Direct (digital) democracy

#1
Splitting out another thread topic from the fertile Donald Trump thread, with a small addition to what I wrote as quoted below: there are already two registered Australian political parties advocating something like direct democracy, Online Direct Democracy - (Empowering the People!) and VOTEFLUX.ORG | Upgrade Democracy!. I'd be interested to know of similar parties in your own country, if you're not in Australia.

I would rather eliminate the legislative branch of government and let the people vote directly on legislation by phone or internet. Elected representatives could still be involved in drafting legislation, but in modern times, there is no reason why we need elected representatives to vote on legislation, they were needed when transportation and communication was slower but are obsolete today.
I would rather eliminate the legislative branch of government and let the people vote directly on legislation by phone or internet. Elected representatives could still be involved in drafting legislation, but in modern times, there is no reason why we need elected representatives to vote on legislation, they were needed when transportation and communication was slower but are obsolete today.
You don't think that, to some extent, long term legislators gain a certain expertise through service in committees, discussions with varied groups, etc?
I would rather eliminate the legislative branch of government and let the people vote directly on legislation by phone or internet. Elected representatives could still be involved in drafting legislation, but in modern times, there is no reason why we need elected representatives to vote on legislation, they were needed when transportation and communication was slower but are obsolete today.
As a U.S. citizen, I would in not way want that broad responsibility. I should also say I would be highly uncomfortable with other folks having this responsibility.

Perhaps on certain, large and well understood issues, yes.

I liken it to times I've been in professional settings where a leader has called for a "show of hands" in a meeting. Typically, there are a couple of folks in the room with significantly greater expertise and nuanced understanding of the issue at hand. A purely democratic resolution in these settings has typically led to poor decisions.

Transparency and accountability seem to be lacking in our republic, but the answer isn't giving all legislative responsibility to the public at large. Scary thought for me.
I would rather eliminate the legislative branch of government and let the people vote directly on legislation by phone or internet. Elected representatives could still be involved in drafting legislation, but in modern times, there is no reason why we need elected representatives to vote on legislation, they were needed when transportation and communication was slower but are obsolete today.
Exactly the approach I advocate. I've even been meaning to put my ideas into practice by coding up a direct digital democracy site, but somehow haven't managed to generate enough sustained motivation. The problem of "don't know enough to have an informed opinion" can easily be overcome by the ability to delegate one's vote - either (perhaps by default) to one's nominal "representative" (appointed as in the current system) or to one's partner, or a public voice one trusts. One could even elect to delegate one's vote to different people on different policies/issues/categories.

An existing (last I checked) direct digital democracy solution which first implemented this idea of deferred votes is Liquid Feedback.
 
#2
Jim_Smith said:

I would rather eliminate the legislative branch of government and let the people vote directly on legislation by phone or internet. Elected representatives could still be involved in drafting legislation, but in modern times, there is no reason why we need elected representatives to vote on legislation, they were needed when transportation and communication was slower but are obsolete today.
Ideally I would like a mixture of both systems - there needs to be a way to enable people to initiate a vote (as opposed to being given the opportunity by parliament - as happened with Brexit) - but I don't think people would want to vote on absolutely everything. UKIP had/has just such a policy, and Switzerland has something of that sort too.

I think such an approach might damp down the surges of enthusiasm for wild policies - open borders, foreign wars, climate change, identity politics, etc etc. I suppose the American people took the next best option and voted in a non-politician as president.

David
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#3
Is the public informed enough to make decisions on every bit of legislation? I have my doubts.

That said, I can see some referendums going to popular vote, though again I wonder if this is divided by states/cities/nation/etc?
 
#4
Responding to these two separate (except in concepts) posts:

Ideally I would like a mixture of both systems - there needs to be a way to enable people to initiate a vote (as opposed to being given the opportunity by parliament - as happened with Brexit) - but I don't think people would want to vote on absolutely everything.
and:

Is the public informed enough to make decisions on every bit of legislation? I have my doubts.
I think both of these reservations have "technical" solutions. The first is that which I posted above: the ability to delegate one's vote, potentially with a "default" delegate: one's "mainstream" political representative. The second (assuming, say, that one's delegate did not vote) would be to monitor (programmatically) each proposition (potentially posted by an "ordinary" citizen), and, if it reached a certain level of support (say, 20% of eligible voters had - either directly or via their delegate - voted on it), then to mandate everybody else to vote on it - and this would include especially elected representatives, so that delegated votes definitely counted.

That's just a little "snapshot" of how such a system could work; am happy to supply ("work on") further details if anybody cares.
 
