What’s Wrong with Political Parties?
How Can Voters Re-Invent Them?
Increasing Voter Dissatisfaction
The 21st century marks a pervasive loss of confidence in government and widespread skepticism among voters that government decision-makers will solve life-threatening risks.
Recent polls show that government has become the least trusted institution globally. Voters in many countries are particularly dissatisfied with political parties and the lawmakers they elect to legislative bodies. They are frustrated by the legal and illegal mechanisms that parties use to continuously diminish voters’ power to influence elections and legislation. Unsurprisingly, many voters think lawmakers ignore their needs and priorities, and their legislative actions favor wealthy donors and special interests that fund their electoral campaigns.
In the US, dissatisfaction with political parties has caused more voters to register outside the two major parties than in either party. A majority of Americans have long wanted to replace most members of Congress, the federal legislative body controlled by the two parties. But voters in most US election districts have been unable to do so because the parties have inserted obstacles into election laws and practices that provide party representative “safe seats” from which most lawmakers cannot be dislodged.
Parallel to these trends, the 21st century also marks growing inequities worldwide — especially the upward shift of wealth and income to a small minority of the population. In countries in which governments are controlled by undemocratic political parties, such as the US, this upward shift is accompanied by steep declines in the wealth and income of the large majority, especially the middle class. Many former members of the US middle class and the working classes, as a whole, can not obtain living wage jobs or afford basic necessities, such as adequate medical care. One consequence is that the opening decade of the 21st century has been referred to as a “lost decade” for US workers and the economy.
The US now has one of the lowest overall rankings among 10 “well-off” countries and 21 less “well-off” countries, according to the Stanford University Center on Poverty and Inequality. This low ranking is due to its failed “safety net” and growing inequality with respect to wealth and income. The numbers of the “working poor” in the US and the homeless population are soaring. In 2016, the average longevity of Americans decreased for the first time in nearly 25 years.
While there are numerous causes of these inequities, prominent among them are undemocratic political parties run from the “top down” by political elites and their elected representatives. Their actions are reversing centuries of progress towards horizontal, egalitarian social organization away from vertical, hierarchical social organization.
Instead of furthering social progress towards greater egalitarianism, cooperation, consensus building, and “bottom-up” power-sharing, undemocratic political parties are deliberately fueling divisive political conflicts among parties and voters, unbridled competitiveness, and unconstrained acquisition and concentration of wealth and income at the top of the social ladder. (Dacher PhD (2016). The Power Paradox: The Promise and Peril of 21st Century Power | Talks at Google.)
Undemocratic political parties and their candidates use the seeds of the conflicts they sow to inflame passions and polarize voters in order to win elections, gain greater political influence in legislative bodies, and increase their own fortunes and those of the special interests that finance their campaigns. Unfortunately for lawmakers’ constituents, this strategy often leads to prolonged legislative stalemates. During these stalemates, lawmakers’ neglect the needs, priorities and demands of their constituents who face increasing life-threatening risks — especially injuries, loss of live and material devastation caused by spreading global conflict and extreme weather.
Undemocratic Parties = Undemocratic Governments
How and why do undemocratic parties play such a-historic roles in reversing centuries of social progress and undermining democracy?
While there are many factors, primary among them are the unceasing efforts by political parties to increase their political influence through the steady decrease of voters’ power to control elections and legislation. This decrease is the result of mechanisms parties have introduced into electoral and legislative processes that prevent voters from determining who runs for office on party ballots, what are candidates’ legislative agendas, who can raise the most money for their campaigns, who gets elected, and what laws are passed.
Undemocratic parties, especially the two major US parties, continuously strive to insert varied types of obstructions into electoral and legislative processes aimed at trivializing voters’ power to determine their outcomes. These obstructions include altering the boundaries of election districts (known as “gerrymandering” in the US) and “winner-take-all” rules that preclude the formation of competing parties and competitive bids for office. They also include vote suppression mechanisms that prevent eligible voters from registering to vote and remove registered voters from official voter files so they cannot vote on election day.
The end result of these interferences is that voters are compelled to choose among party candidates running on legislative agendas over which voters have virtually no control. Often voters disdain the party-backed candidates the parties place on the ballot. This occurred in the 2016 U.S. presidential election when a majority of Americans did not like either of the presidential candidate nominated by the Democratic and Republican parties, the two parties that control US electoral processes and US legislative bodies.
Once undemocratic parties get undemocratically elected representatives into legislative bodies, they freely ignore voters’ needs and priorities and pass legislation favoring the wealthy special interests that finance their electoral campaigns. Unsurprisingly, such legislation exacerbates a whole spectrum of inequities.
