Political Reform

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Childcare for Governmental Meetings

We need universal child care in general, but as a way to ensure that everyone, especially parents are able to run for office and to attend any relevant political meetings we need to have childcare available when political meetings are given. Too many people do not come to meetings or do not run for office because they may not have easy access to child care. Having childcare available will open up our meetings and to allow many more people to feel welcome to run for office. I know that this has deeply affected my decision making process when it came to running for office.

The Wall…

The Wall of Separation Between Church and State needs to remain inviolable. Science, ethics, and eco-humanistic principles are what should guide us into the future.

Politicians

  1. Politicians should NOT be able to vote on their own pay or benefits. That should be left to the people.
  2. Politician’s pay should be tied to the health and well being of their constituency. All politicians, no matter their position, should start with base wage of the $75,000 for and then adjust it up or down (within the limits of the maximum wage) based on poverty, pollution, unemployment, violence rates, school quality rates, general happiness and well being, etc… The better their constituency is doing, then the better they can do too. (see the section on Economies for the Common Good)
  3. Politicians should NOT have their own healthcare, retirement, nor 
    should they keep getting paid after they leave office – not even the president. They should be subjected to the same laws, benefits, and worries that the people are. Politics is about public service and not a get rich or retirement scheme.
  4. They should not be insulated from the laws they impose on the rest of us.
  5. We need to end the politician to lobbyist revolving door.
  6. Government needs external and independent ethics review organizations.

Political Process

External and Independent Ethical Oversight

A governmental agency should not be in charge of its own ethical (and other) oversight. There should be an independent external agency(s) that watch over and ensure the ethical actions of governmental agencies. Currently, Congress is gutting if not outright ending their Ethics Oversight Committee.

Whistle Blowers

  1. Rights for all Whistleblowers should be honored and protected completely. A free press is necessary to keep government and corporations held accountable.
  2. Complete pardons for Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, and Chelsea Manning. They should be awarded medals of honor.

War and Peace

#NoMoreWar

Say No to Police Actions

All military actions outside of the US should require congressional approval. There should be nothing classified as a ‘police action.’ which is used as method to bypass constitutional requirements for congressional approval. All Military action outside the US needs to go through congress otherwise the president can send the military wherever they want just by changing the label, which is what has been happening.

Peace Easier Than War

  1. Going to war or any “police action” should require 2/3 vote.
  2. Going to peace should require only 1/2 vote.

It should be more difficult to go to war and easier to go peace. Currently, it is the opposite. =( Changing this will require constitutional amendments, I believe.

Legislative Process for a Consensus Based Digital Democracy

General Ideas

  1. Each bill should only cover one issue and should not have entries that are not directly related. If you want pork barrel spending, then you can create a bill just for that. You will NOT add a controversial line just to tank a bill or to slide something in just to make sure it gets in there because you know you cannot pass it on its own.
  2. We should shift to a more open and citizen focused bill passing process – one that is not ‘a corporation hands us the bill‘.  I outlined a basic process which tries to integrate consensus based democratic principles here. My post Legislative Process For A Consensus Based Digital Democracy covers one such process and I will detail that below:

Introduction

Here is a process I have developed which pulls ideas from consensus based democratic work which will allow for a more open legislative process and more citizen participation. The most free and advanced countries in the world, such as the Nordic States, have a consensus based democratic government.

Why a consensus based process you ask?

Well, a majoritarian based process like we have in the US creates party based politics, divisiveness, grabs for power regardless of cost so they can control the process, and suppression of minority voices which I talk about at length in this post: Suppression Inherent in America’s Two-Party System. Where the winner takes all for legislation and elections, we all lose. =(

Consensus based democratic governments tend to be more cooperative, tend to eschew parties and party politics, tend to be more representative of the people, as well as respect and take into consideration minority voices due to the consensus based voting – all agree or nothing. When fine tuned this process may move at a similar rate as a majoritarian based process. A consensus based democratic legislative process will more accurately embody the ideals of equality and openness.

Legislative Process

Introduction

Below is a loose process based on my micronational work adapted for more general audience. This was written primarily with the national level in mind, but is easy enough to adapt to local governmental levels. Here is an overview of the 11 steps to the Legislative Bill Creation and Approval Process:

  1. Draft the Issue Definition Document (IDD)
  2. Citizen Vote
  3. Sponsors for Legislative Bills
  4. Collaborative Space Created
  5. Collaborative Bill Drafting
  6. Translation Bill
  7. Review Period
  8. Lawmaker Discussion
  9. Lawmaker Vote
  10. Final Vote
  11. Bill Settling Period
Legislative Process for a Consensus Based Digital Democracy
Legislative Process for a Consensus Based Digital Democracy

1. Draft the Issue Definition Document (IDD)

Before we can tackle solving an issue or writing legislation we need to have a clear idea of what it is we are trying to accomplish. Issue Definitions will most likely be initially created by lawmakers as a normal part of their operations, although they may also be created and approved either by citizens or other organizations through a process defined by law. Citizens should have access to the same tools that the Government has for this process and it should always be a public and open process, and should be available for public comment. Each IDD should concentrate on 1 issue only.