#5
Responding to these two separate (except in concepts) posts:



and:



I think both of these reservations have "technical" solutions. The first is that which I posted above: the ability to delegate one's vote, potentially with a "default" delegate: one's "mainstream" political representative. The second (assuming, say, that one's delegate did not vote) would be to monitor (programmatically) each proposition (potentially posted by an "ordinary" citizen), and, if it reached a certain level of support (say, 20% of eligible voters had - either directly or via their delegate - voted on it), then to mandate everybody else to vote on it - and this would include especially elected representatives, so that delegated votes definitely counted.

That's just a little "snapshot" of how such a system could work; am happy to supply ("work on") further details if anybody cares.
You're not going to get anywhere with that idea, until you address how we all learn, and we all appear to learn differently.

Until we routinely scan brains to look at things like mini-column spacing, speed of network creation, length of consolidation, speed of network erosion. And know about people's behaviour, their past experiences, their ancestors behaviour and experiences, we're never going to know what people are good at, and stream them, and enrich their education appropriately very early in life, giving them the freedom to persue their own path.

We already have a rough idea how people fall into similar groupings... conservative, liberal, white, black, French, Russian, criminal, judge, professor, artist, young, old, gay, straight, funny, serious, quick, slow etc... a whole cornucopia of symmetries... but so many get stuck in the wrong positions, wrong paths, or there are no positions that would suit their abilities, and all of us are weighted down by the baggage of our experiences, and our parents experiences. It's heartbreaking... :-(

In the end, your're just building another system on top of the natural system that already exists. And such artificial systems can be interfered with.

People have been trying to build Utopias for ever... The stuff we discuss on here about reality and consciousness should be more important... they provide a better clue as to what is going on, and how we might fix it.
 
#6
You're not going to get anywhere with that idea, until you address how we all learn, and we all appear to learn differently.

Until we routinely scan brains to look at things like mini-column spacing, speed of network creation, length of consolidation, speed of network erosion. And know about people's behaviour, their past experiences, their ancestors behaviour and experiences, we're never going to know what people are good at, and stream them, and enrich their education appropriately very early in life, giving them the freedom to persue their own path.

We already have a rough idea how people fall into similar groupings... conservative, liberal, white, black, French, Russian, criminal, judge, professor, artist, young, old, gay, straight, funny, serious, quick, slow etc... a whole cornucopia of symmetries... but so many get stuck in the wrong positions, wrong paths, or there are no positions that would suit their abilities, and all of us are weighted down by the baggage of our experiences, and our parents experiences. It's heartbreaking... :-(

In the end, your're just building another system on top of the natural system that already exists. And such artificial systems can be interfered with.

People have been trying to build Utopias for ever... The stuff we discuss on here about reality and consciousness should be more important... they provide a better clue as to what is going on, and how we might fix it.
Max_B, please correct me if I'm wrong, but is what you're saying that citizens should only be able to vote a representative to vote on their behalf, and aren't (shouldn't be) able to vote directly, because they aren't (potentially) educated enough to vote directly? If so, I then why is a vote for a representative safer than (or more ideologically appropriate than) a direct vote for a policy/legislation?

Or are you saying that we should only allow certain ("superior") people to vote on political issues? Are you advocating some sort of meritocracy?
 
#7
Max_B, please correct me if I'm wrong, but is what you're saying that citizens should only be able to vote a representative to vote on their behalf, and aren't (shouldn't be) able to vote directly, because they aren't (potentially) educated enough to vote directly? If so, I then why is a vote for a representative safer than (or more ideologically appropriate than) a direct vote for a policy/legislation?

Or are you saying that we should only allow certain ("superior") people to vote on political issues? Are you advocating some sort of meritocracy?
A very simplistic example of what I'm saying is that people learn from TV, and alter their behaviour due to what they learn. Those who control TV, control those who learn from TV.
 
#11
DDD would weaken the power or political parties, reduce the influence of special interests capable of buying votes in congress, and reduce the polarization in society.
Not buying it.

Special interests would be replaced by sophisticated marketing by those with money (power). Same sources, different medium.

If social media is any indication, the divisiveness would grow faster.

I don't think this is any kind of panacea. Just not seeing it.
 
#12
You've lost me, I'm guessing you don't understand what I'm getting at. Let's try another way using the same TV example...

The people who control the TV, control the people who watch the TV?
Yes, I think I understood you the first time. My question still stands: what makes it such that political representatives, who also watch TV, are not controlled by it? Or are you saying that our political representatives are the ones controlling the TV?
 
#13
Not buying it.

Special interests would be replaced by sophisticated marketing by those with money (power). Same sources, different medium.

If social media is any indication, the divisiveness would grow faster.

I don't think this is any kind of panacea. Just not seeing it.
Political advertising could be limited, and all (public) political discussion funnelled into the direct democracy platform itself, where, for each proposition, arguments for and against, and counter-arguments, etc, could be raised and discussed in a structured forum. People could "like" arguments, and the most effective arguments on either side would rise to the top. I'm confident that a very effective system for public decision-making could be built.
 
