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Forum Post: Establishing a Voting System to Determine Policies We Can Support

Posted 11 years ago on Dec. 21, 2011, 5:53 p.m. EST by ImaDreamer (82)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

Many people here have complained that we have no clear cut objectives beyond wanting to end the way society is being controlled by 1% of the population. Endless proposals are posted in this forum yet we have no way to reach agreement. Many clamor that we need a leader to emerge but no individual can represent all the divergent opinions, and movements can be stopped by taking out the leadership. What can't be stopped are ideas.

"One man can not change the world alone, but one idea, shared by enough people, will have already changed the world." (Koda)

What we need is a means of reaching agreement regarding which particular ideas we want to support. I believe this could be accomplished by creating an online voting system where specific policies or actions are voted upward by registered forum members, on pages set aside for that purpose. The suggested policy/action ideas receiving the most votes would rise to the top, where all of us would be exposed to the best ideas and the less desirable would fall by the wayside. Media reporters could observe the results and tell the world, "87% of OWS forum members support this policy, 63% support this idea," etc., while OWS itself wouldn't be required to take a stand on anything. It would be a way for us to speak with one voice regarding those ideas receiving the most support.

If the people running this site don't want to implement such a voting system, I do. Anyone with the skills required to set up the forum software used here and modify it in somewhat complicated ways to reflect voting by an "informed democracy" (described in boring detail below) might want to send me a private message. Thanks :)

The voting system described above is a form of direct democracy. Another way to describe democracy is mob rule, and in a pure democracy the vote of the most enlightened scholar carries no more influence than that of an ignorant fool. So in most "democratic" countries we elect "representatives," whom we assume are experts on the issues, to do the voting for us, but instead they vote to promote their own self interests by supporting the policies of the 1%.

The solution, I believe, is to establish an "informed democracy" where only those who can demonstrate knowledge of an issue can vote on that issue. We could do that here (or on some other site if necessary) and it would give us a good idea of how well such a system might work in the real world.

The voting system would start with a "new proposals" page where anyone could post a suggested policy or action. That page would link to a forum page where people discuss the pros and cons of the suggested idea. People could vote for or against the proposal, and the more votes supporting it, the higher the proposal would appear on the "new proposals" page. Votes against would be noted, but it would not move the policy downward on the page.

The "new proposals" page is still pure democracy. Before the proposal can be moved to the official Proposed Actions and Policies Page, where it can be voted on again regardless of previous voting, it would have to include the requirements of an Informed Democracy.

The official voting page would include the specific proposal to be voted upon, followed by a list of "unquestioned facts" relating to the proposal, and two statements not to exceed 300 words each, one statement for and one against the proposal. At the bottom of the page there would be no more than ten multiple choice questions which must be answered correctly in order to cast a vote. The answers to those questions would be contained in the previous statements, and voters would be allowed to change their answers until they got them right. The object being that voters simply need to understand the details regarding what they're voting on.

This brings up the question of who is going to supply the detailed information. The person or group making the original proposal would be responsible for arguments supporting it. Those opposed would need to collaborate their efforts to reach consensus on what to include, and elect a spokesperson to make decisions in the event no agreement can be reached. The list of "unquestioned facts" would be those accepted by both sides, and would actually be "best estimations of the facts involved."

In the real world we would elect managers rather than "representatives" to run the daily operations of government, and this voting system could be used to replace any of them at any time.

So, what do you think about this idea?



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[-] 2 points by occupypuppies (71) 11 years ago

I for one don't want or need a representative. I have the intelligence and strength to make decisions for myself. You should realize that you do too.

[-] 2 points by ImaDreamer (82) 11 years ago

I made it clear that we don't want "representatives" but managers we, the people, can fire at any time.

Of course I can make my own decisions. I'm pretty sure I would make better decisions than an Informed Democracy, but I also believe that if the people are presented with the truth they are capable of working together to create better policies than any other form of government. Imagine how different things would be if we, the people, could replace our so-called representatives, right now, today. 80% of them would be packing their bags.

But for now, I would just like to see which ideas most of the people in the movement would want to support. We need a way to determine that.

[-] 1 points by occupypuppies (71) 11 years ago

ron paul if i had to choose

[-] 2 points by ImaDreamer (82) 11 years ago

I'm talking about voting for policies and actions people in this movement can support. Maybe we should make a big deal about getting people to put their money in small banks and credit unions, boycotting Exxon-Mobile fuel till gas prices hit $2, demanding an end to the war on drugs, etc. Maybe we'd choose to support national health care or free education, stopping foreclosures, getting rid of the federal reserve, prohibiting paid political advertising in media, etc.

We need a way for people to propose actions or policies and discover those that most of us want to support so we act together and have some impact.

