Q&A for the Re-Invent Democracy Team
Question: What is your mission?Our mission is to accelerate the evolution of democratic forms of government as they incorporate advanced information technology, telecommunications and social networks. Our goal is to use the Re-Invent Democracy Web Technology to solve a public sector crisis that the public sector is unable to solve - the global governance crisis, by enabling voters across the spectrum to build consensus and end conflicts that far too many governments are proving themselves incapable of resolving. The global governance crisis is jeopardizing progress on virtually every front. It stems from the failure of governing institutions and lawmakers to devise effective solutions to life-threatening crises and conflicts in a manner that serves the public interest and responds to their constituents' needs and demands. The global governance crisis itself stems from the disconnect between lawmakers and their constituents, and the increasing tensions and confrontations occurring between them. Small numbers of lawmakers enact laws for millions of people who often encounter insurmountable obstacles when they try to use electoral and legislative processes to determine who is elected and what laws are passed. Many of these obstacles have been deliberately erected to erode the influence of the public. Other obstacles erode the public's influence indirectly, by enabling special interests to use money to induce lawmakers to pass legislation serving private interests rather than the public interest. Efforts to use traditional channels to reform dysfunctional governing institutions have been largely unsuccessful. These failures have led our team to conclude that its Re-Invent Democracy Web Technology is the most effective way to end the global governing crisis in the immediate future. It alone is capable of directly connecting citizens to lawmakers through a patented web-based consensus-building and conflict resolution platform and website that replace confrontations and legislative conflicts with voter-driven, multiparty consensus building. Specifically, this global social networking platform will enable voters to inject unique consensus-building structures into electoral and legislative processes, in the form of online voting blocs and electoral coalitions created by their members around collectively set legislative agendas. In concert with lawmakers, political parties, electoral candidates, issue groups, unions and civil society organizations of their choice, these consensus-building blocs and coalitions can formulate solutions to any problem, crisis or conflict they wish. They can become the driving forces of elections and legislation by attracting enough voters to adopt and elect common slates of candidates. By building consensus on the part of ever larger numbers of voters, blocs and coalitions can create electoral bases larger than the electoral base of any single political party. By so doing, blocs and coalitions can run and elect their own slates of candidates to enact their agendas. If they decide their elected representatives have failed to exert their best efforts to enact bloc and coalition agendas, they can run new slates of candidates to replace them in forthcoming elections. In addition to using the platform to build winning voting blocs and coalitions within a country, electorates, elected representatives, policy-makers, electoral candidates, political parties, unions and issue groups will also be able to use the platform and website to form transnational voting blocs and coalitions whose members work together across borders to resolve conflicts and build consensus on common solutions to transnational issues. After transnational blocs and coalitions set common agendas, their members can use the political organizing tools of the platform to build voting blocs and electoral coalitions in their home countries dedicated to enacting the agendas of the transnational blocs and coalitions. These domestic blocs and coalitions can nominate and elect lawmakers to enact the agendas originally set by the transnational blocs and coalitions. To fulfill this mission, we plan to build the world's first large scale consensus building and conflict resolution platform. Our social networking website, reinventdemocracy.net, will merge social media and politics to meet the unmet needs of the nearly three billion people who use social networks. Surveys indicate a surge of worldwide discontent with elected officials and governments that are locked in political stalemates and conflicts and and put the demands of special interests ahead of the public interest. The platform will enable those who are losing faith in democratic electoral and legislative processes to reform and re-invent them by inserting new voter-controlled consensus-building structures into these processes that can work with lawmakers to devise workable solutions. Our goal is empower voters to re-invent failing democracies by overcoming the disconnect between ordinary people around the world and their governments. Most people have little say in government decisions affecting their lives and well-being. Unfortunately, this disconnect is leading to government-caused stalemates, crises and conflicts, within and across national borders, which are making it increasingly difficult for people to obtain jobs that pay living wages and afford the basic necessities of life. These difficulties are largely due to the fact that elected representatives tend to put the laws demanded by special interests ahead of the needs of their constituents. This is most likely to occur when lawmakers depend on special interest money to get elected, which is the case with the large majority of U.S. lawmakers. We think our technology will prove especially useful in countries like the U.S. where minority rule by special interests has paralyzed the federal government in Washington, D.C. Legislative gridlock in the U.S. Congress is largely caused by uncompromising partisan conflicts among special interests, political parties and party representatives, while the needs of ordinary people and the public interest are ignored. The unique Re-Invent Democracy technology can overcome these conflicts by enabling entire electorates to get control of elections and legislation. Voters can build consensus online around legislative agendas specifying what they want government to do, or not to do. They can email their priorities to their elected representatives and mandate them to enact their agendas or risk defeat in the next election. If they decide to vote against their elected representatives in the next election, they can build winning voting blocs and electoral coalitions to run and elect their own candidates.
Question: What is the technology?Answer: The technology includes the recently patented Interactive Voter Choice System and the System for Playing an Interactive Voter Choice Game.