#14
Responding to Silence's post from the Donald Trump thread:

The problem of "don't know enough to have an informed opinion" can easily be overcome by the ability to delegate one's vote - either (perhaps by default) to one's nominal "representative" (appointed as in the current system) or to one's partner, or a public voice one trusts. One could even elect to delegate one's vote to different people on different policies/issues/categories.
There's nothing easy about this at all.

On one end of the spectrum you end up right back where we are today.

On another you end up with Kanye West casting 4.5 million votes he's been delegated by fans.

My point is that people are too damn busy with their every day lives to be this involved in the legislative process. Plus, the myriad of decision makers you allude to under the delegation process would have no viable forum to discuss the issues prior to voting.

I just don't see how this would work as a replacement to our current legislature.
My response:

There's nothing easy about this at all.

On one end of the spectrum you end up right back where we are today.

On another you end up with Kanye West casting 4.5 million votes he's been delegated by fans.
And on yet another, you have the majority of the population rescinding decisions made by power-brokers in the pockets of the 1%. There's no way to do that currently. You vote for somebody once every four (or whatever) years, and in the meantime they get to do almost whatever they want.

And on yet another, you have people delegating decisions about tricky topics to those experts who know the most about them.

My point is that people are too damn busy with their every day lives to be this involved in the legislative process.
Sure, and it could be that for the majority of decisions, people leave their vote delegated to the default (their representative), but that, for example, when their president wants to go to war in Iraq, on masse they vote to overturn this decision.

Plus, the myriad of decision makers you allude to under the delegation process would have no viable forum to discuss the issues prior to voting.
I covered this in my reply above.

I just don't see how this would work as a replacement to our current legislature.
You could think of it (or use it yourself) as a tool for (mostly) emergencies: when your elected reps are going to vote against everybody's interests - this way everybody can countermand them. Right now, we can't.
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#15
Political advertising could be limited, and all (public) political discussion funnelled into the direct democracy platform itself, where, for each proposition, arguments for and against, and counter-arguments, etc, could be raised and discussed in a structured forum. People could "like" arguments, and the most effective arguments on either side would rise to the top. I'm confident that a very effective system for public decision-making could be built.
Curious - What are the hard structures you would have? Something like the Bill of Rights, or certain kinds of anti-discrimination/free-speech laws?

Seems even to set up the boundaries would be an enormous political challenge, big enough to ever prevent this from being enacted?
 
#16
Curious - What are the hard structures you would have? Something like the Bill of Rights, or certain kinds of anti-discrimination/free-speech laws?
I'm not quite sure what you're asking - I don't know that any of the existing laws/rights need to be changed [edit: aside from the enabling legislation], you'd just need some enabling legislation - potentially including a change to the constitution. I haven't thought much about what it would take.

Seems even to set up the boundaries would be an enormous political challenge, big enough to ever prevent this from being enacted?
I think setting up such a system and proving that it's viable might be the first step. It could snowball from there.
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#18
Sorry, Sci, I kind of threw that post out there without much thought. Short, honest response: I haven't thought much about that side of things.
To be fair my post didn't explain clearly. It seems to me democracy is meant to be more than mob rule - as such it would make sense to have some hard restrictions on legislative and executive power.

Does that make clearer what I was getting at?
 
#19
To be fair my post didn't explain clearly. It seems to me democracy is meant to be more than mob rule - as such it would make sense to have some hard restrictions on legislative and executive power.

Does that make clearer what I was getting at?
Yes, that makes it clearer. I'm not sure I agree though with your starting assertion: that "democracy is meant to be more than mob rule". I would agree if you qualified "democracy" with "representative", but why could it not also be qualified with "direct", in which case "the will of the people" is exactly what "democracy" is supposed to be - a will not necessarily mediated through the wills of others, but potentially expressed directly?

People express concerns about "mob rule" and "populism", but I'd rather the population as a whole were able to make political decisions than that a concentrated power could twist the arms of a small number of representatives. Diffuse the power, don't concentrate it.

That said, I'd be open to appropriate, well-thought-out restrictions on legislative and executive power. Did you have any in mind, or where you just raising the concern?
 
#20
Yes, I think I understood you the first time. My question still stands: what makes it such that political representatives, who also watch TV, are not controlled by it? Or are you saying that our political representatives are the ones controlling the TV?
In this symplistic example I'm simply making a split between those who control the TV, and those who don't. Whether those who control TV, watch TV as well doesn't matter to me.

If you can't see what I'm getting at in terms of your ideas, I'll leave it there, as we're not likely to make any progress.
 
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