The Disconnect Between Voters and Lawmakers
In the US, where the party-contrived disconnect between voters and lawmakers is particularly severe, legislators are typically elected in general elections by winning the votes of no more than one-third to one-half of eligible voters. They can get on general election ballots by winning primary elections in which only ten percent to twenty-five percent of eligible voters cast ballots.
The result is that elected representatives are largely disconnected from the people they are supposed to represent, not only because so few eligible voters vote for them, but also because the voters who do cast ballots have so little say in who is actually on the ballots and what are their legislative agendas. The result is that the laws enacted by undemocratically elected lawmakers tend to reflect their own priorities and their special interest campaign donors and ignore those of their constituents.
Empirical evidence of the resulting party-engineered legislative disconnect between voters and elected party representatives can be found by comparing voters’ priorities with the priorities reflected in the legislation enacted by lawmakers.
A case in point is the US healthcare system. The discrepancy between lawmakers’ preferences and the preferences of a majority of Americans for a “single payer” government-sponsored system is reflected in the long-standing refusal of the majority of Congressional lawmakers elected by the Democratic and Republican parties to implement such a system.
The large majority of these lawmakers received campaign contributions from special interests and especially private insurance providers that oppose a “single payer” government sponsored system. In this case and many similar cases, the most reliable predictors of lawmakers’ legislative intentions and actions are the priorities of the special interests that fund their campaigns — not the needs and priorities of their constituents. The conflicts of interests underlying such discrepancies are unique in their capacity to undermine democracy.
More troubling is the fact that even when voters see lawmakers enacting legislation they oppose, they cannot effectively intervene to require them to change course, or immediately remove them from office when these lawmakers are taking actions that jeopardize their well-being. The primary reason they cannot do so is that US political parties have systematically removed the removal provisions that were once embedded in state election laws empowering voters to recall lawmakers from office during their terms.
It should be noted that voters’ ability to control foreign policy-making by elected legislative bodies and chief executives is even weaker than their ability to control domestic legislation — a weakness that can cause equally negative consequences in terms of voters’ safety and well-being. Special interests — especially defense contractors — make substantial contributions to policy-makers electoral campaigns in exchange for policies that favor governing purchasing and use of their weaponry.
Undemocratic Political Parties = Enablers of Unscrupulous Politicans
Significantly, undemocratic parties often serve as institutional enablers that make it possible for unscrupulous politicians, authoritarian personalities, and even immoral and mentally unbalanced individuals to get into office — and stay in office even when their actions endanger and harm the people they were elected to serve.
These parties and politicians use each other in mutually advantageous ways that can severely undermine popular sovereignty and democracy. Unscrupulous, authoritarian, immoral and unbalanced individuals can easily co-opt undemocratic political parties and their supporters, and use them as “bully pulpits” from which they can blatantly lie, confuse, and inflame the passions of voters, especially by pitting various groups against each other in a classic “divide and conquer” manner. They use the inter-group conflicts they ignite and the voters they mislead in order to build electoral bases that will elect them to office and keep them in office for long periods of time.
Once such demagogues are in office, they continue creating conflicts that provoke growing opposition. To quell this opposition, they often contrive various meanings of curbing the exercise of civil, political and human rights — by legal and illegal means. These dynamics can lead to clashes between protesters and governments that escalate into acts of political violence.
How Voters Can Use the Global Social Network for Voters to Re-Invent Political Parties
Two Major Paradigm Shifts
The interferences and obstructions created by undemocratic political parties to prevent voters from exercising their political sovereignty are so long standing and intertwined that reform efforts to root them out are unlikely to bear fruit in the foreseeable future.
One of the primary reasons they cannot be uprooted was identified by European sociologist Robert Michels at the turn of the last century. That reason is the “top down” governing structures that political parties use to manage their organizations and supporters. While parties’ original raison d’etre was to empower voters to give expression to the “will of the people”, the in-depth research that Michels conducted revealed that most parties evolve into organizations controlled by elites and special interests for the purpose of advancing their interests. They usurp voters’ power and influence, and use parties to increase their own power, influence and wealth.
While Michels’s pioneering work in the early 1900s showed that political parties have inherently “oligarchic” tendencies, 21st century parties’ have taken these tendencies to an extreme. They have devised even more numerous and powerful mechanisms for disempowering voters. This is especially the case in the US, as described below.
It is the recognition of the noxious roles played by undemocratic parties and the undemocratic legislative bodies they elect, coupled with the inefficacy of piecemeal reform efforts to reduce their influence, that has led to the invention of the web technology powering the Global Social Network for Voters.
This technology enables voters around the world to create democratic political parties by bringing about two major paradigm shifts in the way political parties function and who controls them.