Question: How does the technology work?Answer: It enables voters to build voting blocs and electoral coalitions that comprise broad cross-sections of the electorate and can acquire more political influence than political parties. These blocs and coalitions, which can comprise and align with political parties, can build electoral bases that surpass the voting strength of political parties and their ability to elect candidates of their choice. Here's how:
Question: How do these voting blocs and coalitions compare to political parties?Answer: There are three major differences:
Question: How does the technology promote consensus buildingIn order to grow large enough to win elections, our technology motivates blocs and coalitions to continuously reach out to new voters to build consensus. They can use it to open dialogues with prospective new bloc and coalition members an to discuss, debate and vote on common agendas and slates of candidates. This drive to increase bloc and coalition voting strength encourages continuous consensus building by ever larger numbers of voters working together to set common legislative agendas. Technically speaking, the technology's electronic data processing capabilities make it possible to connect voters, elected representatives, candidates, policy makers, and members of political parties, issue groups and non-governmental organizations online on a scale never before possible. By discussing, debating and voting on agendas to resolve political problems, crises and conflicts, they can build large multi-stakeholder voting blocs and electoral coalitions around common agendas and run and elect common slates of candidates.
Question: What are the ultimate goals of the technology, websites and game?Answer: The goals are to enable voters and democracy stakeholders around the world to replace minority rule by special interests with majority rule by injecting voter-controlled consensus building structures and processes into elections and legislative decision-making. These structures and processes will enable them to put an end to the political stalemates and legislative gridlock caused by constant in-fighting among special interests, political parties and politicians. The reason they can do so is because they can grow transpartisan electoral bases large enough to defeat incumbents by running and electing their own candidates.
Question: Could failing democracies be reformed through traditional legislative and legal channels instead of relying on technology?Answer: This is unlikely because democracies have fallen prey to deeply embedded obstructions in the form of campaign finance and election laws, etc. that prevent their electorates from deciding who runs for office, who gets elected, and what laws are passed. The large majority of lawmakers who use these obstructions to get elected would be unlikely to pass laws to overturn them -- especially U.S. laws and court decisions like Citizens United that allow special interests to make virtually unlimited contributions to political campaigns.
Question: What is the impact of these obstructions?Answer:
Question: Can the Re-Invent Demcocracy web technology be used to solve transnational conflicts?Answer: Yes, the technology enables voters to build transnational voting blocs and coalitions to solve transnational problems, crises and conflicts. These transnational blocs and coalitions can win elections in multiple countries by having their members create blocs, coalitions in their home country to elect lawmakers who pledge to enact the agendas of their transnational blocs and coalitions. Blocs and coalitions can also influence decisions by their executive branches of government when they grow large enough to determine the outcome of future elections.
Question: Who is behind the Re-Invent Democracy web technology?Answer: An international team of technologists, entrepreneurs and social scientists with public and private sector experience and roots in Denmark, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the U.S. (See list and biographies of team members below.) The team is led by the Swiss-American web entrepreneur and political scientist Nancy Bordier, Ph.D. She is the inventor of the Interactive Voter Choice System and the System for Playing an Interactive Voter Choice Game. She is also the founder and CEO of Re-Invent Democracy, Inc. and the Re-Invent Democracy Foundation Intl. You can read her personal political story below describing the political events that led her to invent the technology and, with the help of the team, expand its scope and take advantage of capabilities similar to those of a "complex adaptive system".
IMPLEMENTING THE TECHNOLOGY
The reinventdemocracy.net website is being built around the core features of the Interactive Voter Choice System contained in the patent issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (U.S. Patent No. 7,953,628).
It comprises a "computer based network", a "website on the Internet," and "computerized databases of objects, each object representing a stance on a policy option of concern to voters." The system, which creates "aggregates of voters with similar preferred policy options", is designed to enable voters to "build consensus, coalitions and voting blocs that can run and elect their own candidates for office and induce elected representatives to enact their agendas."
The system is unique in terms of its potential to connect democracy building stakeholders across the political and ideological spectrum, including electorates, elected representatives, electoral candidates, political parties, issue groups and non-governmental organizations around the world.
For the first time in history, virtually unlimited numbers of individual stakeholders will be able to connect to each other on a continuous basis; set their agendas, individually and collectively, across the board and partisan lines; and build transpartisan voting blocs, electoral coalitions and electoral bases that can elect lawmakers to enact their agendas.
Moreover, the technology possesses an inherent incentive and unprecedented potential to unite voters rather than divide them as political parties do, because it will connect multiple groups of stakeholders who might otherwise be divided along partisan lines. They will be united by their goal of ensuring majority rule by building transpartisan blocs and coalitions from the "bottom up" by sharing their ideas, knowledge and needs while negotiating and voting on the priorities to be included in common transpartisan agendas.
