Casey Kitchel

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Political parties should be banned in the United States of America.

In George Washington's 1796 Farewell Address, President Washington warned the American people of the dangers political parties pose to the nation's government (that of the United States under the Constitution). Considering the current government's stalemate and the abilities of political parties to “divide a nation”, it seems most evident that he was right in expressing his concerns for the future of this country and for the welfare of its people.

As it appears, elected officials are more concerned with maintaining their own party's control over their rivals rather than serving the interests of the people and opens up the debate on whether political parties should continue to dominate politics in the United States of America at the expense of the American people and at the expense of a functioning government.

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    Jun 5 2013: We need to form a party that would ban all parties and then rule "in the name of the people". I think, I've seen this idea. May be, it failed because the party forgot that "all parties" includes itself.

    This appears to be a variation of Russell's paradox (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell%27s_paradox): "Should a party that has an agenda of banning all parties be banned itself?" And who would do the banning? Who shaves the barber who shaves everyone who doesn't shave himself?

    Actually, "banning ourselves" (our own ego, that is) is not such a bad idea. It might have the magic effect of eliminating corruption and oppression.
    • Jun 5 2013: I would say it goes to core beliefs that can be, or are persuaded away from the good of all, to the good of "our group". This is human nature, picking sides and fighting against the other. I see no way to stop it barring massive education reform, and then the other side would say you are brainwashing the people!
  • Jun 29 2013: You should be banned for saying political parties should be banned
  • Jun 20 2013: I personally believe Parties are part of what is destroying our nation. It circumvents the whole aspect of personal responsibility/ accountability and delegates that to the "parties" instead.
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    Jun 17 2013: Political parties have not divided America. Individual ideologies have polarized America. Political parties are merely the organizations where like-minded people congregate to focus and amplify their political clout. 47% of Americans want the government to be responsble for virtually everything. 6% of Americans don't have an opinion about the issues on which we vote. The remaining 47% want constitutional government with all power not specifically given to the federal government to belong to the People or the State. We may be witnessing the birth of a fourth party in America, but for now we have Liberals, the Ignorant and Apathetic "party", and Conservatives. No one is forced to be in any party. Each person expresses their ideology by aligning with a party. Besides, what would a one-party nation look like anyway?
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        Jun 21 2013: Is that you in the video? (Not that I am trying to label you). I agree that the affinity we have for labels, as an organizational tool for all the information we have, has a dark downside. We put too much stock in labels. We treat labels as though they are unassailably correct. We greatly oversimplify an issue by the thoughtless application of some readily available label. Labels are useful but must be carefully constructed and applied, kind of like nitroglycerin, it is probably best to avoid handling certain things which, in the hands of the wrong person, can do harm.
    • Jun 24 2013: First of all, I don't think a one-party nation is being suggested. The proposition is to ban parties altogether.

      If 47% want one thing and 47% want another, and if it really is as simple as that (of course it isn't), then the dissolution of parties shouldn't matter, should it? People would vote the same way, wouldn't they? The reality is that labels do have an effect on how people vote and more importantly on the way members of Congress vote. Members of Congress are swayed by four things: parties, funders, polls, and themselves. I think we can all agree that members of Congress should use their own intelligence to represent the People and that voters should use their own intelligence to evaluate candidates based on ideas and merit.

      On the other hand, it can be argued that parties do serve a useful function. They can get bills passed. Granted, that's not always a good thing with either party, especially if you're fed up with earmarks like I am. But if you are firmly on the side of one party over the other, you might want to keep it alive so it can organize coalitions.

      I'm therefore inclined to think of this is as a debate between partisans and independents--between people who judge quickly based on party or ideology and people who judge slowly based on careful logic. Alternatively, maybe the debate I've described is between idealists and pragmatists. Either way, partisans can be reckless and independents indecisive, and idealists can be simplistic and pragmatists complacent. We all have something to learn from each other here, and I don't think this question has an obvious answer. We could have an interesting discussion.
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        Jun 24 2013: Not only could we have an interesting discussion, I thought we were having one. If you were to come down off the fence which side would you be on? In the USA we have 100 Senators and 435 Representatives. Those 535 votes pretty much determine the course of our nation. Most issues they debate can be viewed from more than one perspective. The big three of those possible perspectives are Liberal/Democrat, Conservative/Republican, and Independent. How could those 535 voters be known if not by party affiliation? Whether we label the various perspectives or not they will exist. Call them "YEA" and "NAY", or "A" and "B", or whatever you like. Even though each of the 535 "use their own intelligence to represent the People" as you say, the most popular two or three positions will cluster into groups. Avoiding naming those groups makes it needlessly more difficult to discuss them. For that reason alone America must have a multi-party system!
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          Jun 28 2013: "For that reason alone America must have a multi-party system!" 1) I disagree. 2) Must!? No. There is ALWAYS a choice.

          "Avoiding naming those groups makes it needlessly more difficult to discuss them." I actually think the opposite. It makes it more complicated by letting their "differences" get in the way before anyone has a chance to rationally discuss the issues at stake.
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          Jun 28 2013: A conservative can be conservative without being a Republican, and a liberal can be a liberal without the need for being a Democrat. Besides, the majority of Americans are not 100% conservative or liberal on every issue.
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        Jun 28 2013: "The proposition is to ban parties altogether." Kunal Puri is right.
    • Jun 29 2013: You missed the idea Ed......no political parties.....period. Not one national party, just a few American people doing the work that needs to be done to administer the nation.
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        Jun 29 2013: The fact is that efficient, intelligent communication requires names; titles;labels; descriptions; categories; classification; taxonomy; etc. Imagine the difficulty of communicating about political and civic matters if you were only allowed to use the term "Participants", with no further descriptive information about your subject persons or groups. Not a good idea! By the way, the name of that single political "PARTY" would be, "Participants", with everyone else being formed into a second party and labeled, by default, "Non-participants". We need the minimum concept of "A" and "Not A" to communicate. Imagine the shoe industry if only the word "shoes" could be used to refer to the myriad variations of the product!
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    Jun 13 2013: I think I figured it out.
    Most Americans don't vote.
    So it is true. ' you get what you didn't ask for'....'nuff said.
  • Jun 9 2013: Unfortunately politicians only see the way to be re-elected and nothing else. The current government wil continue printing US dollars through QE and will cause a huge HYPERINFLATION around 2016-2018. We have to be prepared. http://theelevationgroupreviews.blogspot.com
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    Jun 6 2013: Maybe we should try one man one vote.
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    Jun 1 2013: ...and in the whole World. We are made to think there is no Democracy without parties. Truth is there can only be a true Democracy without parties because: they propiciate corruption; they are a main cause for the professionalization of politics which is obviously anti-democratic; they limit and control the access to law making and decision taking by normal citizens. Parties indeed divide a country unnecessarily as well as behave like companies interested in preserving their place on the "market" and increasing their "profits" in the form of power and jobs for the boys. Also parties cannot be "fired" and sanctioned for improper behaviour of their members, seats just keep rotating. If we had parliaments of independent everyday citizens with highly limited number of mandates possible we would have much more control over those who we elect and that are not doing their work properly or not keeping their promises.
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    Jun 21 2013: I am not sure if as an Indian I am competent to comment on this but I am commenting because constitutions of the US and India have certain similarities (we the people etc.).
    If not outright banning, there should be constitutional control mechanism over political parties, a code of conduct for politicians and a transparency of lives and acts on the part of the politicians for sure. The areas where the interests of a political party may clash with real national interest should be clearly defined too. Moreover, there should be constitutional encouragement to differentiate a true statesman from a party leader.
    There should be constant movement for bringing in talented, well educated professionals into realpolitik.
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    Jun 19 2013: People have already started to grasp that politicians are a bad idea, mainly I suppose because power corrupts, and that love of power is already suspicious in itself.
    The next step would of course to be able to see through the myth of conflict as the best way to make décisions.
    Democracy is still the best system - but what it means is that the beliefs with the biggest support base are the ones that are put into practise. In the USA the 2 political parties have got to a point of being very similar; is all the tribal/partisan posturing really the best way of making décisions?
    But whats the alternative ? - I assume AI is going to play a greater and greater part in the political process - at first through promoting easier participation (eg voting apps) but eventually in order to make economic, social, health décisions; based purely on data - rather than belief - we're looking at a robot president.
  • Jun 13 2013: I think the American public needs to take responsibility for the partisan nature of American politics. We are the ones who have become one issue voters (for/against abortion, for/against gun control, etc.) and we elect people who agree with us on our one issue. I've seen this from both highly educated folks and folks with not much formal education.If we could look beyond our tiny backyards and see that there is a huge range of issues that our country desperately needs to address, perhaps we would be rewarded with multidimensional, thinking politicians. As long as we vote on one dimension, we will have unidimensional representatives.Also, having just read the book Quiet, I suggest that we not be seduced by candidates who have a ready answer for everything. We should not confuse glibness with intelligence. My measure of that is if the candidate can spit out a response without any conscious thought, that response is canned and therefore fake. Give me someone who takes a moment to think before speaking -- but that will never happen in politics (sigh).
  • Jun 11 2013: Maybe the problem is more about how election campaigns are funded than it is about political parties. To reduce the influence of special-interest groups, all election campaigns could be through taxpayer-funded forums. Candidates would submit a deposit (to be returned if the candidate receives 10+% of the vote). That way, candidates wouldn't have to sell their souls for campaign funds. Candidates can list their general philosophy through "party affiliation", but be elected on the basis of ideas rather than campaign funds. There would then be less pressure for elected representatives to adhere to "Party Lines", instead of openly contributing ideas to "Best Practice" solutions to government issues.
  • Jun 9 2013: Same is the case with India too. In India too political parties should be banned . All the democratic countries should ban the political parties and should opt for Direct Democracy.
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      Jun 9 2013: Santokh,