One shift is for voters to use the technology and network to democratize undemocratic political parties by creating their own online voting blocs that can democratically gain control of the undemocratic parties.
Another shift is for voters to create their own political parties. Voters can use their parties to set their own priorities and legislative agendas, nominate their own candidates, and forge winning electoral coalitions with other parties — including previously undemocratic parties they succeed in democratizing. If voters have not succeeded in democratizing undemocratic parties, they can use their own parties and coalitions to defeat their candidates.
Populism versus Elitism?
While critics may argue that these two major paradigm shifts might open the door to populist excesses, scientific research indicates that voter-controlled political parties are more likely to curb elitist excesses of parties controlled from the “top down” by party officials — especially their tendencies to produce conflicts and exacerbate power inequities.
This research has identified important changes that have been occurring throughout human history and evolving societal norms trending towards greater egalitarianism, cooperation, consensus building, and “bottom-up” power-sharing.
From infancy through adulthood, individuals and groups that are self-determining, and free from adverse external influences, tend to cooperate, build consensus, share power and reduce inequities — rather than compete, spawn divisive factions, concentrate power and exacerbate inequities. (See Dacher Keltner PhD, Dacher (2015). Survival of the Kindest.)
In the realm of politics and political parties, egalitarian norms tend to foster compromise and tolerance, whereas elitist norms tend to foster divisive conflicts and intolerance. Individuals and groups, such as undemocratic political parties, which use political processes and institutions to disproportionately increase their power also tend to abuse this power — unless countervailing individuals and groups prevent them from doing so.
Voter-controlled, democratically organized and managed political parties can serve as countervailing groups. By means of continuous “bottom-up” consensus building and compromise with voters across the ideological and political spectrum, they provide antidotes to undemocratic political parties and party lawmakers that spark conflicts and foster greater concentrations of power and inequities.
The Network’s Party Building Tools and Technology
To accomplish the first paradigm shift, voters can use the Global Social Network for Voters to circumvent the ideological, organizational, and electoral mechanisms that undemocratic parties exploit in their efforts to corral voters into their parties and compel them to vote for their candidates.
Here’s one possible scenario. Voters and individuals residing in an area dominated by an undemocratic political party can use the network’s party building tools and technology to connect to each other online in virtually unlimited numbers. These voters and individuals can include people who are already registered members of that party, and also other unregistered voters and individuals who might wish to register in the party under certain conditions, for example, if they could fully participate in making party decisions.
Once connected via the network, these voters can form, control and manage an online voting bloc hosted on the network. They can adopt rules for democratically formulating online all relevant party decisions, including building consensus about priorities and voting on platform planks, legislative agendas, nominations, electoral strategies, etc.
To increase the size of their voting blocs and electoral base, they can reach out to voters beyond the ideological and partisan confines of that party, invite them to join the voting bloc, and build consensus with them on all relevant issues, including party rules.
Continuous outreach to build consensus across ideological and partisan lines will enable them to forge a larger electoral base than the electoral base of the undemocratic party. Once they have sufficient numbers, members of the bloc who are not already registered in the undemocratic party can now officially register in the party and request to participate in party decision-making to implement the decisions they collectively make online. They can also request to participate in electing new party officials and adopting new decision-making rules and practices for democratically running the party from the “bottom-up”.
In terms of the second paradigm shift, in addition to democratizing undemocratic parties, voters can use the network’s party building tools and technology to democratically build, control and manage their own parties according to rules they collective adopt and vote on using the network’s online voting utility. Voters can use their parties to run and elect their own candidates — and, if they have not been able to democratize undemocratic parties, defeat their candidates. To increase the size of their electoral base and their chances of winning elections, voter can also use their new parties to form electoral coalitions with existing parties, set common agendas with them, and run common slates of candidates with their coalition partners.
Additional Network Paradigm Shifts
I. The Global Social Network for Voters offers voters worldwide unique agenda setting, consensus building, and political organizing tools.
These tools enable voters to insert into electoral and legislative processes the proven benefits of online crowdsourcing and collective intelligence generation — two of the most significant breakthroughs of the 21st century.
These breakthroughs enable virtually unlimited numbers of voters to participate in self-selected and self-managed groups whose members collect and share information, and discuss, debate and devise legislation that meets their needs and solves complex legislative challenges that lawmakers are not resolving. They can use the network’s online voting utility to vote on legislative proposals, and its information gathering and storage capabilities to ensure their work is guided by as much expertise — and even more expertise — than that possessed by the small numbers of lawmakers who currently enact legislation on their behalf.
