Sunday, March 31, 2013

DD=OO: Direct Democracy is the Only Option

The Problem:
Karina asked this question on Yahoo.com: Is direct democracy good for state government?


The Solution:

Direct Democracy is the only way forward because:

  1. It ensures that decisions are made by the biggest possible group which reduces the possibility of elite capture of government.
  2. It encourages everybody to take part in debate which not only ensures people are more aware about important issues, diversity will ensure that solutions are better and more creative as proven by crowdsourcing.
  3. It allows everybody to propose issues that are important to them so the debate is about things that matter to large parts of the population, not only to specific interests.
But if it would be easy to do, some would have tried already. Luckily, information technology has allowed new ways to organizing. Efficiency remains the biggest challenge but it can be solved as follows:
  1. Everybody can propose issues for discussion on a government facebook page
  2. If 2% of the eligible voters click like on a proposal, it is put up for discussion.
  3. Everybody can have their say or make changes to the proposal, but to encourage compromise and limit the range of ideas, amendments must be voted up. The submitter of the original idea can revise a proposal taking into account various amendments to improve the quality of the proposal using the wisdom of the crowd and to increase the support for the proposal from a wider group.
  4. Once the proposal is final, everybody can say whether they are for or against. Again statements can be voted up. 
  5. From experience everybody knows that crowdsourcing relies on a very small group of people to contribute (the so called 1%), there are about 9% that are willing to vote up a proposal. The remaining 90% is silent but should not be voiceless! Therefore, voting cannot be done on a voluntary basis as we will reduce the voting public to the 10% active citizens. So here comes the crucial part of the solution: rather than asking everybody to vote on everything, we need to demand that a random sample of all eligible citizens votes on each proposal. If you demand 600 randomly selected citizens to vote, the result will be much more representative than when you ask all citizens to vote and only 70% actually vote (which is a very high figure for turn out). It is certainly more representative than asking 600 parliamentarians...


The Transition:
This is how direct democracy can work. But let's keep discussing, I am sure that the crowd has even better ideas.