote campaigns to defeat and replace incumbents.

International Scope

There are many life-threatening issues -- such as extreme weather, gun control and political violence -- that require legislative solutions with domestic and international implications. The Global Social Network for Voters will provide voters and political activists worldwide a single platform for simultaneously -- and consensually -- devising international and domestic legislative solutions to such issues. They will be able to implement them within and across national borders by means of voter-controlled voting blocs, political parties and electoral coalitions. The network will enable them to:

  • Connect to each other within and across national borders so they can simultaneously resolve international and domestic issues and conflicts.
  • Form voter-controlled voting blocs, political parties, and electoral coalitions that operate internationally and domestically.
  • Build consensus across ideological and partisan lines to set common transpartisan legislative agendas resolving international and domestic issues and conflicts.
  • Implement voters' international agendas domestically by nominating and electing candidates of their choice in their home countries to enact the agendas.
  • Oversee, guide and direct the legislative actions of elected representatives in their home countries to enact international as well as domestic agendas.
  • Propose specific legislation for enacting international as well as domestic agendas by conducting online petition drives, referendums, and initiatives, and directing their elected representatives to pass this legislation.
  • Conduct recall votes to warn elected representatives when their legislative actions risk their defeat in upcoming elections.
  • Hold elected representatives accountable at the ballot box for their legislative actions in implementing international as well as domestic legislation, by using voter-created and voter-controlled online voting blocs, political parties, and electoral coalitions to conduct winning get-out-the-vote campaigns.

Technology

The platform of the blockchain-based Global Social Network for Voters comprises 4 technological components. The first two are already in use and will be combined with the second two, the Company's two U.S. patents. Together they will create a secure, blockchain-based social network that can be accessed only by registered users with authenticated digital identities provided by the network.

About

Re-Invent Democracy, Inc.'s interdisciplinary team includes serial entrepreneurs, inventors of innovative web technologies, holders of advanced legal and academic degrees, and experienced business executives. Its founder holds dual U.S. and Swiss citizenship, two U.S. patents, and PhD and MA degrees from Columbia University in Political Science. She has participated in U.S. electoral campaigns and run for public office. In addition, she was an award-winning member of the launch team of IBM's pioneering $1 billion social network, the Prodigy Interactive Personal Service, founded by a partnership of IBM, CBS and Sears.

Re-Invent Democracy, Inc. does not espouse ideological or partisan views, nor does it align with, or accept funding from, governments or agencies funded by governments.

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