Spencer Ferri

Just a thinker, and a talker!

This conversation is closed.

An alternative to the current western democratic model, called Tiered Democratic Governance, or "TDG"

I didn't come up with this idea so much as a man named Dave Volek. I talk with him frequently, however, and he has a hard time with the internet so I've been trying to bring the idea to the internet's attention for him - so here we go.

Tiered Democratic Governance (TDG) is a proposed alternative electoral system Dave Volek wrote after considering what he believes are twelve terrible flaws with our current system. These "Twelve Limitations of Western Democracy" may be found summarized as pictures on this link:

His alternative system is a bottom-up strategy where a small voting district called a Neighborhood forms the basis for the whole democracy. These Neighborhoods are restricted in size to no more then a few hundred voters. Within the Neighborhood, people vote for a Neighborhood Representative, with there being few restrictions on who may be voted for (effectively meaning the person one most trusts within ones governance becomes the target of votes).

Groups of 15-20 Neighborhoods form Districts. The Neighborhood Representatives vote among themselves for who may represent their tier, and the process escalates to a top political tier which Dave believes should be council of a few leaders.

Enhancing the system are advisory-boards, formed of educated specialists in whatever field, who provide consultation to representatives. The advisory groups would hold no authority over political fields and individuals may only either serve as a Tier Rep or on an Advisory Council.

The belief is that by shifting to this system and removing parties from the equation, we create a system of more trusted leaders who are chosen by people in a real position to judge the character of the people they vote for.

Dave's book is published online for free on his webpage. If the format for his idea is difficult for you to work with, message me for a link to the .pdf.


Closing Statement from Spencer Ferri

Some people have helped point out the trickiness of the nature of responsibility vs choice in a TDG electoral system. What happens if no one in a neighborhood wants to be a representative?

It seems cold to say "Well, there isn't much responsibility, so suck it up."

It also seems challenging to think about how the position would be enforced.

Perhaps the responsibilities are so few for a neighborhood representative that one could potentially wear the title without having to change ones routine. It could be the representative is expected to "govern at yours and your communities pace".

It seems widely agreed (between posts here and elsewhere) that change is needed, and that this idea is valid, though young.

But 'tis the point of this place, to mold ideas into better ones.

The conversation has ended, but the idea has not. Consider the arguments linked which demonstrate that our current electoral system is greatly flawed. Consider this new electoral system as a potential replacement, or as a contribution to a newer system.

  • Feb 19 2012: I hail from South Korea. I am usually curious about your politics and society. The only thing I know is Canadians and citizens in the States are oriented by grassroots democracy. The power is amazing with gathering public opinion. I am not related to politics but I will read your linked sites more. Thanks!
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    Feb 23 2012: Hi ,i'm brand new [as of about 10 mins] on Ted and my main interests are alternate government systems, in particular direct democracy and E democracy. I'm very interested in your friends book and will read it shortly :). As this conversation ends shortly, I'll probably miss some of the nuances of this conversation!
    I wrote a proposal for an alternative direct government a few years ago also, though its a Direct E democracy with a filter against mob rule, and has a merit appointed, vote ratified, bureaucracy running the day to day issues, slightly similar in structure to the Swiss system.
    In my research on government systems, I was not drawn to a tiered democracy format as I feel that the social compact should be ratified more directly, and individuals in society must not give up their power, or seed their responsibility for there government to others. It also seems the greater tiers of government and bureaucracy, the greater the chance of corruption creping in. That said, I'm eager to read the book, at first glance many of your friends reasons for writing this alternate system resonate. Thank you for starting this conversation.
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    Feb 19 2012: Keep in mind man: we are all related to our politics, for it's the choices of our leaders which shapes the reality of our world, and by extension, us. Conquer your world, bro.
  • Feb 19 2012: I guess politics in Canada is unique.
  • Feb 19 2012: It's hard for me to get what you posted cause I am not a citizen of Canada. I have the slightest idea about politics. I will link the linked pages, and read more often.
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      Feb 19 2012: Which nation do you hail from? Perhaps by comparing our nations current political methods to this one, we may come to a greater mutual understanding of the phenomenon of human politics.

