Ideally, the design for this system should evolve with participation from a broad base of contributors. For too long, politics has been the realm of an elite group of power brokers: inheritors of political dynasties, well-connected lawyers and the cigar-smoking corporate barons of the "Old Boy's Club".
A new project will be created on one of the existing online forum systems (a specific platform has yet to be selected, and recommendations are welcome). The project will follow the established stages of system design used in engineering, architecture and product manufacturing:
As project moderator, I will get the ball rolling with an introductory set of requirements. Any new requirements may be added by project participants, as long as they are relevant to achieving the broad objectives (as defined above).
- Define Requirements.
- Define the system functions and procedures which will achieve the identified requirements.
Introductory List of System Requirements (and System Definition):
- The System is not to be aligned with any political party: it exists to facilitate communication between political representatives and their constituents
- NOT ONLY a computer-based, social networking system, BUT ALSO a vocabulary and set of policies to de-emphasize current focus on representative as a leader beholden to the ideology of any particular political party
- System must support introduction of initiatives (based on social or economic goals etc) from any constituent who wants to access the system. Policies are adopted when a critical mass of constituents are "won over" by the strength of the argument(s) in favour.
- Every effort must be made to avoid the monopolization of the system by special interest groups. Spamming, hacking, bullying and pressuring of system users (constituents) must be prevented against by strict usage policies.
- Security measures must prevent against the system being hijacked by hackers.
- No anonymous users are permitted. While anonymity may protect those with unpopular positions from ridicule or other types of personal attacks, it also protects those who make personal attacks ("bullies"). Anonymity also makes it very difficult to institute auditing procedures.
- Elected representatives are a special type of user of the system. However: They are not granted "special powers": The whole idea is to eliminate the monolithic, hierarchical power structures present in traditional political systems. A representative may often be called upon to make decisions in situations where consultation with constituents is impractical, but MUST BE primarily responsible for acting in accordance with the wishes of his/her electorate. Therefore the system must track the votes made in the legislative assembly and verify that the representative has voted in concert with his or her constituents.
- No legally binding requirement for representatives who employ the system to vote in parliament or legislature in a way consistent with system users, but if a representative's actions can be shown to be in contradiction to the will of his/her electorate, the expectation is that they resign from public office
- A RECALL action may be a specific function providing a safeguard that special interests (such as political party agents) do not hijack the system and falsely create the appearance that a representative has taken actions which contradict the will of his or her constituents.
- Representatives who may adopt an implementation of the system to get elected and then drop it once in office must be blacklisted. It is naive to think that there will not be politicians who will do this, as there is a long tradition of candidates who promise the world during campaigns only to conveniently forget their promises once elected. In the long term, protection of the integrity of the system may be best achieved with the formation of an objective agency or standards organization, (much like the ISO).
**Constituency management software is not new:
There are existing products in this class, but with a much different intention than what is envisioned for the PRODEMOCRACY System. Generally, these software systems approach the constituents as resources to be managed, rather than as participants in the political decision making process. "Constituency Management" is little more than a process of maintaining voter contact information in a database for campaigning purposes in the next election. However, it may be beneficial to have a look at what is currently available, if only for the purpose of comparison and critical evaluation:
The PRODEMOCRACY System is a Project Proposal from:
THE INTERNET ANNEX.