This paradigm shift will constitute a giant leap forward in terms of increasing the amount of collective intelligence that can be brought to bear on legislative decision-making. Typical 21st century lawmakers represent millions of voters, but the archaic processes through which they are elected and make decisions means that small numbers of elected representatives make legislative decisions for millions of constituents without consulting them, or having any systematic way of familiarizing themselves with their priorities or keeping abreast of their evolving priorities.
These disproportionate ratios fly in the face of substantial research showing that larger numbers of people in self-selected, autonomous groups can generate greater collective intelligence and make more intelligent decisions than smaller numbers of people. (See Louis Rosenberg, PhD (2017) New hope for humans in an A.I. world | TEDxKC)
The Global Social Network for Voters will enable virtually unlimited numbers of voters to work together to devise legislation that meets their needs, and electronically infuse the legislation they prefer into official legislative decision-making processes. By so doing, voters will be able to direct, supplement and eventually supplant the work of the small numbers of lawmakers who enact legislative today.
II. A key advantage of the network’s party building technology is that its agenda setting, consensus building, and political organizing tools empower and motivate voters to strive to build consensus with the full spectrum of voters across ideological and partisan lines — in contrast to the tendency of undemocratic parties to create divisive, highly partisan conflicts. Voters’ ability to use the network to engage in continuous online outreach beyond the organizational and ideological confines of a single party enables them to build transpartisan electoral bases that outnumber the voters in a single party’s electoral base — and thereby defeat their candidates.
III. Significantly, the network’s party-building tools and technology also enable voters and their parties to play determining legislative decision-making roles after elections. They can influence lawmakers’ legislative actions by using the network’s online voting utility to conduct online petitions, referendums, initiatives and recall votes. They can publicize and share their results with lawmakers to alert them whenever their legislative actions deviate from their constituents’ priorities — especially when their actions jeopardize their prospects of being re-elected in upcoming elections. If this pre-election pressure does not induce lawmakers to alter their priorities and legislative actions, voters can immediately start planning electoral campaigns to replace unsatisfactory lawmakers in the next election.
IV. Another breakthrough feature of the network is that it enables voters and their parties to counteract the efforts of undemocratic parties that try to suppress the vote and rig elections by hacking into the operations of corruptible e-voting machines.
The network makes this possible by providing voters unique, permanent, verifiable digital identities. Voting blocs, political parties and electoral coalitions hosted on the network can use these identities, and the network’s voting utility, to project the number of votes their members can cast in upcoming elections. They can compare these numbers with the numbers of votes that election officials claim were cast in the election. If significant discrepancies appear in official tallies, voters’ parties on hosted on the network will be able to contest these tallies and set in motion official verification processes aimed at correcting them and identifying the actual winners.
V. It is also noteworthy that the Global Social Network for Voters enables voter-controlled, democratically-managed parties to circumvent and counteract political propaganda and “fake news”. This includes propaganda and “fake news” disseminated by undemocratic parties, unscrupulous politicians and elected officials, hackers of all stripes — and even foreign governments as allegedly occurred during the 2016 US presidential election.
The network’s data storage capabilities enable voters to create, maintain and retrieve information from their own multimedia databases — and publish their own newsletters and e-newspapers. By so doing, they can disseminate “real news” to their own members, other parties and groups, and the general public, in place of “fake news”.
The World’s First Large Scale Consensus Building Platform
The core party building technology of the Global Social Network for Voters is the Interactive Voter Choice System patented by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (U.S. Patent No. 7,953,628).
This technology will create the world’s first large scale, global, consensus building “common ground” accessible to voters around the world. This platform will connect voters to each other across ideological and partisan lines, and empower them to democratize undemocratic political parties, as well as collectively create, control and democratically manage online voting blocs, political parties and electoral coalitions that elect candidates of their choice. Here’s how:
- Every registered user with a private account on the network will be provided a permanent, private, verifiable digital identity.* This identity entitles them to set their own legislative agendas, and participate in agenda setting and decision-making by voting blocs, political parties and electoral coalitions (BPCs) that they create or join, if they are open to new members. (*No robots or unverified users will be able to access the network.)
- Voters can join multiple BPCs; exit a bloc, party or coalition whenever they wish; and join or start other BPCs.
- Voters who join or start BPCs will be able to participate in setting rules for managing them, as well as proposing and voting on changes of the rules to adapt to evolving needs and external circumstances. If they do agree with rules, they can exit the BPC and join or start other BPCs.
- BPCs will be able to reach out to recruit new members across the ideological and political spectrum to build transpartisan consensus around transpartisan legislative agendas, and resolve conflicts using the network’s voting utility to determine their members’ preferences.
- BPCs will be able to forge transpartisan electoral bases that can grow large enough to outflank, outnumber, and defeat the candidates of single political parties they oppose.