      You're welcome to join this conversation on electronic direct democracy if you wish to discuss it further. http://www.ted.com/conversations/18759/does_your_country_have_an_elec.html?c=687722
      • Jun 9 2013: I have few questions you regarding E2D.

        Since voting would be done electronically, and the Internet seems to be increasingly hacked from inside the US and outside, how can we develop an internet-based election system that we can guarantee would be absolutely secure from hacking that could alter the outcome of elections?

        Our existing legislative body at the federal level consists of two houses -- one with representatives of each state, and the other representing individual districts within each state. How would we have to restructure our present system to incorporate the E2D system?

        Section 4 of this "manifesto" states that elected representatives must always vote on bills in accordance with the views expressed within the Party. Is this putting too much power into the hands of a single entity? What sorts of enforceable controls would be put on this entity that would ensure that its central leadership couldn't manage or manipulate matters for their own benefit?

        Many of the provisions of the manifesto would require major changes to our Constitution. Such changes have to be initiated either by Congress at the national level, or by individual state legislatures. Can you realistically see something like this happening with elected legislators (both at the federal and state levels) whose political campaigns are heavily financed by powerful financial interests would would strongly oppose any such change?

        And, last, the name used for this document is "Manifesto." Don't you suppose that name, as well as the fact that it would put the people back in control of their government, is likely to associate the movement with Communism and the document with the Communist Manifesto, thereby killing the movement in this country before it even gets off the ground here?
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          Jun 9 2013: Hi Jim,

          I'm glad for all your questions, it would however be better if you post any further questions on the Conversation so that others that are also involved in E2D can give you answers for solutions that I'm not aware of. I'm not the leading character of this movement, just a small part. We do have an admin for the E2D website that seems to visit the conversation and he's much better at answering these question then I am. That being said, I'll give you the best answers I can.

          Paragraph 1. This TED Talk is a possible solution http://www.ted.com/talks/david_bismark_e_voting_without_fraud.html.
          But there are also other ways of assuring that the system hasn't been manipulated like comparing the results to opinion polls, and if they differ very much an inquery would have to be made.

          Paragraph 2. We would have party members of a DD party voted onto the position of say the house of representatives for a set period of time, once there s/he is pledged to cast all votes in accordance with the majority of the party.
          Most DD parties want to (at first) exist within the institutions that already exist and change them toward the DD approach,such changes will take time. the only other option would be revolution, and you don't start a party for that.

          Paragraph 3. It is not putting more power into anyone's hands then there is power put in people today, the only difference would be a higher accountability for your voting. If someone would break the pledge they would be disgraced and stripped of power as soon as possible.

          Paragraph 4. see paragraph 2.

          Paragraph 5. Yes, the fear of communism will be a problem. but it is not what any DD party is going for, simply majority rule. And the meaning of manifesto is this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manifesto it has no political siding.

          Hope that helped a bit.

          I'm sure that you have questions to those answers and if you could, could you please post them on http://www.ted.com/conversations/18759/does_your_country_have_an_elec.html
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      Jun 9 2013: Let's see, India is close to a billion in population. DD is functional up to about maybe a 1000 population. After that it's problematic. We learned this in the USA awhile back. So, India could become 100,000 thousand little countries. That should work well.
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    Jun 9 2013: National governments are unnatural assemblies. Why would citizens from diverse regions of a country, with dissimilar environments, needs and hopes, allow a disassociated body to decide, control and enforce?
    Such an arrangement is doomed to fail. The appointed bodies know that and turn inward to their own agenda, casting restrictive nets over the public to prevent intrusion. What else is to be expected? Those fortunate representatives find themselves as guardians of a bottomless source of tax revenue with no independent oversight. Naturally, they battle to retain their seats and duel with those who declare they have better opinions but who are, in fact, identical in their urge to possess numerical dominance for passing legislation that favour their constituents and thus prolong their terms in office.

    If there is no alternative to few serving many, then let it be on the smallest scale possible, where integrity can be closely monitored, transgressions punished, and progress pursued that benefits all in the communities. That is not Utopian, it is common sense.
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    Jun 8 2013: I like this conversation! I like this a lot!

    We've fallen into paralysis because of greed and self-serving politics. Neither party places the needs and the will of the people beyond its own self-serving interest. And that MUST End!
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      Jun 9 2013: Why? And if there were no parties, now what?
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        Jun 9 2013: I'm just complaining about the two parties we have in the USA. And what's the use as they don't do anything but recycle favors for Billionaires & corporations and leave the rest of us in the dirt!
      • Jun 9 2013: " Neither party places the needs and the will of the people beyond its own self-serving interest. And that MUST End!" -- Juan Valdez

        I interpret this as meaning that the practice of putting personal interests ahead of the need and will of the American people must end -- not that political parties must necessarily end. We just need to get people into office like Bernie Sanders, who puts the best interests of our country above political party ideology (he is an Independent) and seems to have adopted our country's best interests as his personal interest.

        Thanks to the billions of dollars that have been injected into partisan politics, our government has been corrupted to the point where we no longer have a republic that is truly representative of the people. Instead, it represents big money interests first and foremost. Government by the people and for the people is now a joke, but not a funny one.

        During the Nixon years, John Dean told the President that there was "a cancer on the Presidency" that must be excised or his Presidency would be in danger. We now have a cancer on our entire political leadership that must be excised our or entire country will surely fail.
      • Jun 29 2013: Each individual would stand on his own convictions!
  • Jun 8 2013: Of course political parties should not exist. They are anti-democracy at its worst. It does not matter if you have two political parties or twenty. Political parties have a broad range of policies that they adhere to. So do citizens. But there is seldom, if ever, a full match between the policies of the political parties and the citizens. I may like the financial policies of one party but the social policies of another. A party system forces me to vote against one or the other. Either way I don't get what I really think would be preferable over-all results.

    But this is actually arguing about where to put the deck chairs on the Titanic after it hits the iceberg. The truth of the matter - that all commenters have so far skirted - is that electing representatives is an unworkable method of selecting democratic management for societies. It doesn't work anywhere it is being used. It has never worked anywhere it has been used. And it is unlikely to ever work. No one man or small group of party owned representatives can properly and adequately represent those who elect them.

    It is unfortunate that so many people have been conditioned to think that "one man - one vote" is what determines democracy. Especially since we know that both votes and men can be - and are - bought regularly. Political parties contribute to this buying of politicians and their votes in governing bodies by seeking contributions to finance election campaigns. "He who pays the piper, calls the tune".... always. Every political party's interests are totally different from citizens' interests. Citizens want good management; political parties want power. When the politicians you elect belong to, and are owned by, political parties, they do not - cannot - represent you. They can only represent their party and its financial backers.