Crowdsourcing this process increases citizen participation and democratic value from a governmental process which is not insulated from the populace, and allows for a greater perspective on the problem and potential solutions.

A. Define issue
  1. State the issue you want to work with
  2. Define why this issue is a problem and why you want to write a bill for this issue:
    1. Background
    2. Scope and Intent
    3. Rate issue’s impact on Citizens
  3. Issue Problems
    1. State problems that the issue causes
    2. Problem mapping:
      1. List all of the symptoms and try to figure out the root causes of these problems.
      2. Map symptoms to root causes. We would rather solve root causes and not waste our time putting a bandaid on a symptom.
    3. Rate the individual symptoms and root causes’s impact on Citizens.
B. Define Solution
  1. Desired Solution type:
    1. Administrative
    2. Research or data
    3. Technological
  2. Define goal of solution
  3. Solution mapping
    1. List possible solutions in terms of solving symptoms/root causes and type of solution
    2. Rate solutions according to how well it solves the problem or aspects of the problem
    3. Rate solutions vs impact on Citizens
    4. List benefits and problems with each solution
  4. Create final solution which meets all solution criteria for solving root causes
  5. Rate solution impact on Citizens
C. Approve IDD and Submit to Database

Once the IDD is approved by consensus then it may be submitted the IDD database.

D. Translate IDD

Now it will be required to be translated into the various languages used by locals and the people as much as is practicable so that all may have access to it. Once this has been done it may be available for public vote and potential consideration by lawmakers.

2. Citizen Vote

Periodically the citizens within the scope of the law should receive a list of completed Issue Definitions for them to vote upon to see which ones are most valued by the people, to act as a guide for the lawmaker’s upcoming legislative session.

3. Sponsors for Legislative Bills

Lawmakers maybe sponsors for Legislative Bills

4. Collaborative Space Creation

A collaborative space must be created to start the initial drafting of the of bill. Bill drafting must be open to the public so they can see the drafting process and potentially comment as well. It should also have revision tracking so that the evolution of the bill can be tracked.

5. Collaborative Bill Drafting

Bills should be drafted in a collaborative manner such as through a wiki page or Google Docs, or other similar technology so lawmakers and its committees and advisers may work on it together, and so the process, comments, and text may be managed, and archived, and made available to the public.

Lawmakers and their legal teams will usually do most of the drafting since most bills will be sponsored from by the lawmakers themselves. Once the bill is finished by achieving consensus approval by the drafting parties it may move on.

Here are the required parts of a legislative bill:

  • Preface
    1. Link to Issue Definition Document
    2. Link to Collaborative bill drafting space and text
    3. Name of bill’s sponsor(s)
    4. List of bill’s drafting authors
  • Text
    1. Executive Summary
    2. Scope and Intent
    3. Text of law to be voted upon
  • Appendix
    1. Notes from bill’s authors
    2. Supporting documents, data, and text

6. Bill Translation

All legislative bills will be required to be translated into the various languages used by the local people as much as is practicable.

7. Review Period

Prior to a vote on each bill a waiting period must be enacted that will allow all lawmakers a chance to receive the bill and read it. The Review Period will most likely be an equation based on word count and also accounting for the fact that some lawmakers through the various levels of government are not full time government officials.

8. Lawmaker Discussion

Once the review period has ended then governmental may begin the discussion phase to discuss the merits of the bill.

9. Lawmaker Vote

General Legislative Bills are approved through a majority vote. Any lawmaker who will vote on a bill must have read the bill in its entirety and must sign as such in order to submit their vote. If lawmakers are voting on something that they know nothing about then they cannot not in good conscience cast an educated vote, nor accurately represent their constituency.

10. Final Approval

The final vote(s), if any, to approve or disapprove the bill (Congressman, President etc).

11. Bill Settling Period

After a at least a 30 day settling period has passed, the bill is considered to be passed and in full effect. This may also give the public some time to organize and respond. This period may be extended if convenient for the citizens or if the bill is quite contentious.