- Lawmakers elected by BPCs hosted on the network, as well as lawmakers elected independently of BPCs, will be provided written legislative mandates and agendas collectively set by BPC members, who can update the agendas and mandates at any time.
- If lawmakers fail to exert their best efforts to enact these mandates and agendas, BPCs can conduct petition drives, referendums, initiatives and recall votes. They can publish their results and alert lawmakers if their actions deviate from the mandates and agendas to pressure them to exert their best efforts to enact them.
- If lawmakers do not heed the alerts and pressure, BPCs can start planning electoral campaigns to nominate and elect opposing candidates to oust them in the next election.
Building Transnational Political Parties
Voters worldwide are increasingly concerned by the failure of political parties, governments, and international organizations to devise effect solutions to life-threatening transnational problems and crises — especially those stemming from spreading political conflicts and worsening extreme weather.
Undemocratic parties, lawmakers and governments that ignore the needs of their constituents tend to ignore or downplay these threats. Unfortunately, they are often responsible for creating these risks or allowing others to create and exacerbate them. This appears to be the case with respect to the human causes of global warming, and the role that governments often play in fueling political conflicts and political violence.
What is particularly galling to many voters is their inability to influence the stances and actions of the parties and governments that ignore or exacerbate these threats. Voters lack control over the elections and policy-making processes and institutions used by their governments and chief executives to legitimize their engagement in conflicts and confrontations that involve the use of force. A case in point is voters’ inability to influence their governments’ decisions to engage in protracted warfare, such as the conflicts taking place in the Middle East and North Africa.
Voters are similarly disenfranchised when it comes to influencing government policies related to extreme weather, and the injuries, loss of life, and material devastation it causes. Chief executives and heads of state meet routinely among themselves at high level conferences to address such challenges, but their actions are often ineffectual, unbinding, and unsupported by clear popular mandates.
Even though it is assumed that the policies they discuss, propose, and pledge to enact, multilaterally and bilaterally, are backed up by legislative bodies and the voters these bodies represent, in fact heads of state rarely consult either. Voters are particularly far removed from such decisions because they are prevented by undemocratic political parties from expressing their views about domestic policies much less foreign policies. They have no way to build consensus among themselves about what actions and policies they want their governments to pursue.
In addition to the relegation of voters to the backseat of transnational policy-making, millions of people who are being displaced from their homes and countries by political conflicts and extreme weather have virtually no say in the resolution of the crises that caused their displacement. This is especially the case with displaced persons who are sequestered in refugee camps that are de facto prisons from which they cannot escape.
To give voters and displaced persons voices to express their needs and seats at the tables of these inner sanctums, the party building tools and technology of the Global Social Network for Voters provide them the following capabilities:
- Voters worldwide can build transnational online voting blocs, political parties and electoral coalitions (BPCs) to address any issues, problems, crises and conflicts they wish.
- BPCs can elect to include mainstream voters and non-voters within single countries, as well as displaced persons, refugees, and migrants residing inside and outside their borders who are unable to exercise their civil, political and human rights. They can collectively build consensus around priorities, agendas and peace plans for enacting policies and legislation to solve problems, crises and conflicts of their choice.
- Similarly, civil society organizations, issue groups, associations, and unions, for example, can also use the network to join existing BPCs or build new BPCs to address issues, problems, crises and conflicts of their choice.
- After gathering and sharing information, and collectively evaluating a range of possible solutions, BPCs can debate, discuss, and vote on various legislative agendas and peace plans devised by their members.
- To implement their agendas and peace plans, members of transnational BPCs can use the network’s party building tools and technology to form domestic BPCs in their home countries, and use them to pressure lawmakers to enact their agendas and peace plans.
- Domestic lawmakers in their home countries will find it difficult and electorally inadvisable to ignore the pressures exerted by BPCs, due to the fact that BPCs can use the network’s tools and technology to reach out to voters across ideological and partisan lines to build the voting strength and electoral bases they need to defeat the lawmakers in upcoming elections.
- Voters and BPCs residing in regions that are dissatisfied with their central governments, and wish to negotiate new relationships with their governments, secede and build new transnational relationships, can conduct online referendums and initiatives using the network’s voting utility to collectively determine the terms and conditions of new relationships they wish to forge, and strategies for implementing them.
- Voters and BPCs can also use the network’s tools and voting utility to discuss, debate, approve and implement changes to constitutions and governance arrangements in their home countries as well as transnational organizations so that both can better serve their needs..
The foregoing capabilities will enable voter-controlled and democratically-managed transnational BPCs to become the engines of continuing expansion of the political power of the world’s electorates to collectively devise and implement solutions to day-to-day problems, crises and conflicts, as well as present and future life-threatening risks that current undemocratically controlled governments are failing to resolve.