    There is a much better method of selecting society's managers. It's called "Citizens' Democracy". All adult citizens participate in the management of their society.
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    Jun 8 2013: I'd be all in favor of your idea, Casey, if it were legal. Unfortunately, political parties are public associations just as legal as any other, and can't be banned. But they must be tamed, they have arrogated to themselves power that they should not have. As you say, they have become solely concerned about their own power, to the degree that the party that does not hold the presidency works constantly to ensure that the administration will be a failure. This is not in the country's interest, and is not the proper meaning of "opposition," which should imply a reasoned dialogue and assurance that all views be heard. But it's also true that it's a long time since a U.S. President made much effort to bring the opposition party into serious consultations.

    In my opinion, the best solution is for us in the American electorate to get so fed up with our dysfunctional Congress that we vow to elect no one but independents who are committed to electoral reform, particularly to removing the corrupting effect of private money that now drives our elections. This solution is cheap and effective: We simply check off the name of an independent candidate. (I will add that we often have Rep. or Dem. candidates campaigning on the promise that they will work for election reform. Don't believe them. Even if they honestly believe their own rhetoric, as soon as they get to Washington they no longer represent us, they represent their party and they understand who butters their bread. No meaningful election reform can happen as long as these two parties are in power.)

    I've written several essays on this topic on the web site Blue Ridge Journal. A summary of the ideas is here:
    http://www.blueridgejournal.com/brj-congressreform.htm
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    Jun 8 2013: Thinking about it maybe people should have to take a test before they can vote. Ban Stupid people.
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      Jun 8 2013: Would you pass that test? Or how many would? Where do you draw the line for when someone is smart enough to have a say in country affairs?
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        Jun 8 2013: Same way you could identify a political party.... Which makes me wonder? If Political parties were banned would that mean that the Tea Party would not be band but the republican party would?
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    Jun 6 2013: Imagine if you will, a system that is dedicated to presenting the issues at hand to the public and carrying the gathered vote of all eligible citizens forward to their government.

    The mechanism for doing this secure, anonymous, efficient, inexpensive, readily available to all, and watch-dogged by every single participant.

    Government would never again be as we know it. It would be better, stronger, and dedicated to serving the nation it governs.

    Confidence polls in our government would always have a majority as the majority vote would guide us.

    Scandals and corruption would be burned away in the fierce light of the public eye and set right by public vote.

    Such a system has two primary area's of weakness that need to be addressed, and neither of them are that the public is too uneducated to decide whats good for it.

    Funding to establish itself and the infrastructure required to grow it.

    Ensuring the security of the system from corruption and interruption of service.

    Provide these two things and every dissatisfied voter will eventually turn to this system until only it remains.

    Why? Because you want your opinion to matter.

    Today elected politicians throwing the public a crumb while their parties have the banquet is not the exception, it is the norm.

    Voting on the issues your vote weighed with all others on that topic the outcome brought directly to government EVERY TIME will ensure that.

    This one simple fact will draw disenchanted voters away from parties altogether to the referendum representational mechanism until all that is left is the government serving the will of its people.
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    Jun 6 2013: We really need to think about using the technology we’ve achieved to change the way we govern ourselves. We should replace the House of Representatives with the people’s vote directly using the internet, libraries, direct mail or by any other means. Remove any voting from the Senate. Their job will be to present legislation and inform their constituents on how it will affect them so they can make an informed decision.
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    Jun 5 2013: Yup, they all should be banned and everything that they do should be directed and decided by the people. The parties vote on a bill... NO. We vote on the bill, they can write it but we decide for every piece of legislation. We become the House of Reps. We become the Senate. We become the Congress. Then the question of the president would arise, I'm guessing, but I'm not going there :/ . With the tech we have today, as I've stated on other conversations, we can all vote in a matter of a minute. It would take time to read the legislation in question and that would be the majority of it but people have time to do this, which they will deny because they can't miss that game that's on or new episode of whatever people are watching now. Our technology allows us to do things in a very fast manner and this could be one of those things. Then the people would be actively participating in gov't CONSTANTLY instead of voting for someone who IMPLIES they have the same beliefs, motives, or goals only to change their mind in the future without the suggestion coming from the population they represent. I think i kinda ranted a bit there but you guys are smart you get the idea of it. Refine it, improve it, do whatever to it, I'd be happy if you did. We definitely need a change because the way things are now is like 2 kids arguing to their parents, Never ending and immature. For goodness sake, they're more concerned with making the other party look bad than they are about actually SOLVING the issues. This should not sit well with most people who have functioning brains.Again do whatever to this IDEA, I'd be happy that you did. It would just show me I was on the right track and needed someone else to accomplish it, furthering my belief in cooperation over competition. Thanks!
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      Jun 5 2013: Jah,

      I'm part of a party and movement that do exactly what you advocate.
      I would be happy if you joined http://www.ted.com/conversations/18759/does_your_country_have_an_elec.html
    • Jun 6 2013: you're right but you've over-simplified the solution. how can all people be sufficiently informed on every subject as to make the best decision? many seemingly great ideas turn out to be terrible when all the facts are known.
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        Jun 6 2013: People need to be educated on how their government works, there is no doubt about that. Until that is achieved this will only intensify the problems at hand. I would hope that people would be happy to participate once they are able to thoroughly understand.
        • Jun 7 2013: that's the easy part. they also need to know the details of the bills they will be voting on. why would you want the general population voting on things as complex as financial reform or foreign policy? if a bill comes around about libor rates, and people who've never worked in the financial sector and probably don't even know what libor is will make up most of the voters. similarly if a bill was proposed regarding standards of bridge construction, would you want people who don't know anything about engineering voting on it?
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          Jun 8 2013: Ben,

          People that don't know anything (or have an opinion) about taxes won't vote on such things and then they're votes will be cast as blank votes, therefore not affecting the outcome.

          Or you could delegate your vote to a politician (read educated friend or trusted official) that you trust and you think has a good idea on what the question is all about.

          For example: many of my friends trust my judgement on certain topics, on those I could get their vote to represent them and therefore they don't have to know every aspect of everything. So I could represent someone on say Human rights issues and they could represent my vote on education issues. I know many teachers that know way more on education then I do and I would trust them to make a better decision then I would.

          People are already more or less educated, they're just educated on different issues and if we allow people to go into a specific area that they're already good at without doing all the political mambo-jumbo we could release so much potential.
      • Jun 29 2013: That's an intrinsic negative in democracy...complacancy and ignorance. But we can do nothing about that but accept it. at least we should have a proper system in place.
        • Jun 29 2013: yep, and we sort of do, we elect officials who we expect to convene impartial groups of experts to advise them on the best ways to do things so they can make informed decisions, but unfortunately it's become quite corrupted because interest groups put forward their own 'experts' and so even the most honest politician ends up making the wrong choice. that's not to say that our current system doesn't work, it just means that we need to get people trying to influence politicians for their own ends out of it.
  • Jun 5 2013: Well, it is a nice question. Poltical parties are only interested in their welfare only. After winning election they use to plan and work accordingly to win in further election. In this condition the ruling party only concerns about the region from where they get votes and where they can improve by doing some impressive and highlighted work. it becomes a very common problem of our democratic system. If the party conservation is emilimated, the ruling person will work according to the need of people.
    But in this age , it seems quite impossible.
  • Jun 4 2013: I would add: No private funding of candidates. Government should fund debates and publicity based on which candidates were able to get specified number of signatures first.
  • Jun 4 2013: Complete campaign finance reform is the only way of getting money out of politics and good luck in accomplishing this! If we had campaing finance reform, politicians would have the necessary additional time to spend working "for the people"...the foundation of all democracy. It's money and the power it creates which encourages the formation of "Parties" and a government which no longer represents the average citizen. But once they've gained their power/control, they're not abt to give this up in order to regain our intended democratic form of government. It would require a complete revolution and the subsequent re-building of our nation and in the process, we would lose our control over the planet. GOOD LUCK!
  • Jun 4 2013: Put it on the political agenda as a first on the to list .
    The lobbyists vs the people .
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    Jun 3 2013: G'day Casey

    In the world.

    People in these Political parties serve their party first & then their backers & then maybe the people who they are suppose to serve which of course has nothing to do with democracy. True democracy has spokes people who speak for their constituents & if they don't they are out in some cases quite immediately.