Thanks to this on-going consensus building process, the members of these blocs and coalitions will become more numerous and as well-informed as the small number of elected representatives and policy makers authorized to enact legislation and policies. When these officials receive mandates from blocs and coalitions, they will recognize that the mandates have been formulated by people who are as knowledgeable as they are, and possibly even more knowledgeable, because the mandates come from the grassroots and the people most affected by the legislation and policies in question.
People, groups and organizations can choose their priorities in several ways, including composing their own priorities specifying the legislation they want to see enacted, as well as by using customized databases that will be accessible online on the reinventdemocracy.net website.
Elected representatives, electoral candidates and political parties will also be able to use the technology to poll their constituents and supporters on a continuous basis to find out what their priorities are.
They will be able to use the website to engage their supporters in discussing, debating and voting on their agendas.
Representatives and candidates who succeed in generating widespread support for common legislative agendas that they set with their supporters will be able to forge winning electoral bases of voting constituents without special interest financing. Elected representatives who know what their constituents want, and honor their constituents' priorities rather than those of special interests, will be able to cast their votes in legislative bodies without conflicts of interest.
For example, if you are a member of any of these stakeholder groups, you can:
There are four ways your blocs and coalitions will be able to use the reinventdemocracy.net website to pressure lawmakers into enacting your agendas and hold them accountable if they fail to do so.
The reinventdemocracyfoundation.net website is being developed by the Re-Invent Democracy Foundation Intl to create a global community of democracy builders.
The goal is to increase the use of democracy building technologies to strengthen democratic forms of government around the world and overcome their vulnerability to obstructions that prevent majority rule.
This global community will comprise people from all geographical areas and walks of life, across the political and ideological spectrum.
It will include voters, elected representatives, policy-makers, members of political parties, issue groups, civil society organizations and international agencies that work nationally and transnationally.
The Foundation will encourage these stakeholders to play pro-active roles in utilizing web-based technologies that enable ever larger numbers of people to participate actively in electoral and legislative processes.
The Foundation's ultimate objective is to enable democracy stakeholders to elect governments and lawmakers who will enact legislation and policies that serve the majority will and the public interest.
The website and community will provide you a variety of opportunities for communicating with the Re-Invent Democracy team and your fellow democracy-builders around the world. You will also be invited to share with us your views about the technology-based tools and services that will be provided to you free of charge on reinventdemocracy.net when it is fully developed, and ways and means to improve their effectiveness.
Interactive features such as the Re-Invent Democracy Community Blog, the Re-Invent Democracy Founders' Blog and The Democracy Exchange will facilitate dialogue, debate and exchange of information about challenges to majority rule in specific locations, and ways and means to use democracy building technologies to address these challenges.
In addition, the Foundation's E-Democracy Technology Consortium will provide technology developers opportunities to work with each other, democracy builders around the world, and the Re-Invent Democracy team to evaluate the effectiveness of existing and emerging technologies.
The team will be inviting feedback and input from these groups as it seeks to enhance and integrate state-of-the-art and emerging technologies into the reinventdemocracy.net platform -- especially advanced technologies that protect user privacy. The Foundation will strive to become a global leader in facilitating the utilization of the most advanced encryption technologies.
THE CITIZENS WINNING HANDS® GAME
The Citizens' Winning Hands® Game is multi-party online game of electoral strategy that is being developed around the System for Playing an Interactive Voter Choice Game, a companion technology to the Interactive Voter Choice System. It is called the Citizens' Winning Hands® Game because it is designed around two decks of cards.
The game will enable voters to learn how to use the agenda-setting, political organizing, and consensus building tools of the Interactive Voter Choice System to form winning voting blocs and coalitions around common agendas and slates of candidates.
A World Changing Game
The game belongs to a new genre of "world-changing" online games where players develop real world skills for making the world a better place by collaborating online.
The renowned game developer, Jane McGonigal, points out that many of the 500 million people who play online games every day — especially massively multi-player online games — prefer games of collaboration and camaraderie to games of warfare and aggression.
She observes that these players are creating a global "collective intelligence" about ways and means by which ordinary people like themselves can dramatically improve the quality of human life and solve societal problems that cause preventable physical and emotional suffering.
McGonigal believes that many people play world-saving games because real world environments and institutions deny them the power to be heroic. Participation in these games adds meaning and happiness to players' imaginary lives by enabling them to make valuable contributions to their communities.
While they are playing these games, they are developing interpersonal skills that they can put to use in the real world to play collaborative pro-active roles that enable them to join forces with legions of other people to solve problems causing human suffering.
The Citizens' Winning Hands® Game belongs to this genre of world-saving game because it shows disillusioned voters who are losing faith in failing democracies and elections how they can collaborate online to assure majority rule by building voting blocs and electoral coalitions large enough to win elections.
By playing the game, they will have an opportunity to see that the Interactive Voter Choice System enables entire electorates to get control of electoral and legislative processes and elect representatives who will enact their legislative mandates.