The Big Picture: The Historic Rise and Fall of Political Parties
As mentioned earlier, sociologist Robert Michels found that although political parties were originally intended to be controlled from the “bottom up” by the voters they were supposed to serve, they typically end up being controlled from the “top down” by political elites and their special interest allies. In other words, political parties tend to subvert their original goals in the following ways:
- They do not allow party supporters and voters at the grassroots to determine their platforms, set their legislative agendas, adopt their slates of candidates, or control the legislative actions of elected party representatives.
- Party platforms and legislative agendas often reflect controversial, unproved and obsolete ideologies stemming from party leaders’ and special interests’ preferences and opportunistic choices, rather than supporters’ and voters’ preferences and legislative priorities.
- The typical modus operandi of undemocratic parties is to contrive and fuel conflicts in order to gain political influence and electoral advantages — divisive conflicts that create artificial divisions among voters in order to win votes and often lead to legislative gridlock and paralysis.
- They use political, legal and judicial mechanisms to accept virtually unlimited and largely undisclosed financial contributions and other emoluments from special interests whose priorities differ from those of voters, and unduly influence parties’ and candidates’ platforms and legislative agendas and actions.
- They deliberately confuse voters and distort their perceptions and understanding of political issues and legislative options by disseminating political propaganda and monopolizing public discourse with false narratives and assertions.
- They pass laws preventing voters from removing elected officials and lawmakers while they are in office, transforming voters into electoral pawns and passive spectators who are powerless to influence lawmakers’ political and legislative actions.
- They use various mechanisms to prohibit voters from conducting referendums and initiatives that mandate specific legislative actions — even though democratic governments, such as the government of Switzerland, constitutionally guarantee individual citizens the right to conduct referendums and initiatives whose results are binding on elected lawmakers.
- As occurred recently at the hands of Spain’s minority party-controlled government, they prohibit voters and regional legislative bodies from voting for structural adjustments that increase their autonomy and independence vis-a-vis central governments — or secede from their governments altogether.
- As has occurred throughout the US, they create mechanisms for vote suppression and electoral fraud that include the following:
- They deliberately redraw election district boundaries to create winning majorities of party voters in specific districts, by including voters likely to vote for their candidates. They exclude from these districts voters likely to vote against their candidates and scatter them in districts where their numbers are too small to elect opposing candidates.
- They pass laws that make it difficult and costly for opposing parties and candidates to get on election ballots and mobilize voters.
- They create obstacles that prevent eligible voters from registering to vote and casting ballots. For example, they require voters to provide documentation verifying their identity that voters do not have and find it difficult or costly to obtain; they illegally remove the names of eligible voters from voting lists in order to assure the election of party candidates; they restrict the number of voting stations to diminish turnout; they disseminate disinformation about where to vote and how to cast votes.
- They utilize technologies for casting and counting ballots that falsify official tallies of votes cast, and enable election officials to declare candidates to have won elections even though they have not received the most votes cast.
- They intimidate opposing candidates through threats and violent acts, including assassinations.
The consequences of the actions and norms of undemocratic political parties include the following:
- Election of unresponsive lawmakers who subordinate the needs, priorities and demands of their constituents to their own political preferences and priorities and those of the special interests that finance lawmakers’ electoral campaigns.
- Failure to ensure that everyone has access to the basic necessities of life, opportunities for advancement, and protection from threats and risks to their lives, personal safety, and livelihoods.
- Provision of inequitable access to government services and resources, and use of their offices to enrich themselves through corrupt practices such as bribery.
What the foregoing enumeration of the “democratic deficits” exhibited by today’s political parties suggests is that they may well be approaching the end of their usefulness, as presently constituted.
Proposed Remedies and Their Drawbacks
Their dysfunctions, and their impact on a broad range of institutions and processes, are eliciting a wide range of proposed remedies. While many are promising, they tend to contain inherent drawbacks.
- “Good government” groups, political activists, foundations and philanthropists are proposing piecemeal reforms, especially changes to electoral and legislative institutions and processes. Unfortunately, the legal and illegal mechanisms that undemocratic parties have devised to prevent voters from controlling elections and legislation are so numerous and intertwined that piecemeal reform efforts to root them out are unlikely to prove effective in the foreseeable future.
- “Blaming the Victims”: The voters who have been systematically and systemically disempowered by political parties and special interests are being told it is their responsibility to replace undemocratic governments by defeating incumbents and electing different lawmakers. Unfortunately, this solution is unlikely to work because voters are powerless to overturn the laws and mechanisms that undemocratic political parties and their candidates use to prevent voters from from determining who runs for office, who gets elected, and what laws are passed. Parties and lawmakers who use these mechanisms to get elected to office are unlikely to agree to change them.
