We know something is wrong with government. The Economist calls our government a “flawed democracy”. According to Gallup, “Only 28% of Americans have a positive overall view of the US federal government… That was the lowest rating for any business or industry sector.” Mechanisms such as money in politics, the electoral college, and gerrymandering have corrupted our democracy. But what can we do to fix America?
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Concerned Americans go to the polls. Concerned Americans donate some money to a political campaign or advocacy group. Yet no substantive change ever seems to happen. Our participation is rewarded with a gridlocked government year-after-year that fails to act on immigration, environmental conservation, healthcare, tax reform, or any other issue that matters. Elections may be won, but we are still losing the war. Instead of failing over and over again, perhaps it's time for a new approach.
The Americans For Representation (or AFR) propose a new approach to empower Americans and force our politicians to do what we want.
Organize people to strategically vote in unison at all local, state, and federal elections in order to maximize political power.
Send true representatives to speak to politicians and extract tit-for-tat exchanges in favor of our desired policy, using our collective votes and donations as leverage.
Advocate for election reforms in order to promote political equality and minimize all barriers to participation - advocating for reforms such as score voting, ranked choice voting, and participatory vouchers.
Create a new organization that is trustable and accountable to its members by using cooperative, democratic elections to ensure that the organization's leadership represents its members.
In other words, the AFR seeks to give ordinary Americans the same powers special interests use to lobby our government. However in order to create this power, we need a new political organization that Americans can trust. We need a cooperatively owned political group.
Cooperative ownership means that you and other members legally own the AFR rather than some private benefactor. Members elect, hire, and fire the leadership at will. Electoral power ensures that your interests will be advocated for rather than the interests of the leadership. Membership will also be open to all citizens who wish to participate. With cooperative ownership, you will drive the organization’s goals from the bottom up.
The primary objective of the AFR Cooperative is to maximize voter power, and minimize time and effort. The AFR understands that most people don't have the time to fully participate in politics. People don't have the time to trudge through local meetings and join local interest groups. People don't have the time to research advocacy groups, or review their records to understand their efficacy. People do not have time to learn about dozens of political offices and candidates. As a mental shortcut, many people vote straight party on the assumption that the party has already chosen a decent candidate - an assumption that is oftentimes wrong.
Yet societies have already solved these problems through a process called the division of labor. We hire plumbers and electricians to work on our house. We hire engineers to design our buildings and bridges. Why don't we hire people to help sort out the complexities of politics? Well, we already do, but they're only affordable to the wealthiest of Americans, and they are called lobbyists.
The AFR aims to provide America with their own personal lobbyists - in other words, their own true representatives - people that can express our political beliefs better than our officially elected politicians. True representatives will conduct political research on your behalf. True representatives will contact and negotiate with politicians on your behalf. True representatives can be fired immediately when they betray your trust. True representatives can be anybody that you deem trustworthy - your friends, your family, your heroes - whoever you can convince to participate. And using a process called delegative democracy, true representatives can accumulate money and power sufficiently to influence politicians towards our demands, in a way that proportionately represents the diversity of America in all aspects.
In other words, the AFR shall:
Provide true democratic representation. Through democratic ownership, AFR members will elect representative leadership - leaders that can be trusted - leaders with a much shorter leash than the politicians in Washington.
Become a lobbying firm. The AFR will fight fire-with-fire and arm Americans with the same tools that special interests have used to corrupt our government.
Provide members actionable news & information on issues and strategic voting in order to maximize voter influence.
Nominate our members as candidates in Republican and Democratic primaries.
The AFR will not exclusively support one party. The AFR will choose its support strategically with the goal of maximizing our members’ political power and influence.
Americans are dissatisfied with both parties and must resort to picking the lesser of two evils for every election. Gerrymandering, convoluted party primaries, and the exorbitant cost of political campaigning all work to disempower the working and professional class. The AFR will work to eliminate these barriers to participation.
The two-party system has also produced decades of political stalemate, polarization and voter dissatisfaction. Many political scientists believe that this stalemate is a consequence of our winner-takes-all election system. However, solutions have already been developed to fix these problems.
Political scientists have devised many innovative ideas that could be used to repair our democracy and advance 3rd party participation. These include:
Proportional representation - Representatives are elected to congress based on vote proportion rather than arbitrary district boundaries.
Score based voting - an alternative voting system where voters score each candidate, and the candidate with the greatest score wins.
Delegative “liquid” democracy - A mode of governance where voters can choose to delegate out their votes to representatives. Or, voters can choose to directly vote. In other words, you can choose whether you want to directly participate or you want to delegate out your authority.
The AFR seeks to create the best possible American democracy. The AFR shall test and validate potential reforms on its own internal election system. After experimentation, validation, and approval by our members, the AFR will then lobby government to implement these new reforms.
Americans are not so different from one another. Yet mass media and partisan talking heads pit father against son, mother against daughter, and neighbor against neighbor.
The AFR seeks to construct a new political forum where people can come together to rationally discuss our interests and make the necessary compromises to make a better society. At the very least, we all need to reach a new understanding and trust of each other, even if we cannot agree to the details of policy and ideology.
Only with a new consensus can we can finally enact the necessary reforms that our current politicians cannot.
We want liberals. We want conservatives. We want libertarians. We want socialists. We want the selfish and the selfless. We want to empower everyone as a rising tide lifts all boats. We want your participation. If you think America can do better, please join our group!