List something you dont like about the way your government is currently run. Not many of you would be left speechless. If you are without comment you
probably just dont care enough about how your country is run to bother thinking about it. Its this apathy that has killed true democracy in our modern
nations. This apathy is born from a very real disconnect between what you think and what your government does. How can we change this? The Internet,
What is a true democracy?
The simplest, and hence most truthful, definition of a democracy is:
A form of government where decisions are made by the majority, and with consultation of, the people.
Over time our populations grew to number in the tens, and even hundreds, of millions. With those numbers we lost the ability to consult with all the
people, it was simply not possible. The answer to this was to delegate our personal counsel to a representative who would represent many of us in the
decision making process. This solution, over time, has eroded the basis of our democracy. Our representatives cant represent everyone they are meant
to, they have to choose a side and thus negate countless voices. We havent just delegated our voice, we've delegated the entire decision making
Some may argue that we can express our voice at election time. Well thats true, but voter apathy and short memories all conspire to ensure that even
this process is corrupted. We can also express our voice through a referendum. Both processes are infrequent and only a referendum allows us direct
influence in the decision making process.
But what if a referendum could be efficiently and inexpensively conducted for all important decisions? We have the technology to implement it - we
just need the will.
Our political process hasnt changed significantly since the creation of the printing press. With its inception public sentiment could be gauged and
swayed on a large scale. Given that the printing press was invented in the 1450s, it seems quite anomalous that such a crucial aspect of our
civilization would remain so antiquated. Is this because it works so well? Or is it because our "representatives" do not wish to give us back our
rightful place in the decision making process of our countries?
Quite simply, the "printing press" revolution of our time is the Internet
. This single invention could revolutionize the way our countries are
run. Used as a public tool to gauge and sway the population on a gigantic scale it will be the next evolution of democracy. It wont be a replacement
of democracy, it will be an extention of it and as such our governments should embrace it.
Giving us all
back our voice in government will rekindle our interest in the decision making process that we've come to ignore. This
evolution of democracy will abolish apathy
Do you want your voice back? Do you want the internet incorporated into the political process? Well you can keep dreaming because our governments will
NOT implement it of their own volition. We, the people, will have to force its implementation and to do this we have to prove it works.
To do this we have to create workable systems that demonstrate clearly how the internet can give all of us back our voice in government.
To do this we need to spend money on it. Simple. Thats the long and short of it. The creation of political parties needs money, this evolution of
democracy will come from either funding or a revolt. The best option is to dig deep and invest in this evolution. If we can prove it works we can get
All this altruistic and pie-in-the-sky babble of what should and shouldnt be happening is all well and good, but its nothing without alternatives.
I've contemplated what I believe the internet can offer the democratic process, its potential is simply staggering.
The origins of democracy lay in ancient Athens some 2,500 years ago. The process involved those citizens who could vote gathering together to express
their views, argue and then vote directly on the issues at hand.
With the communication advances the internet has provided us we can get back to this democratic tradition on a national scale. A country would need to
create a single website to host all of these systems.
Forums for discussion only
The forum was the ancient place where such decision making occured. It is only fitting that we give the people of our countries back their access to
this ancient tradition. The large population sizes again pose a problem here. To get around this you create fora for every single town and borough in
the country. These fora are not for voting, they are for discussing issues.
Each town's fora
could have 3 elected representatives (one from each major party) who would take part in a larger fora. This larger fora would
be the parliamentary constituency's fora
which has an elected member of parliament like currently occurs. The elected representatives of the
towns could voice the concerns and wishes of their fora directly to their MP. The MP's then participate in parliament as normal. Again this does not
extend to the decision making process, merely discussion of issues.
The parliamentary constituency fora would only be available for posting by the elected representatives to avoid the obvious choas that would occur
from hundreds of thousands of differing opinions. However the parliamentary constituency fora would be completely public and readable to any one.
As the discussion of ideas is allowed to occur it allows everyone to express their ideas and to sway others. The conclusion of that process is a vote.
In this evolution of democracy everyone gets to vote on all parliamentary level decisions.
To emulate a referendum in such matters the internet is an ideal tool. For those who do not have access to the internet you could substitute a phone
(either voice or SMS).
To ensure a level of honesty in voting, each voter would be issued with an unique voting pin, as well as user name.
Obviously our current governments make many decisions and expecting every voter to vote on every decision is a big ask. But to give the opportunity to
vote in every decision is the goal here, not to have everyone vote. If you feel strongly for or against a certain decision then you vote for it.
The votes would then be tallied electronically and the resulting decision would be according to the majority vote. A list of votes showing user names
and their corresponding vote would be made available to ensure a fair vote.
Another possible addition
How would you feel about having the chance to dictate how your tax is allocated? Would you like the chance to assign percentages of your tax to what
ever you choose? You could choose from a list of programmes such as:
You could then assign what percentage of your tax you feel appropriate.
All of the above systems, including the tax system, could be created and up and running before its real implementation. A virtual country could be set
up to prove its viability as a democractic tool. As an experiment I feel it would be of real interest to a very wide range of people. It would also
allow for any problems to arise before implementation and for any suggestions to be incorporated.
The inclusion of a petition could also be included in the online site. The petition could call for the implementation of the internet in our democracy
as defined in this Op/Ed. If 51% of voters signed the petition real change could be enacted.
Failing that, it could be a major issue at the next general election, with candidates advocating the inclusion of the internet as part of their
This idea is too big for any individual to implement alone. However, it is a matter of "when" and not "if" that the inclusion of the internet will
occur in our democracies. Those of us who would rather see its benefits sooner rather than latter should seriously consider getting in on the ground
floor and kick starting this evolution.
Apathy has killed our democracies. Let the internet abolish it!
Comments, suggestions and offers of help to start this welcome!