- Voters who have lost faith in their governments and electoral and legislative institutions and processes are advised to engage in protests, confrontations, and civil disobedience, as well as conduct secession referendums, initiatives, and extra-legal actions. However, these actions are increasingly being outlawed and sanctioned. If they occur, they are being met with coercive and repressive actions by armed police and military troops. Opponents of the status quo in certain countries are being intimidated, injured, arrested and assassinated.
- New, anti-establishment voting blocs and political parties are being formed in an increasing number of countries, but few if any have actually obtained enough votes to gain control of governments. One of the hurdles they face is that establishment parties have created election laws and practices that allow them to take control of their governments even though none of them received anywhere near a majority of votes cast. They form coalition governments with other minority parties that pursue legislative agendas that voters have not approved and conflict with voters’ needs and priorities. These laws and practices create formidable obstacles to existing as well as newly created anti-establishment parties.
- When voters try to create new parties, the new parties tend to divide voters into splinter groups with divergent agendas that are too small to win elections.
- Foreign governments and special interests within their countries are taking advantage of social unrest in other countries and popular opposition to political parties, elected officials and unresponsive governments. They are intervening openly as well as surreptitiously in the political affairs and elections in such countries, e.g. via social media and voting hacking, They also provide financial and military support to opposition groups, parties and candidates so they can engage in actions that sway public opinion and elect candidates whose interests align with foreign governments and special interests. Despite claims that these interventions are intended to promote democracy, they typically undermine it.
- A promising remedy is the Global Social Network for Voters. As described above, voters can use the network to democratize undemocratic parties as well as create their own democratically-run parties. In both cases, and contrary to undemocratic political parties’ vested interests in creating conflicts and dividing voters into hostile camps, voters can build consensus to resolve these conflicts and unite voters across ideological and partisan lines. In contrast to party efforts to corral voters inside party organizational “silos” and subordinate them to organizational hierarchies, the network will enable all voters to connect to each other horizontally on a single platform. They can use the network’s tools and services to create online voting blocs, political parties, and electoral coalitions.
- Their blocs, parties, and electoral coalitions can reach out to voters across the ideological and political spectrum to set common legislative agendas through online information gathering, sharing and evaluation; collective deliberation, debate and voting; nominations of candidates to run in actual elections; and get-out-the-vote campaigns to elect their candidates.
- They can forge large transpartisan electoral bases around transpartisan agendas that can outflank and outnumber the voters comprising the electoral base of any single political party and thereby defeat the party’s candidates.
- Most importantly, self-selected groups of citizens and voters can use the network’s voting utility to vote on any issue(s) and decision(s) they wish, at any time, and in such overwhelming numbers that the results send clear messages to elected officials that their disregard of the results might well imperil their chances of re-election.
- Once the results of an election are announced, blocs, parties and coalitions hosted on the network that have similar priorities and legislative agendas can align with each other to take control of government. While they are in the process of forming a coalition government, they can invite their members to collectively set common legislative agendas for their government using the network’s voting utility.
- At the present time, the primary drawback to the Global Social Network for Voters is that most people have yet to realize that a single platform and technology can empower voters around the world to democratize political parties and governments .
Can US Voters Re-Invent US Political Parties?
To answer this question, the causes of the decline the democracy in the US must be examined. Key among them are the machinations of the major US political parties — the Democratic and Republican parties — and party lawmakers and the special interests that finance them.
Their disempowerment of voters, and undermining of democratic electoral and legislative institutions and processes, have spawned political crises and conflicts so severe and chaotic that they are paralyzing governmental decision-making at virtually all levels. Whether or not the political sovereignty of the American electorate can be instituted in the U.S. in the face of this undermining is a key challenge of the 21st century.
Causes include the following:
- The two major political parties, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, have legally altered (gerrymandered) election district boundaries to such an extent that they control almost 85% of Congressional election districts, and prevent most opposing parties and candidates from having a fair chance of winning elections against major party candidates.
- The two parties are largely responsible for election laws, regulations and practices that result in the election of lawmakers who control legislative bodies even though they typically receive the votes of only about one-third to one-half of eligible voters.
- Most US election laws enable a major party candidate that has received a minority of votes to take office, even though more votes were cast against them in favor of the other parties.
- The two major parties have removed laws at state level entitling voters to recall their elected representatives from office. This means that once lawmakers are elected, no matter how dangerous and unacceptable are their legislative actions, voters can not conduct recall votes to remove them from office.
- Recent legal and illegal vote suppression and turnout suppression mechanisms instituted one or the other of the two major US parties (or both) keeps so many eligible voters from voting in so many states that increasing evidence indicates these mechanisms can sway the results of elections in swing states.