    Love
    Mathew
  • Jun 2 2013: I don't think political parties should be banned. What I see is that they should be supplanted by a higher form of civilization. Politics only exists the way it does because of a very few things that have been overcome. One is paper. Government observes the politics of paper. And paper is open-ended. We accept that we can just communicate but we can't demand attention or categorical answers. Thus we still live partly in the age of the printing press. And we have layers of "representative" democracy with huge cracks and places for corruption. Now let's realize two things, one, we can make a template for an entire accomplishment instead of passing letters back and forth. We can build in mechanisms that close the ends of paper. What's more, we don't have to have layers of representatives going off to place where there are limited time slots and the inability for people to turn linear information on paper into dynamic knowledge. We therefore bring the government to the people and use the entire time spectrum--no more of this elitist Congressional vacation crappola. Lives are at stake. Further, we have heard people say technology "flattens hierarchies". Well it doesn't unless we make it so. It is possible to replace the model of representative democracy with true democracy in egalitarian collectives. Journalism can be radically changed to be part of the progress engine. I have explored all these things for over 20 years so I am not just musing out loud for the first time. The only questions are can you achieve an ideal? where should it start to prove it's power? Can it be self-sustaining and profitable? Can you get enough money to make it through the period of getting enough talented people to give their all? And can you set precedents that leave no vulnerabilities for others to come and squash you? Do we need permission? No. Is there anyone who can grant that much permission? No. Is there anything in politics or government that can reform itself to this level? No.
  • Jun 2 2013: I rather agree with your proposition; however, I can also see that parties - especially a two or three party system - have the ability to organize, coalesce and focus issues, actually have more incentive to compromise. To explain, "bi-partisan" action yields a higher level of justification of political action, and a higher level of societal cohesiveness,

    I think the United States needs public financing of elections as the only real way to fix the obsession to obtain money, the absolute necessity for vast quantities of money in politics, necessary to compete in US politics. Only public financing of elections will address this problem, and return representative government to the people.

    A second important change, would be to force the Senate to change its rule on filibuster, which is now a filing of a one page form by Senate leadership, which by filing, prevents a Constitutionally mandated simple majority vote where the Vice President (the Senate President) breaks a tied vote, requiring a 2/3's majority vote instead, which is not what the Constitutional stipulates. Our present paper filing to require a 2/3 majority, is quite extra-Constitutional. I believe it is not Constitutional.

    Reorganizing both Senate and House Committee structure would help, as well. I read that the last Supreme Court Nominee had to appear before 113 committees, many two or three times, before a confirmation vote. There is considerable redundancy of responsibility and power, originally providing work-a-rounds of obstinate members, but the system now allows any committee chairman, or a few committee members to block any legislation for any reason. I have over simplified this problem, but combined with money politics, this becomes a real problem. Maybe eliminating money from politics, will mitigate this problems too. Certainly committee politics is where lobbyist thrive.
  • Jul 1 2013: Spot on. And Religion has also weeded its way into our political parties. Thomas Jefferson warned against that.
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    Jul 1 2013: Well. In my understanding, you want to ban any organization. Are you crazy? I am not so much.
  • Jun 30 2013: The problem, as I see it, is that the "monied interests" (call it banks, CEO's, Wall Street, the parties or caved-in politicians) have usurped their powers to the point where they are no longer answerable to the "people". This has created a problem as the electorate's desires are no longer being heard/listened to. Much as the banks were determined to be "too big to fail". When organizations, including the parties, no longer listen to their electorate, they must go in one way or another.
  • Jun 29 2013: I was just viewing the pictures from the bottom of the ocean and I wanted to learn more about things I know little about.
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    Jun 29 2013: But, aren't each of us responsible for the representatives we elect?
    Is the perverse nature of the District of Columbia corrupting our representatives? Two possible solutions:

    1. We turn DC into a national park with monuments and museums... moving the government to....
    I don't know.... Liberal Kansas? It's kind of centered in the country.
    2. We put our representatives into the maelstrom and pull them out after a short time so they don't get too corrupted...
    term limits.
  • Jun 29 2013: ...what we deserve is a devastating revolution and start all over again with nothing...!
    I disagree that humans are not self-serving and selfish. I think that's where some of our intrinsic problem lies: we have become so self consumed, spoiled and advanced(???), that we no longer feel we have need for one another. Instead of being a co-operative, mutual aid society, we have become fractionalized into Republican vs. Deocrats, whites against blacks, enemies vs. friend, have vs. have-nots that it's become a useless pasttime just stomping on others in a mad rush to obtain the summit. Which, of course, no one ever reaches alone!
  • Jun 29 2013: But I wonder if we do not live in a sort of police state since none of our politicians follow the expressed wishes of their constituents. Once elected, they do as they please.
  • Jun 29 2013: Parties are one of orgnizations which is man-made problem to make unequal amond people.
  • Jun 28 2013: That kinda puts a damper on freedom of association. What should be banned are laws that make it hard for new parties to access the ballot box.
  • Jun 27 2013: I feel personally that parties should be abolished and that citizens should elect PEOPLE ( for what they individually stand for) but good luck with enacting this agenda!
  • Jun 26 2013: How do you propose to eliminate political parties? It cannot be done without prohibiting all human communication. When two people agree on a political issue and decided to cooperate with each other, you have a political party, regardless of whether or not it is enshrined in law.
  • Jun 21 2013: In case you guys wanted to know my unrealistic ideas... lol
    1. I think there should be one representative for this country as a whole, so yea keep the president, and VP for just in case scenarios.
    2. Instead of congress, who is just as corrupt as anything else, they should be replaced with the governors that sit at the round table with the president and the cabinet. Since they're most involved with the states.
    3. Then mayors who consult with the governors, councilmen/women who consult with the mayor.
    4. We should remove our troops that are in other countries unwanted, set them up on and within our borders
    5. Only troops we release will be, A. in cause of a war or B. on some peace corp type mission to help other countries
    6. No secretive meetings, all info disclosed to citizens only through whatever means is more secure, we need to make citizenship more exclusive.
    7. All officials are voted on by the people, all issues/laws/acts are voted on by the people and carried through by the government. We the people should have the right to remove a police officer/military officer who is being unethical or abusing their position, as with any government official. no one has unlimited passes to be appointed, only 2 terms for each government position.
    7. We need to put morality and ethics back into the government and back into the people, things need to change about the kind of behavior we promote in our media, we should promote more ethical, peaceful, considerate behaviors.
    8. And lets start chopping some of these laws that are merely forms of aggressive marketing and sales for sponsoring companies.

    And lets celebrate individualism, all these labels are dumb that's why there are so many sub labels, no one completely agrees with one party unless they're forcing themselves to

    Please don't be too harsh on my unrealistic-ness. lol.
    • Jun 24 2013: The reason we can't just get rid of Congress and replace it with the governors is because then the urban districts will have a major advantage over the rural districts. It's the same reason Congress has two chambers. The reason that Congress is corrupt isn't because it exists; it's because special interests pay for political campaigns. We need to instate a limit on campaign contributions, and it needs to be really low. Candidates should be forced to use low-cost methods of communication such as Youtube.
      • Jun 29 2013: Not necessarily true about urban regions....a flat tax would help create an even playing field. I mean ten percent of any and all income for every one earning a living and that includes especially corporations and banks. Wrong about congress....the reason congress is corrupt is because it is inhabited by corruptible humans. The smaller the number of people involved in governing the smaller the chance there will be corruption. We can't get away from the fact that people can be corrupted. I do, however, agree with your idea of limits on contributions, but I would take it further and declare a ban on any corporation making donations to any political party. Individual contributions can be set at a low number.
    • Jun 29 2013: Your idea is brilliant. Non partisan 'managers', which is what governors are and a non partisan chairman, which is what the presidential office could represent would be of immeasurable benefit to your country. There will be a lot of opposition to the idea of change in the form of government....but don't be dissuaded. Humans tend to react to change the same way.....it scares them because it represents the unknown. 'Better the devil you know than the devil you don't' is a well known failing of our species. As much as the ideals behind your government are sound, the administration of all ideas depend on people and, unfortunately, people can be bought. That is why existing legislation on corporate law has to be dramatically curtailed. Corporations need to be confined to their country of origin. Internationalism has given strength to the greedy and power mad executives of the world. Outlaw all donations to government by corporations and institute a flat tax of 10% across the board to all corporate incomes. The federal reserve bank needs to be closed down and banned for eternity. Allowing a privately owned company to have control or influence on the nations finances is a BIG mistake. Banks need to be nationalized for the length of time necessary to fine comb through their assets and practices so they are much more transparent to the auditor general and his staff of forensic accountants. Keeping banks and corporations within reasonable boundaries, transparency of operation and continuous scrutiny of their transactions will result in a much lower rate of crime and a lessening of the tax burden from the middle class to corporations that currently make massive profits and pay little or no taxes..

