Propose Amendments to the Constitution All the ideas and discussions
42 votes Vote

Direct Internet Democracy

The Senate and the House of Representatives shall be disbanded and all Legislative authority shall hence forth rest with a non-anonymous direct democracy of the citizens. To this end, each citizen will be allowed to publish a cryptographic identity (public-key) and votes shall take the form of cryptographically signed statements in a public forum that is operated on a peer-to-peer computer network for which every citizen shall be entitled to operate a node in this network.

joe , 17.10.2011, 06:45
Idea status: under consideration


luvmusic, 17.10.2011, 12:40
I completely disagree. Essentially, what you're proposing is we have a committee of 300 million people responsible for drafting and debating all legislation. Completely unworkable.
joe, 17.10.2011, 17:27
Your objection is not political but technical. Essentially you ask, "How do we cope with the volume?" and you claim there's no solution, when in fact, there are many solutions readily apparent to anyone with a modest background in computer science or software development. For example, suppose the peer to peer network organically clumped participants into groups of 100 and a proposal must be endorsed by a first clump before it is presented to a clump of 100 clumps of 100. It would take only 4 votes for a high quality popular proposal to reach a national audience of 300 million. This solution is just one of many compatible with the proposal.
luvmusic, 17.10.2011, 22:39
No, my objection isn't technical. As someone with 20 years experience in the software industry, I understand what you're saying. But, legislating isn't just about voting. Legislating involves research, debate, negotiation, politicking, and actually drafting up the various proposals. It's actually a full time job, as it should be.
DMFairchild, 20.10.2011, 05:58
I agree with luvmusic. I once drafted an ordinance for our planning board, of which I was a member. The effort involved in getting that written and re-written and then voted on at the town meeting was significant. I would like to see more people involved, but this would be anarchy.
JustCubes, 22.10.2011, 19:13
My idea is similar, but no internet.

New legislation by National Public Vote

Not everyone has the net, and it is too easy to manipulate.
edward Machnik, 12.12.2011, 00:04
This idea is totally UNWORKABLE! It illiminate the chance for debate. But most important, the internet systmem will be subject to HACKING. if the pentagon can be hacked so that this idea.
Clay, 28.12.2011, 19:24
The drafting process would be much easier if legislation were written in plain language instead of the legal jargon it is currently written in.

I agree with JustCubes' idea.....
Dustin, 17.01.2012, 18:41
For the sake of argument, let's pretend that your proposal is "workable".

This is the scariest thing I've ever heard when on reforming our government. The federal government may be a mess, but allowing the people to create and vote on legislation would allow for the tyranny of the majority. This is exactly what the founding fathers wanted to prevent. They created the separation of powers to ensure that no single group or "faction" would control government. American was not founded on pure democratic principles, it was founded on the idea of representation. (You'll notice that the would "democracy" or "democratic", etc. is missing from the document, yet "representative" is used throughout.) You elect someone that would then pursue your interests. But then those representatives would have to negotiate and compromise with other representatives.

Do you think it is a good idea to let people vote on everything? You want our government to be like California? In California, everyone votes for every wonderful sounding subsidy, welfare program, labor program, etc. but then they dont want to pay for it. What kind of logical political system is that? If you want government programs you have to pay for it, if you dont want high taxes you cant have any government programs. It's that simple. Otherwise you'll go bankrupt. The people do not have the time nor organization to properly manage government.

Let's focus on the real problems of our federal government: MONEY. When politicians make decisions based on their constituents or ideology and NOT monetary contributions, then our government will function more effectively.
Lester, 06.02.2012, 12:24
I don´t think this is unworkable. I don´t see why an internet architecture couldn´t be created to handle this sort of thing. I mean, why should a law be much harder to write than wikipedia? I agree that there may be some challenges, not the least of which is getting everyone in the country connected.. A tyrany of the majority is one, and could possilby be checked by a court system and civil rights protections. The stupidity of the majority is another one. But here I feel that when Dustin asks "Do you think it is a good idea to let people vote on everything?" he is asking, do you really trust the people to govern themselves? I do.
sirhotalot, 30.03.2012, 23:48
>this would be anarchy.

You mean chaos. Anarchy does not mean chaos, anarchy means without a ruler. This would not be anarchy.

The problem with direct democracy on this scale is a lack of wisdom and knowledge on the part of the voter. This could work, but the specifics would need to be worked out.

I'm picturing something like reddit but instead of websites they would be bills. Bills are already researched and written up by experts before being introduced anyways, but instead of being presented before congress they would be submitted to the website. People will give upvotes to the bills they feel are the most important, and people knowledgeable in the subject will comment on it. As long as time is taken on voting, giving people time to read the bill and comment on it, an informed decision will be made. At which point people can vote on sending it forward to a general vote.
sirhotalot, 31.03.2012, 00:16
The more I think about it the more I like my reddit idea. It would allow for the most informed and knowledgeable people to discuss the bills and inform everyone else. 9 months out of the year can be used to discuss the bills and pass the ones they feel have been thoroughly discussed on to the general vote, then 3 months out of the year people can go through all the bills passed into the general vote, review them, and then vote on them again to pass them into law or throw them out. As this would be the primary method for passing federal laws, it would get serious media attention. There would be a lot of pressure on voters to make the right decision. None of this would be done anonymously so every person would be held responsible for their actions.
Storm Kraken, 02.11.2012, 00:37
Although this is an idea that I like and that I think will have its time eventually, it's not ready for a replacement for Congress yet.

I don't see any technical problems with it that can't be quickly solved though. Sure, a single server or group of centralized servers could be compromised to disrupt the voting process, but a protocol for a distributed, decentralized network could have the potential to work very stably. If you don't believe me yet, look into how Bitcoin works and then keep an eye on it when it or something like it likely becomes very important later. If we can trust the security of our monetary system to a distributed network, we can trust our voting process to it too.

I'm also sure others can think of some good ideas for what the user interface would look like. We would need something that allows (maybe even forces) discussion to happen, but without things getting clogged up in a crowd. Something like Reddit sounds like a good start to me. However, I think it would take a while to perfect this kind of thing into something everyone wants to use.

I think that many of the problems in implementing something like this are going to lie on the social side. Unfortunately, generally the older generations are not going to be familiar with the technology needed for it, and more importantly, they're not going to trust it (even if it was perfectly developed and accessible to everyone). The idea of representation that we use was not a new idea when our country was founded. It took time for people to trust it because of unfamiliarity, and that process had already taken place by the time we declared independence (probably arguably by the time the colonies were being founded too, but that's not my point here). It will also take time for the culture to change into one that fits with this system. People will need to get used to what are and aren't good ways of working with this system.

It's going to take time to iron out the kinks of how exactly it would work too, and it's not fitting to force an experimental system on an entire region of the world. This is the kind of system that should be tried and tested in the states first, just like representative government was before the Constitution was drafted. I don't think we should even get rid of any state legislative assemblies yet. I think a better idea would be to instead start having referendums using a system like we're talking about, and start having many more referendums that is normal at the moment.
NewBlackDak, 25.01.2013, 00:35
This is ridiculous. There is a reason we live in a democratic republic that used to be a constitutional republic before the 16th amendment. Direct democracy is mob rule. Direct democracy is 2 wolves and a sheep decoding what is for dinner. Direct democracy ensures the liberties of someone will be trampled.

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