      Canadian politics is very similar to American politics, with several core differences. One of our primary differences is that we do not have a senate, but a house of Parliament. The House of Parliament is where our laws are determined, each of the many seats divided between elected representatives across the country. Each rep is elected from a running party, which brings us to our main second difference, which is that we have a multi-party platform. While the Americans are limited to two parties, we have many parties (though only three parties ever get seats, thanks to the phenomenon of advertising and the money-relationship between political parties and media companies).

      The TDG book begins with criticisms of mainstream society and politics, presses on with an alternate political system and finishes with information on how to establish a TDG government peacefully, making the claim that a change in the common man is necessary for the system to succeed. It ends with a fictional representation of how a TDG would work by giving a short description of the life of a doctor who also participates in her countries governance through TDG.
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    Feb 18 2012: Interesting.

    Some questions.

    IS tax still collected? Who decides how it is distributed?

    How are laws made?

    Would their still be parties?

    How would you stop patronage or vote buying in the neighbourhood?

    Does the rep have to live in the neighbour hood. What if no one has the inclination to be the neighbourhood rep.
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      Feb 18 2012: I've told Dave to come sign-up and reply to give more in depth information on the subject.

      I am not sure on either the topic of laws nor taxes. I assume it'd be expected that each emerging TDG play with its own methods of applying law to those within it and as these TDG's slowly come to assume the roles of modern governance, it would find ways to streamline its own processes with those of other TDG's. During the later transitional periods of early TDG, the best tried strategies will find their place in the greater structure, and those less capable structures will find themselves failed theories, part of the history of the early TDG.

      You may be interested in reading Chapter 6, "The Transition from Western Democracy " which outlines a long and involved transition process from the current democracy to this new one, a process which spans many years and includes many social changes as well.

      I've wondered myself whether or not a person within the neighborhood would -have- to serve, even if they didn't want to. I feel as though the book suggests that one would have to. But I think it's morally accurate to make a claim that "if we are to survive, we should do so by choice, not by force". And in that, I would assume a system should be ready to determine how a neighborhood which has no willing political spirits determines its source of governance.

      Dave may argue that since the responsibilities of a neighborhood rep are few (proportionate to the governance of a small group), that the added responsibility isn't necessarily a burden, and thus the expectation to lead isn't one which has a morally negative impact.

      But we will wait for him to say for sure!
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        Feb 20 2012: I quite like how their is contact between local representatives and their community and this flows up.
        So they can have a relationship and be engaged with who they represent.
        Representative Democracy is more than voting every 3 or 4 years. The representatives need to be in touch.

        This in my view is one of the issues with the EU. The law makers are too remote from the communities and the communities are diverse.
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          Feb 20 2012: I agree with you, man. If we don't have a detailed understanding of the dynamics of our world, we're doomed to make unwise decisions. I think the complexity of our worlds economies, businesses and governments create a 'knowledge divide' where no one man has a total understanding of how these systems interact. One may have some misunderstanding which may lead to unwise choices. It may be that millions of people have such misunderstandings which lead me to wonder: how many people are making unwise decisions? And can all people be brought to a point where they understand enough about our systems to make wise decisions often?

          Does having such an understanding require so much focus that one cannot easily pursue other kinds of knowledge – philosophical, scientific, etc… And how much do these ‘other kinds of knowledge’ contribute to the nature of living in this world as a human? Does having lots of specialist knowledge distract from these and lead to other kinds of unwise choices?

          Part of the problem is the complexity itself. I don't think a person can have a total understanding of the relationships between their nations economy, government and its many businesses, let alone the greater relationship between their national dynamics and global dynamics.

          Vice verca is true though. Communities and people cannot be accurately represented by statistics. In order to 'balance a community', one can't just try and balance the economic statistics of a region. One has to have levels of understanding to make wise decisions.

          TDG offers a very good solution for the problem of complexity. It breaks everything down to a simple level where a representative can have a total understanding of their political level. If a person is elected through the process to the top tier, that person would have a good understanding of how the top tier relates to the bottom tier.
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        Feb 22 2012: Agree statistics are not enough especially given Human groupings or societies are so diverse.
        If there is ever a world government in my lifetime I expect it will have a fairly limited scope.