      There's a lot more that needs to be done and I think your ideas are worth developing. It would be good to see government 'of the people for the people' don't you think?
    • Jun 29 2013: Uniqea, i thoiught your thoughts were interesting and unique like your name. You write like a thinking person.
  • Jun 21 2013: Our constitution is what gives us the power over the government and politics, our lack of confidence and fear of the government and police is what leads to the government taking power and becoming corrupt, thus corrupting us through various mechanisms such as the media, news, education, etc.
    I believe the federal government needs to be chopped ALOT. Our country needs to be more about the people and less about the government, the reasons we go to war and have global disputes have nothing to do with us, and I have a problem with that, I have a problem with not knowing the true nature of our issues internally and with others.
    So upon chopping up the government, lets invade their privacy, as a public servant, no more work-related secrets for them. I like that.
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    Jun 19 2013: As the people who are in charge of voting and therefore in essence "hiring" politicians it's our responsibility to weed out the unqualified candidates through a type of "help wanted ad".
    An internet voting site on issues would be easily designed and each social issue that people want to see addressed is then assessed and prioritized. A potential candidate navigates through that site and attempts to pull together solutions to as many of the issues and their platform is then based on what they can offer to the people based on what our actual needs are. Instead the political system operates where politicians get up and tell us what should be our important issues and then tell us they're going to address them but never provide any insight as to how. We are then faced with chosing the candidate who fits in with our moral make-up the best which is often times neither except for 1 glaring point that we either can't live with or can't live without and that ends up making the decision for us.

    We hire them and they should be handing in a resume that fully defines what they have to offer based on the preferred qualifications we've provided. If a figure fails to perform to our standard we have to proactively step up and publicly announce our disappointment and the desire to go another direction. Political figures need to fear that we will react when they fail the position we've bestowed upon them by inaction and inattention to our deepest concerns. The first politician to be publicly shamed will set an example for the ones to follow that we are a force to be reckoned with.

    A two party system makes absolutely zero sense when there are a vast number of diversified groups and each has specified social concerns to be addressed.
  • Jun 15 2013: There is clearly a kind of lock-in operating for politicians: to get elected, they need money, and to get money, they must favor to special interests. How about this idea: just as jurors, part of elective bodies is not chosen, but is instead randomly selected from the population/populace? One can modify this idea: make the fraction of juror parliamentarians equal to the fraction of people that do not vote. I am certain that political discussions would become less boring; moreover, there would be more people in parliaments that are open minded. It might also result in making visible that the politicians that we have now are not that bad compared to a random selection of the population. If such randomly chosen people do well, they might be electable by regular election. Another modification: people could volunteer for such random parliamentarian positions, although I fear that you would get a lot of cranks and nuts this way. Has anyone else ideas on how this proposal could be improved?
  • Jun 13 2013: The issue of Political parties and lobby groups who get elected on false promises and then do for themselves can be solved in any democracy by one simple change. We trust each other to vote our conscience and to protect each other from graft and outside pressures we give each other the power of a SECRET vote. This trust must be extended to our politicians. Give them a secret vote on all matters and we would see the demise of all lobby groups and the tremendous weakening of political parties as those elected officials would be able to vote uncontrolled just as we all expect of ourselves. Bet this would increase turnout to vote as the vote would not seem to be wasted. Look at the mess we have made of pollsters with our own secret vote!!
    • Jun 29 2013: I believe that we are truly living in a sort of police state where parties and "our elected representatives" do not listen to their constituents any longer and have resorted to looking out for #1. history teaches us that all precvious "democracies" (Greek, Roman, Eqyptian) all collapsed after 2-300 years due to one major weakness: the original moral foundations eventually become replaced by selfish, mercenary greed and corruption. Getting all money out of politics would be a good starting point of reformation by complete campaign finance reform. Cmpaigns would only be allowed on free public airways/media, 2 term limits and OPEN government. But I fear we have gone past the time for reform and our democracy will die as others before us.
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    Jun 11 2013: I would like to say ‘political parties should not be banned’, but the rule of political parties must be changed. In my idea ‘a representative’ must represent voters ‘not political party’. Whoever is elected must serve the people, not the party.
    I greatly encourage you to sacrifice couple minutes of your time to get the entire idea at:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOmwFmMAkrk
    Thanks.
    • Jun 29 2013: Your UTUbe video looks intriguing but went too fast to digest in full.
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        Jun 30 2013: You can ‘pause’ any time or watch as many times as you need.
        Thanks
    • Jun 29 2013: Peter.....if you do what you have always done, you will get what you always got. Political parties are not necessary and, in fact, are a major part of the problem.
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        Jun 30 2013: ‘Not necessary’ does not mean ‘banned’. Yes, they are a major problem. If people want to establish an organization they are free to do so. Political parties may exist. It is not a problem. They should NOT rule the country.
        • Jun 30 2013: I think I understand what you mean. Political parties are fine, but they must have no power to rule. If I'm off the point please correct me. Organizations have a tendency to want to influence others with their opinions, philosophies, ideas etc. I use, as examples, religions and existing political parties. History has shown us, over and over, that there is nothing quite as stupid or as dangerous than a large group of humans with similar ideas and political agendas.
          It is my opinion, that politics and democracy have outlived their usefulness as instruments of civilization. Allowing political parties to exist will eventually necessitate banning them. It is more than a truism to say that if we don't learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it. Political systems need to be reassessed for their usefulness to mankind as a whole. Since, it now appears that, any influential politician is in the employ of banksters and grasping executives, and using their offices to create laws that serve the agendas of the corporate greedies that currently own our planet, I stand for any change that will take the power to legislate away from corporations and their minions and put it back into the hands of those of us with more humanistic viewpoints.
  • Jun 10 2013: I agree 100% regarding the corruption of political parties. Seems like our representatives go by the following priorities:
    1. Themselves
    2. Their political party
    3. Their local constituents
    4. The welfare of their State
    5. The welfare of the Nation

    In my opinion the priorities should be in exactly the opposite order!

    Not sure how one might disband political parties without violating our Constitutional rights. Maybe we should amend the latter and select legislators by lottery - it would be truly "representative"! :-)
    • Jun 11 2013: i hear thee. Yet our nation not only tolerates prioritization indifference, our electorate proliferates party politics to continue dismantling the nearly extinct social contract.
      • Jun 29 2013: ...yet no one is happy and almost all have lost confidence in our gov't! No one cares anymore as represenatives no longer listen to their constituents.
  • Jun 10 2013: Mike: It may be true that it is all just rhetoric, but i still think it is a shame that we cannot rely on the top people in our government to tell the truth.
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    Jun 10 2013: Every form of government is prone to the danger of individuals or exclusive collectives who could package their selfish interests as national/citizens' interests.

    I think democracy provides avenues for the expression of disapproval for insensitive and inefficient governance.

    People should know when to unite and speak with one voice.
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    Jun 10 2013: Well when you look at politics from an overall perspective from democratic, communist, socialist and even dictatorships there is at least over half that is open to corruption.
    If you look at US politics you sometimes wonder who is actually running it, the people voted for or the Gun and Religious right.? Cashed up Lobbyists that offer shall we say "incentives" for votes on certain issues. (Not just federal but also local government)

    The most overused word in Politics and Government agencies at the moment is TRANSPARENCY what a load of festering horse poo that is. What is transparent??? To whom what and when??? and only when it suits the powers that be

    Politicians do need to be bought kicking and screaming back into the real world some of their mandates when it comes to health welfare and education are just so wrong it is not funny. ( this general btw not just US)

    There needs to be more regulation on Politicians and Lobbyists. More auditing of records and movements.