[-] 2 points by ARod1993 (2420) 11 years ago

Everyone can make decisions for himself or herself, but when you have a thousand people or ten thousand people or a hundred thousand people all clamoring for their own particular thing (and half the time not even sure why they're pushing what they're pushing) you're going to be about as efficient and constructive as our current crop of Congressmen. Everyone needs to have a fair say in the direction of the movement (or the nation if you want to go there), but at some point people have to work out a generally mutually agreeable solution and then implement it. That doesn't happen much unless there's either some sort of impending deadline or crisis, or some sort of governing apparatus responsible for implementing the will of the people.

[-] 1 points by occupypuppies (71) 11 years ago

"when you have a thousand people or ten thousand people or a hundred thousand people all clamoring for their own particular thing (and half the time not even sure why they're pushing what they're pushing)" that's how it is NOW.

Everyone needs to have a fair say in the direction of the movement (or the nation if you want to go there), but at some point people have to work out a generally mutually agreeable solution and then implement it. Good point.

[-] 1 points by ARod1993 (2420) 11 years ago

Thanks; I feel like structure, organization, and discipline are very important for any movement to be able to succeed and sustain itself over the long haul (which I figure we're going to need to do if we want to be effective when we push for change). Those things do not have to be strictly vertical, and in fact an organization with too rigid a chain of command is as screwed in the long term as a movement with no chain of command at all.

I'd posit that Occupy, like all other organizations that extend beyond a certain scope, needs to try to find some sort of happy medium between anarchy and hierarchy that serves its needs. It can be done, but it will require some sort of formal coordination between different workgroups and a more efficient, unified face. I've made more concrete suggestions in other posts on here, and I'd be happy to repost them for you if you'd like.

[-] 1 points by occupypuppies (71) 11 years ago

Whatever you want to do, try it.

What do you propose they do to make coordination between working groups more efficient? If you think they are important ideas to be put in place, tell someone.

I had an idea to have all girls sit at the front of meetings so they would be more inclined to speak up and protest against white male privilege. Then I thought, we could do that in just ONE meeting. Even if your idea happens in only one meeting, it might catch on, but try it once first.

It can be done, but it will require some sort of formal coordination between different workgroups and a more efficient, unified face.

I think the only rules should be: no yelling or cursing and other than that, do what you want.

[-] 1 points by ARod1993 (2420) 11 years ago

I would like to see them set up a general logistics workgroup responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the protesters and massing large groups of them where necessary. Set up a PR workgroup composed of sober, articulate, clean-cut moderates who are capable of appealing to people fairly far outside our standard political and socioeconomic demographics to convince them to vote for people we trust.

Set up a political workgroup (or in fact affiliate officially with the 99% Declaration) to manage any political campaigns or primary runs attempted in the name of the Occupy movement (including the selection of candidates, but those candidates would need majority approval from the rest of the movement before actually running) that would be responsible for PR efforts, fundraising, and general campaign management. Then just give the finance workgroup a voice in and a position reporting to the logistics workgroup, and there you go.

A specific policy platform would be nice for the political and PR arms of the movement, simply because it makes it far easier to sell the ideas behind Occupy to reluctant Middle Americans (which is something you're going to have to do to a certain degree if you don't want to be branded as fools or wingnuts); although it wouldn't necessarily have to be strictly adhered to by the protest wing it would make a nice simple set of guidelines to keep us on track.

[-] 1 points by occupypuppies (71) 11 years ago

I think the people I really get along with in Occupy are the ones who believe that Occupy means having fun, Occupy is play time. It’s just a time to hang out, with no rules, with no parents, with no police officers, to just do what we want and try to think of cool ideas for how we want the future to be. I understand why you might feel like there needs to be change and order, but there already is change and order. Mayhem erupts when we don’t acknowledge the natural order of the world. I don’t know about you, but when I’m left to my own devices I just talk a lot and make art. I need a police officer in my life about as much as I need two losing scratchoff tickets. I need order as much as I need a glass of water with hair in it. I don’t need people telling me what to do because I am a regular person. See what I’m saying?

I think the idea is: -find people you like -talk to them in a normal way -find love and happiness and joy -laugh -repeat

see? no rules needed.

[-] 1 points by occupypuppies (71) 11 years ago

WHAT? that sounds like government to me. i'm an anarchist and I really am, I dont just say that to sound edgy or cool. I really believe there should be no rules and no government. Life should be like play time. Seriously. Just have fun!

[-] 1 points by occupypuppies (71) 11 years ago

Also, the movement has everything is needs and is perfect already. Why do we need to think of demands and be all serious like our parents? Why do we have to take the normal route of organizing? Some people do that, but it isn't for me. I just want to have fun, period.