- U.S. election laws and regulations, the US Electoral College, US electoral processes controlled by the two major US parties, and the US judicial system, make it possible for a U.S. president to take office without receiving a majority of votes cast.
- Even if a US president engages in what appear to be illegal acts, voters have no effective mechanisms for directly removing remove him from office during his term. The control of US electoral processes by the two major US political parties make it unlikely that election of new representatives will result in the ouster of such a president.
- Even though the number of voters registered outside the two major US parties is larger than those registered in either party, the voters registered outside the two major parties are not allowed to participate in most major party primaries that decide which candidates will be on the general election ballot. As a result, the majority of voters, who are not registered in either major party, are ultimately compelled to choose among the major parties’ general election candidates even though they did not vote to place them on the ballot, they are running on platforms and agendas over which voters exerted little if any influence, and they are likely to enact legislation that ignores the needs and priorities of these voters.
What makes the situation even worse is that even if rival candidates and alternative parties emerge to contest the two major US parties — for example, the popular Bernie Sanders and the groups and activists organizing around his agenda — what they might well do is fracture the opponents of the two major parties into losing voting bloc pursuing divergent agendas and supporting competing candidates.
Given the way US elections are run, it is almost a foregone conclusion that these rival groups will be unable to unify their supporters into a critical mass of voters that can vote into office candidates who can defeat the candidates of the two major parties. They will find it difficult if not impossible to get their candidates on the ballot of the either of the two major parties, and even if they could get their candidates on their own primary and general election ballot by registering new political parties in the 50 states, or align with existing “third” parties, the two major parties would exclude them from public debates and the mass media would ignore them.
In light of the foregoing, must we conclude that US voters cannot re-invent US political parties? In the short term, without the Global Social Network for Voters, the answer is yes. In the long term, the answer is no.
An additional reason for the short term impossibility is that there are numerous efforts currently underway to institute more numerous and powerful types of vote suppression. One example is the plan underway that is being conducted by the executive branch to compel all states to turn over all their official voter files for inclusion in a federal database, which could be “purged” by the executive branch. Another reason is that the current US Congress and US president have not initiated any efforts to prevent the various types of interference in elections that have already been detected, including those alleged to have been perpetrated by a foreign government..
This possibility is especially worrisome because so many states use technologies that can be electronically manipulated to alter voter registration files and vote tallies.
Last but not least is the powerful influence of corporate-owned social media that are now being used by a variety of players for disseminating political propaganda that misleads, confuses and inflames the passions of undiscerning voters, prevents them from distinguishing between fact and fiction, and induces them to vote against their interests. Unfortunately, the these global media “giants” appear to be aiding and abetting these disinformation campaigns in order to pad their bottom lines with the “advertising” fees they receive from paying ad sponsors, foreign as well as domestic, who use their platforms to disseminate political propaganda.
Fortunately, the foregoing disincentives and impediments to voter-driven re-invention of political parties can be surmounted by the Global Social Network for Voters when it empowers voters to shift the lion’s share of political power and influence to themselves, at the grassroots, well beyond the reach of undemocratic political parties, their elected representatives and the special interests that finance their campaigns
The party building technology of the Global Social Network for Voters empowers voters to democratize undemocratic political parties and create, control, and democratically manage new parties of their own.
This technology can be utilized online by voters worldwide to form online voting blocs, political parties and electoral coalitions around priorities and legislative agendas that cross ideological and partisan lines. These voter-controlled organizations can use the technology to continuously reach to voters and non-voters across the spectrum to forge such large transpartisan electoral bases that they can determine who runs for office, who wins elections, and what laws are passed.
This technology paves the way for the next step in the evolution of government “by and for the people” — well beyond the earlier stage in which small numbers of lawmakers were elected by small numbers of voters. For it will empower virtually unlimited numbers of voters to oversee, direct and supplant the efforts of the small numbers of lawmakers who currently formulate, enact and implement legislation in the name of millions of constituents.
This is a crucial paradigm shift because it enables consensus building voters to supplant popularly unresponsive and often conflict-producing lawmakers who are beholden to special interests and undemocratic political parties, and who all too often ignore the basic needs, priorities, and demands of their constituents.
The network’s technology takes advantage of the well-documented “wisdom of the crowd” by enabling voters, within and across nation-state boundaries, to join forces online to create the “collective intelligence” they need to make more informed decisions than tiny groups of lawmakers. Significantly, it empowers voters to institute new 21st century forms of technology-based political consensus building, power sharing and egalitarian decision-making that benefit entire societies and the global community as a whole.
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Flow Chart of the Network