    But in the end there has to be some kind of governing body and also someone we can blame and bitch about when some thing happens or goes wrong.
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      Jun 12 2013: Hi Morgan,
      Welcome back. It is refreshing to hear a point of view some 10000 miles from the forest. Of course, from that far away it is sometimes a tad fuzzy, so to bring you up to speed, The US is being run by the people voted in.The gun nuts and right wing religious kooks have been silenced by the national media.
      The cashed up lobbyists also serve at the pleasure of the people voted in. Health, Welfare and Education programs here have been attended to. The new health care law has been funded guaranteeing millions of new paying customers for big insurance companies. See cashed up lobbyists above. The Department of Education has provided billions in funds to public schools and a new curriculum that all but assures a sufficient number of poorly educated people to support the welfare programs and a secure voting block for the people currently voted in. So, now you are up to speed on current events.
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        Jun 12 2013: G;day Mike,

        thanks for the welcome back and thank you for clarifying the current situation in the US for me you are quite correct I am 10,000 miles out of the forest and some people think hanging upside down too ;-)
        Seems us gumleaf munchers are taking a leaf out of the US book of politics as you may or may not know we have a federal election coming up and of course they all making promises we know none of them will keep. Including, same deal ,have to have private health as well as national health system otherwise your tax bill goes up.

        Our biggest problem is the majority of the population can't stand the two major contenders.
        There should be a universal rule that if you don't like them they should not be allowed to be voted in. (Voting is compulsory down here)
        It would be nice to see Poli's with some backbone and actually follow through on promises made and kept not back-flipped on.
        Oh well there is always a visit to Disneyland left
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          Jun 12 2013: My sympathy on your candidate choices.
          I can tell you over the years ( I been to the polls 13 times ) have had to pinch my nose as I cast my ballad.
          Our national problems are probably very similar. Heath Care, Environment, Employment, Taxes, etc., etc.
          Voting is not compulsory here. Sometimes, I wish it was, I have suggested to my representative to make election day a national holiday. I got a dirty look. We have terrible turnout and the nonvoters seem to yell the loudest about the elected officials. I like to think it's divine punishment.
  • Jun 9 2013: I think political parties and politics in general is necessary.

    The human being is not a self-sufficing creature, thus is always found in some sort of aggregation I.e country, village, family etc .
    ONE could argue that it was evolutionarily advantageous for mankind to live in aggregation.
    Family is the lowest level of these aggregations, the average family represents an elementary political structure, it has the characteristics of dictatorial and monarchial political structures, I'm alluding to the "whatever I say goes" mentality most parents have.
    If the lowest form of aggregation exhibits political structure, so too must the higher forms (countries).
    Thus politics will always exist in one form or another, it can't be eradicated without sacrificing the well-being of individuals in the aggregation.

    My problem with politicians is their failure to follow thru on promises they make during election time.
    I'd like to propose a stipulent in the electoral process stating that if an elected party does not carry out a certain proportion (say 80%) of its promises,that party is removed from office and banned from taking part in the next elections, another vote takes place as soon as they are removed and banned.
    • Jun 29 2013: Good luck accomplishing that!
      • Jun 29 2013: Ha ha...i don't see it happening either, society is naive, we are in need of a good dose of rational thinking.
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    Jun 9 2013: Great point of view!

    Unfortunately this is not an easy thing to shut down, but just this knowleadge already is a great thing to people all around the World. Not only USA.
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    Jun 9 2013: Previously, I posted a comment addressed to Ashley, who is not an American and had questions about the electoral college. Many Americans didn't fully understand about the electoral college and the constitution, as they stopped really teaching civics in public schools about 50 years ago.
    In response to this debate, I would take the position that in spite of ranting of muckrakers in tabloids and now in blogs,
    and acknowledging President Washington's concerns, the function of current government is about as it usually is and has been. This country has been attacked, invaded, had a civil war, economic depressions ( a lot bigger then the current one) and has continued with two major political parties.
    More then one political party is a necessary evil when you think of countries with only one. Countries with more then two have another set of problems. Coalitions are made and broken and in some cases governments must be elected.
    There are countries that change governments like I change socks, maybe more often. My personal hygiene aside, political parties in the USA should not be banned.
  • Jun 9 2013: Politicians and political parties have turned their priorities upside down, creating new American aristocracies (which our founding fathers sought to escape), to the detriment of our middle and lower socioeconomic classes. This is the way I feel their priorities should be:

    1. Our country and its people – “We the people,” the first three words of the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution.
    2. The people of the state or district from which they were elected, regardless of any political affiliation.

    Ideally, it should stop here, but realistically, we know it probably won't, but the next priorities should be minimal and at a far distance from the first two,

    3. The people from their home state or district who voted them into office or who belong to the same political party.
    4. Their financial backers (lobbyists, self-serving corporations, special interest groups, and wealthy financiers).
    5. Their political party, providing support for their platforms to gain their endorsement and support.
    6. Their own self-interests (usually pride, prestige, and wealth), but primarily getting re-elected.

    Instead, this is how their priorities actually stack up:

    1. Their own selfish interests, especially re-election.
    2. Their political party.
    3. Their financial backers.
    4. The people from their home state or district who voted them into office or who belong to the same political party.
    5. The people of their home state or district, regardless of any political affiliation or voting record.
    6. Our country and its people.

    References: "Big Problems with Our Two-Party System" and "Congress Ignores the Will of the People"
  • Jun 8 2013: Are political parties primarily fund-raising organizations? Do they truly pursue the platforms they espouse every 4 years at their conventions? Really?
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      Jun 9 2013: Did you expect them too?
      • Jun 9 2013: Don't you think we have the right to expect them to stick with the platforms they adopt? If they don't, then what use are their platforms -- other than a deceitful tool to gain votes for re-election?
  • Comment deleted

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      Jun 9 2013: Feel free to keep your political parties. :- o
  • Jun 8 2013: Nothing wrong with political parties. The dangers I see for your system almost all stem from everybody knowing who is a member of which party. Knowing this, one party can - as Republicans have done and are now doing - re-arrange district voter-boundaries so most of the new districts have a majority in them of the party who is just doing the gerry-mandering.

    For a people like Americans who so much love privacy and treasure their freedom, this revealing of party is ludicrous and is wide open to every kind of tinkering and fiddling that anyone can think of. I do not believe any other country in the world has this kind of system. Why is it anyone else's business which party you like?

    The electoral college is another abomination on the face of American politics/government. Presidential elections should be simply ONE MAN - ONE VOTE. End of voting , end of electyion

    I'd like someone to explain the supposed benefit of the whole world knowing in advance how you vote.

    And even more explain that strange electoral college which seems to destroy the meaning and value of your votes


    Ashley
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      Jun 9 2013: OK, the electoral college confuses outsiders... and confuses some Americans. I think it happened about 50 years ago when public schools stopped teach civics. They also stopped teaching home economics. Another questionable move.

      But, the electoral college.
      OK, you see the president and vice president as the Chief Executive Officer(s) of the Federation of the United States are elected by the states through the electoral college. People dropped Federation out of the name, but by our constitution, we are a federation of 50 states.
      Now we do love our privacy and treasure freedom. Americans do not have to affiliate themselves with a political party, it's a personal choice. I myself do not affiliate with a party. It's my choice. Others are proud of being Democrats or Republicans and that is their choice. That's the American way.
      As an American, sometimes I am confused about how other countries govern. Just because I don't fully understand, I won't refer to them as abominations, but that's just me.
  • Jun 8 2013: I think it is a crucial issue of corporate-settler nexus round the globe needs to be think about critically.

    Even after 7000 years of so-called civilization, so-called welfare states have no safe drinking water even for their citizens to give but they have plenty of bombs, small arms and mines as well as terrorist organizations used in regular course of action relating to more involvement with arms trade day by day. Instead of paying attention to the basic needs and values of the so-called welfare states are rather trying to strengthen their corrupt political stability with corporate nexus at any cost which is responsible for alienation of young people from the main stream of society. Then who cares about poverty, children malnutrition, safe drinking water, primary education and community health?
  • Jun 8 2013: Politicians have only two problems, to be relelected for life and contributions to finance their relections campaigns and period. Just Look to the actual president of USA. In his first term he authored and passed just one sinigle law, the famous Obamacare. And he get reelectd for a second term to continue to do just nothing important for people. And here come the question, Who is the quilty for this? The answer is the people who voted for him. Please, don't blame the political party for this fact, blame the people who vote for anybody who talk in an elegant way,and don't care about the content of his promises
    • Jun 9 2013: Luis,

      You are absolutely right on your first point. Our "representatives'" have re-election as their highest priority, and it takes increasing amounts of money to accomplish that. Therefore, politicians kowtow to the big money interests (including Wall Street, big corporations, and the wealthiest members of our society) to get those contributions, and then these same elected officials pass legislation that favors them, to keep those contributions coming.

