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Business - Written by on Friday, July 11, 2008 12:01 - 2 Comments

Open Source Political Party to Run Candidates Bound to Consituent e-Votes

FreeGovernment.org, launched on July 4, is one of a growing number of online, direct democracy communities that allow users to vote on bills, draft their own legislation, and engage in debate. While these communities present an opportunity to make government more accessible and responsive to citizens, they have failed to earn any influence over politicians.

To change that, Free Government plans on electing the politicians. The community, which is also a political party, is looking for candidates to run in the 2008 US Congressional election. If elected, these politicians will be contractually obligated to vote according to the results of an online poll of constituents (for their vote to count, users will have to first be confirmed as registered voters).

The idea of direct democracy itself is fascinating and becoming increasingly possible. But proponents of it normally talk about the need for us to change the system of government. Instead, Free Government is engaging with the old system and building their new system on top of it. Last week I posted about how the big tech companies’ new patent alliance is a work-around for ineffectual IP laws (that our failing government has been unable to update). Similarly, government’s inaction in the direct democracy arena could be corrected by Free Government’s simple work-around.

The plan, though, is not pure direct democracy. Those who prefer not to make their own voting decisions can delegate their votes to advisors. These advisors then, become sort of like elected representatives. But there are a few important differences:

  • They are never running for election, making their decisions less susceptible to variations in the political cycle.
  • Their power is never “locked in.” If they make a bad or corrupt decision, constituents can immediately and retroactively take their power away.
  • Those who do not win are still engaged in the process. When a candidate loses an election, we shut this (often) highly qualified person out of government, rather than give them an opportunity to serve their community. A corporate HR department would cringe at such a policy. Free Government’s system allows those less-popular “advisors” to continue to engage in the policy making process.

Wouldn’t it crazy/amazing if these guys actually got someone elected and we could see how it worked? I haven’t talked about the challenges of something like this, and there are many. But we are in serious need of some innovative ideas for saving our increasingly ineffective government. I think this may be the best one I’ve seen yet.

I’d love to know what everyone else thinks.



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Wikinomics » Blog Archive » NIMBY Stops Powerplant, Saves Mississauga Lakefront
Jul 17, 2008 11:18

[...] feat brings the “not in my backyard” (NIMBY) opposition to a new level. Will Dick wrote about direct democracy last week. In a world like that, how is the NIMBY problem solved? NIMBY relegates power plants, [...]

Wikinomics » Blog Archive » The Wikinomics Roundup: Week in Review
Jul 24, 2008 11:36

[...] about how to reach those goals. On July 11, 2008… Will Dick talked about direct democracy: Open Source Political Party to Run Candidates Bound to Consituent e-Votes FreeGovernment.org, launched on July 4, is one of a growing number of online, direct democracy [...]

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