My Next (Political) Steps

It's becoming obvious that we need to evolve our political process to a more representative one where more people directly contribute to decision making without undue influence from "special interests". It's insane that policy in the US, and around the world, is currently (and historically) focused on war, environmental destruction and corporate domination. None of this crap is even remotely supported by the majority of the population on any political scale. Meanwhile, policy that pertains to the beauty and functional maintenance of the environment, prosperity of people and other species – which is supported by vast majorities of the world's people – is ignored or openly derided.

Representative democracy like that practiced in many countries, including the US, is obviously not up to the job. Just to take a personal example, I have resided in relatively progressive districts my entire life. Even on the local level, government has never represented me very well. When moving up to the county, state, regional and national levels, the governments in power in these larger jurisdications have been even less representative of me. Often, especially in the larger jurisdictions, even if my representative(s) vote(s) with my priorities most of the time, the legislative body in general does not. Executive decisions are also unlikely to represent me. These are truisms not only for me, but many people in the US and around the world.

We recently had a primary election in Oregon. I did vote, but since I'm not a registered Democrat or Republican, I couldn't vote in the state-run primary for any of the partisan races, and it is most likely these candidates that will advance to the general election and be elected. My ballot included just a handful of local races and one state-wide non-partisan race. If I want to, I can later this year participate in the Pacific Green Party primary election, but even if I do, the likelihood of any of the winners of this election getting elected is slim to none.

There are many proposals out there to improve the system. Most involve a change in voting methods, or better implementation of current voting methods. Unfortunately, these ideas still involve a representative democratic system of government which takes decision-making out of my hands and puts it in someone else's hands, who are often handcuffed into fitting into a larger power structure that doesn't even pretend to represent me or most people.

A while back, I dabbled in something called sortition, which is defined basically as lottery voting for citizen assemblies that would take over the job of government, or at least help them to make decisions more representative of the majority of citizens of the jurisdication. Well, I recently have been talking around here of trying to implement some sort of scheme like this to replace or at least advise our local government, and then I talked with my son, who lives in Vermont, about his work with sortition and citizen assemblies there. The coincidence of our thoughts tells me I should pursue this further.

I am convinced that representative government cannot possibly decide on policy that can represent the interests of most people, other species and the environment in general. Even on the local scale, decisions are made without much input by the general population most of the time. It seems obvious to me that government should be limited to implementation of policies decided by citizen assemblies that are randomly picked by sortition.

Perhaps on the national scale, the ideas put forth in my Constitution 2.0 proposal might help. In this proposed update to the US Constitution, I suggest a national legislative body elected by ideological voting, via party affiliation. This voting system would not be geographically based, and would not require any poll stations or even mail-in voting. With the addition of a set of additional conditions that require attention to the environment and emphasize avoidance of conflict and cooperative efforts to improve life on the planet, I feel this political guidance document and manual would solve many of the problems we have in the US and around the world.

On the more local level, sortition and citizen assemblies may work. All I know is that we unfortunately have to start thinking about getting rid of government in the long term (anarchical political system), and in the short term going around the government by working in civic organizations like the ones De Tocqueville noticed in the nascent US so long ago, and new ones necessary to deal with issues that were not even perceived of then.

For me, I think the first step is to engage with and participate in local environmental and other civic groups that are doing the things I agree are necessary to make the community (and world) a better place. And also talk with locals about forming a local group that could have some influence – maybe something like the Astoria Radical Party – in local politics and life. Maybe not a political party per se, but more like a civic group of like-minded people that have some good ideas and want to help each other implement them. Anything that can empower people to make their community a better place is a good place to start to making the world better.

So, who's in? 🙋‍♂️🙋