      And, as far as I am concerned, you are also right on your second point. It is the voters who allowed this to happen , sometimes by voting a straight party line, and sometimes by voting over and over again based upon name recognition (usually the incumbent), which is why we have had more than 100 members of Congress who have served there for 36 to 57+ years). And 16 of these "representatives" are still in office.

      Too many people think that their vote is not important, or that it doesn't matter if they vote or not. They do not realize that they are killing our democracy in the process by enabling this cycle to continue in perpetuity.

      However, I will differ with you on your last point. I will blame the two major political parties for taking advantage of this situation to their own benefit and to the detriment of the country and its people whose interest they are supposed to represent. They twist and spin the truth in such a way that it is exceedingly difficult to tell what exactly the truth is. They lie about their opponents and cover up things about themselves. It would be nice if they could be hooked up to a lie detector every time they open their mouths. :o)

      Our politicians are masters at convincing people, and millions of our citizens fall prey to it every election. It is up to those of us who see through these shenanigans to inform and educate those who fall for their propaganda to the extend that they often vote against their own (and their country's) best interests.
  • Jun 8 2013: Direct democracy by a public poorly informed of the broader implications of their choices could be as dangerous, if not more so, as the very narrow choices made by our politicians based on greed and power. The people with the most money, charisma and cunning would provide the "education" that the public receives to decide on public issues. Few of us have the time to research and become fully informed on one major topic, much less a broad variety of them. A better foundation for public involvement in decision-making is well presented in Tom Atlee's book Empowering Public Wisdom, with the use of Citizen Deliberative Councils (CDCs) and Wisdom Councils. Input from those councils would be particularly useful if broadly established and made a legally integrated part of the decision-making process. Tom also presents a good argument against direct democracy without the appropriate educational foundation.
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      Jun 9 2013: Isn't that a little like Plato saw it some 2500 years ago? So, our country should be run by "smart" people.
      • Jun 9 2013: Run via a smart system, not smart people. But informed people, yes. Direct democracy without being well informed can have very poor vision and make poor, uninformed choices. Citizen Deliberative Councils (or Wisdom Councils) are a randomly selected group of 50-500 people (thus representing a broad set of views), placed into an isolated, but transparent setting (all proceedings viewable by media and the public), given unbiased facilitation by professional facilitators, with a neutral set of guidelines (see Dynamic Facilitation), given access to a broad set of information sources (experts, internet, etc.), given a specific problem to review, deliberate on the problem for 3 days to 5 weeks, depending on the complexity and importance of the problem, coming to a consensus on what they can agree on as desirable solutions, present the consensus opinion and dissenting opinions, make those opinions available to voters or other deciders to aid in decision making. A decision is made on how to handle that problem. This process would provide a relatively unbiased source of information from a diverse set of people. Sounds complex, but it has been shown to be effective (see Oregon's Citizens Initiative Reviews for an example). Such a group could even be given concurrent decision or veto capability in legislation. The next CDC, dealing with an entirely new problem, would involve a completely new set of randomly selected people. My explanation is, admittedly, sketchy, in the limited space provided here. Please take some time to read the book, Empowering Public Wisdom.
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          Jun 9 2013: It sounds almost to good to be true.
          Let's see if I understand. Large groups of people will get together in a transparent environment, make complex decisions aided by facilitators and once the decision is made it would be enacted into law or what ever. For the next issue and other group, etc....
          As opposed to the way it works now, every two years, I am bothered by inane commercials interrupting my ball games and on election day, I go down to the polling place and cast my vote for someone else to put up with governing and I go on with my business. I am afraid under your system I may get caught up in one of these councils. I don't have time for this.
  • Jun 8 2013: I feel that the root of all our political problems is...MONEY. Enacting full campaign finance reform will return our government to it's intended 'democracy' and having "honorable" individual's seek office. It would thereby negate the intense and selfish mercenary interests of "parties".
  • Jun 8 2013: I think the problem is less about group think and more about money. Each party now serves its own group of narrow financial interests. Campaign finance reform is a start. Couple that with term limits and that might limit the power of the lobbyists and campaign donors.

    I'm not completely in favor of unrestrained direct democracy because too often the mob is wrong and vulnerable to demagoguery . Sometimes it's necessary to take a principled stand against the will of the majority and that's where a body like the Senate should help to exercise a restraining influence.
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    Jun 8 2013: Thank you Jimmy I have done so and am enjoying your advice.
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    Jun 7 2013: Direct Democracy does not have to be difficult to impliment. All that is necessary is secure polling over the internet. Once there is input by a large body of voters, the politicians will have to accept guidance by that expressed will of the poeple. From there, it is small step to thier elimination. As the voters realise that their vote actually has value and effect, many more will participate. In a democracy the voters rule, so lets rule.
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    Jun 6 2013: Great question - as a Pommie from the other side of the pond we have exactly the same problem - self serving party members more interested in supporting party politics than what's good for the people - this filters down from national to hyper local politics.

    Technology is certainly part of the delivery & debate system & so part of the solution

    What we need first though is a willingness & openness & acceptance from parties & individuals alike that there needs to be a change

    We recently had regional/local elections - last month - with an average turnout of 30% across the UK - with a disaffected population how will change ever occur when there is no pressure there to push for it?

    I don't see this happening for some time to come because the funding & internal hierarchies of the parties is geared around top down centralised ideas - based on monarchy/empire/industrial thinking

    Once you've got power why will you give it up?

    Unless you have enlightened inspirational leaders

    This we don't!

    The UK is going backwards not forwards!

    Yes we are slowly offering data for public consumption & hear rhetoric about openness - with even some legislation heading in a more open direction - except we'll be broke or bankrupt by the time any of these outcomes hits the streets.............

    My observations of the US seem pretty similar ;-)
  • Jun 6 2013: i don't think we need to go that far, but it certainly would help to do away with all the labeling that americans seem to be so fond of. in my usual life i'm a 30 year old male, but usually when talking to an american i'm suddenly a 30 year old center-leaning liberal male, and people decide whether i'm right or wrong based on my affiliation rather than if what i'm actually saying makes sense or not. the result of this is you get people who vote for a person or party rather than reasonable policy, and the psychology of teams ends up playing a big part in a decision that should be based on informed and reasoned consideration.
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    Jun 6 2013: Hi Casey

    Suggest Alternatives.

    Every one agrees system need to change.
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    Jun 5 2013: Agreed. But what can we do? The majority doesn't recognize this problem and in fact, they prefer the separation of the nation. How many people do you know that relish a good political debate with the opposing party? Most people feel the need to belong to a specific group. It's in our genetic make-up to do so, for most anyway. Then you have those that can think on their own, as opposed to those that prefer to be told what to do.
  • Jun 4 2013: I believe that until/unless the American voter votes for the PERSON, rather than by Party, our democracy is at risk. But this requires more voter time spent on research and I am not optimistic that the average voter is willing to spend the additional time required for personal judgements to be made. Our present society relies far too much on the "quick fix", to their own detriment. But they know not what they're doing!
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    Jun 3 2013: I completely agree with you, Casey. Political parties directly lead to corruption in government. The not only divide the country but also take away the people's power and influence. What say do I really have in a vote if I only choose between two corrupt people who represent corrupt parties controlled by corporations and driven by the need to stay in power? Serving the people is secondary to this government. Politicians are more concerned about grabbing power for themselves and pandering to the corporations that fund their campaigns.
  • Jun 3 2013: A NICE DICTATOR - the perfect solution to Americas political system.

    Good things get done fast because theres no senate getting in the way of change.

    Lets face it there are too many idiots that vote for stupid things to risk democracy.
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    Jun 3 2013: (Part 3, Oh my I just go on and on don't I?)

    My current party (which is called "Aktiv Demokrati", Active Democracy) is a part of the Electronic Direct Democracy (E2D) Party Movement.
    It lacks any ideology and any representative pledges to follow majority vote on any question or resign.
    We are still small, but the movement is spreading and the E2D manifesto has been adopted by parties in at least a dozen countries around the world.
    But there doesn't seem to be one in the US which is quite weird to me...

    I guess what I wanted to do was share my story in politics and also suggest that you check out the E2D manifesto and if you're interested have a look at my party's manifesto.

    E2D Manifesto: http://e2d-international.org/manifesto/
    Active Democracy Manifesto: http://aktivdemokrati.se/manifesto/
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      Jun 8 2013: Bless you for wanting to get rid of partisan parties. That's the right spirit, but...

      The U.S. Congress deals with more than 5000 bills each year. Your system would totally saturate the public with requests for votes, and citizens would do little else but read bills. Most citizens would tire and drop out of the system, leaving participation to the eager partisans. (This is how communist parties gained control of labor unions in Europe years ago - keep the union meeting going with speeches and arguments 'til past midnight, when everyone else is worn out and has left, then vote on the important questions.)

      I'm afraid that the idea that citizens who don't have good knowledge of a subject would refrain from voting is a fantasy. Interest groups, such as the National Rifle Assoc.(against gun control), AARP (retired persons), Sierra Club (environmental protection) etc., will "inform" their members and everyone else whom they can reach about how to vote on issues of interest to them, and they will get high participation on those issues. Among others, very few will vote. Thus the system, far from improving democracy, would give extra influence to special interest groups. In any case, not many citizens will take the time to read a bill of hundreds of pages, no matter what the issue. The full-time elected representatives have a staff who at least can brief them on the bill.

      Making decision-makers out of the people sounds like a very democratic idea, but it does nothing to improve the decision making. Quite the opposite.
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        Jun 9 2013: Those are justified concerns, and I'd gladly answer them but it would be really nice of you if you could possibly repost those questions to the conversation about E2D that I'm currently hosting.

        Would be nice to gather all the questions and answers in the appropriate place so that people have as much Q&A on it as possible.

        If it's a problem to repost it, please say so here and I will answer your questions as good as I can (but we have a guy on the said conversation that knows more about this then I do.)

        Conversation link:
        http://www.ted.com/conversations/18759/does_your_country_have_an_elec.html
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    Jun 3 2013: (Part 2)

    So the boards suggestion was almost always followed, people had a choice and opportunity to read the proposals and suggestions at least two weeks before they were to vote, but basically only the board read it. This was often show by questioning after the vote (after the meeting) on things that were apparent had they only read the papers.

    Even though the board was democratic in theory we're all susceptible to human nature and often times there were 1-2 people (out of about 12 depending on attendance) that were so dominant that the others had long learned to be submissive of their thoughts and opinions.

    It wasn't the logically right opinion that prevailed but the opinion of the people that people didn't wan't to get on the wrong side of. Now I'm not saying that every decision was bad but the method of coming to conclusions hadn't changed in a hundred years. Just a small group of (for some reason) elected people trying to understand every aspect of just about everything. Most of these people were not smarter then average or had any special skills or abilities that made them better suited then any average Joe to make calls on energy or healthcare or housing. But still they did most of the times completely without scientific backing, simply using crude reasoning (and we know how counter intuitive many things are, especially on the bigger scale).

    So we weren't getting the professionals opinion much (except for seminars and such) at all. And I had to vote on things that I knew nearly nothing about or frankly didn't care much for.

    So in my opinion the problem was that it wasn't democratic (enough) and by chance I found a very small party that had the solution I had been seeking, A way that everyone could participate whenever they wanted on whatever they wanted to participate in and leave the other questions that they knew nothing about to the people that did and everyone gets to chose their representative in any question. And change their mind in an instant.
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    Jun 3 2013: Hi Casey (part 1)

    I think that they should be allowed, but I really don't think that they're very good for society. The same argument could be made for alcohol or something like that. Even though it's damaging we shouldn't make it illegal, there should be a free choice.

    That being said. I used to be a somewhat powerful politician here in my own municipality under the Swedish Social Democratic Party (our biggest party). I knew that it wasn't the best possible solution there could be for politics when I joined the party but I felt that I had to get into it to fully understand the inner workings of politics and I hadn't found any better alternative for creating change. So I joined them and spoke my mind about everything, created quite the ruckus and got elected to the board in just three months after joining.

    So I sat on my chair for a year and during this time I made a lot of friends with well-meaning people and I got to understand many of the inner workings that very few people actually understand.
    The problem was that it wasn't democratic, not that some evil lord had made it so but because of social conformity.

    Every time we got a proposal for change the board would talk it over and try to get as many aspects of it as possible and then deciding on a response. The proposal and the suggested response was presented at the quarterly meeting and all the party members would vote as they pleased.

    It wen't like this:
    -Reading of proposal
    -Reading on the boards suggestion
    -Open discussion (in under 5% of the time people spoke)
    -Voting
    -"Can we accept the boards proposal"?
    -"YES"

    Now on my first meeting ever I realized that over 80% did not understand what they were voting on in many questions. People were half slumbering and awoke to say yes. There came a proposal that I did not fully understand (it was really complex) and while everybody said yes I shouted "NO!", and no one turned their head to even look.

    (Sorry for the long story, I think I'm getting to a point ;P
  • Jun 2 2013: By whom If George Washington couldn't do it, how could you or I. Also, there would still be the Chamber, corporations, etc. Seems it could be far worse.
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      • Jun 2 2013: Hi Jack, I deleted my entries because they are something I struggle with because they could attract very powerful unwanted attention. But I guess you were able to see them before I took them off. I'm not sure what you "disagree with less but it's nice of you to let me know you don't dismiss it out of hand. If it's about the simplicity of the cease and desist and that working I'd lke to know if you don't mind. I see it as a way to say OK, everyone gets away with the bad stuff they might have done but the clock is on you now. And after that the offending parties will be in the unenviable position of having to defend crime or side with the American tradition of fair play. The President answered a reporter who said something like "why don't you make them behave" and Pres. Obama said it's their job to behave. My feeling is that the story will illuminate so many questions that a lot of people will be making each other behave because if they don't they are in violation of law now. And they lose that John Boehner swagger of "who's going to jail?" maybe it's you, you heartless POS. Haha.

        I have a lot more research and many nuances I could convey to sell the case much better but this TED box is too confining. If you want to e-mail me it's Jim_McG@Verizon.net Glad you got a chance to see my stuff before I took it off. I was hoping a sympathetic person or two might see it. There is deliberate crime and then there is defacto crime. My case is for the latter because "partisan media" didn't really exist when the whole thing started--but it became an opportunist set of brass knuckles that partisans use against their own to create this kind of weird paralysis. There are benefactors of paralysis though--that answer how or why people with so much to lose could be OK with a Michelle Bachmann for President. Her orders would be not do anything and everyone will get rich except the poor.
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    Jun 2 2013: What you and Lessig need to realize is that nothing is going to happen with out some edjamacation of the voters.

    I propose a modern (or not so modern?) version of the Thomas Paine booklet called Common Sense. Paine was called the father of the American Revolution and he contributed every bit as much to it and the country as Thomas Jefferson did.

    http://www.bartleby.com/133/1.html
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    Jun 2 2013: A political party, and the ability to form one, is a matter of free speech and is thus protected by the First Amendment.
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      Jun 3 2013: As Thoreau said no man by following the law has become a fair man or he acted fairly. (Sorry about any inacurracies.)
  • Jun 1 2013: An alternative of no party affiliation is to have at least one third of the congressional members must be the protected candidates elected from political parties other than the two major parties, and any one major party is restricted to no more than 35% of the total congress members. Of course, there could be 4th and 5th party too, but the minimum one third restriction applies to the total number of the candidates outside of the 2 major parties.
    Another problem is that whoever the president is given the almost complete power of appointing the head of the administrative department, s/he can chose her/his cronies, even for the so-called independent agencies. As long as this is the rule, there are always going-around maneuvers , such as recess appointment, to sneak around the congressional confirmation processes.
  • Jun 1 2013: This is certainly an interesting idea, and for the sake of this discussion, I am willing to say it is a good idea. The big problem with many good ideas is in the implementation of that idea. So, what would be the actual wording of the Constitutional Amendment to ban political parties?