Think about how fun it would be to wake up in the morning and literally have NO IDEA what the world would be like that day. Because everyone everywhere was just allowed to be nice to eachother without the government and the police telling them they couldn’t walk there or they couldn’t do that. That walking there was trespassing and doing what they want is illegal. Imagine having no idea what you were going to do that day, but knowing you would see your friends and maybe assert your individual sovereignty in some way to make your life better. It isn’t about improving the entire world because that is an impossible goal. It’s about wanting to go through life and have fun and change and spontaneously evolve, instead of doing the same things over and over and over and over again until you are old and sit back and think “I didn’t put up a fight for anything. I just did what I was told. And now I have nothing.”

[-] 1 points by occupypuppies (71) 11 years ago

Thanks; I feel like structure, organization, and discipline are very important for any movement to be able to succeed and sustain itself over the long haul (which I figure we're going to need to do if we want to be effective when we push for change).

WHY? I think the opposite-that a lack of laws and a lack of structure will help the movement to grow in spontaneous and beneficial ways.

I truly believe that in life it is the unplanned, unexpected thing that is the most successful. We are trained to believe that we need structure and order but that is ONLY because THEY need us to be that way, not because it is the most fun or beneficial for US.

Think about lawlessness and how fun, if different, it would be. We are only like this because it is easier for the powers that be to keep us in check this way.

NO STRUCTURE WILL HELP THE MOVEMENT BE SPONTANEOUS AND EVOLVE. i wouldn't have it any other way. and that's how I want to live my life.

[-] 1 points by ARod1993 (2420) 11 years ago

There need to be avenues for new and unconventional ideas to gain traction and get their fair chance, but too little structure is just as deadly to such ideas as too much structure. There are some cases in which lack of structure can work, but I'd posit to you that it only works when everyone has roughly the same goal in mind and is willing to make use of roughly the same tactics to work toward that goal. Otherwise the setup doesn't work quite so well, and I'll explain why.

When a new idea first hits the books, there are few guarantees that it'll work, and it generally requires a leap of faith and initial expenditure of collective effort before it really starts to gain traction or pay off of its own accord. When there's a given structure through which these ideas must pass before being acted upon, then there's a general understanding that any proposal that makes it through that structure has enough merit to be worth the investment. In some ways, such a structure can actually promote growth and evolution, as a seemingly outlandish idea that makes it through the process will still receive backing and a chance to survive.

I would further argue that such a structure actually improves the quality of the ideas and proposals that an organization has to work with, simply because it requires that the originator has to slow down and put a rationale behind and a program in front of whatever idea he has. That then means that by the time it reaches the actionable stage, it is no longer simply an idea but a concrete proposal around which people can be mobilized quickly as necessary.

[-] 1 points by occupypuppies (71) 11 years ago

everyone has roughly the same goal in mind and is willing to make use of roughly the same tactics to work toward that goal.


I believe the best way to work is in small communities of people who have the same goals/roughly the same view of the world. That's just how it is. So maybe instead of working groups, we have little groups of friends who just get together every day and work on what they want to work on? Or little groups within the working groups?


[-] 1 points by occupypuppies (71) 11 years ago

STRUCTURE: -don't yell -don't curse -other than that, do whatever you want

I think that's fair.

[-] 1 points by ithink (761) from York, PA 11 years ago

I think it will be hard to do this right. Something like this will only be useful if you get enough people voting regularly. I have seen several different approaches to this already and it is only a matter of time before someone hits the nail on the head. But I think it is possible and could bring to light some interesting results. Perhaps it's not for everyone, but a single solution rarely is.

[-] 1 points by ImaDreamer (82) 11 years ago

Thanks for your comment. Since the people here don't seem interested, I am trying to find someone who can write the code to create the voting system for my own political site. Things get complicated due to needing moderation by an "election committee" and I can only afford a few hundred bucks, so I haven't had much luck yet, but I will eventually get it done (I hope :) And you make a good point that it won't really work if lots of people aren't involved in the voting. I guess I'm hoping, "if you build it, they will come" :)

[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5909) 11 years ago

I think the requirements of an Informed Democracy may be more work than what most in OWS would be willing to do but otherwise it sounds like a good idea.

[-] 1 points by AFarewellToKings (1486) 11 years ago

I think the folks over at the 99% Declaration would be interested in this. They are right in the middle of acquiring voting software for electing delegates and this idea of yours may enhance the project.


[-] 1 points by ImaDreamer (82) 11 years ago

I tried to contact them about this but there is no way to get a message to anyone there via their site.


[-] 0 points by CrowPotkin (22) from Holbrook, NY 11 years ago

Useless idea. It is all premised around the concept that OWS needs a platform, when OWS IS the platform. Expressing what you are "in support of" without any other catalyzing mention of how it is to be achieved completely undermines the entire concept of direct action-- you're essentially passing the buck to "managers" instead of actually taking responsibility for what occurs. In short, this system is just as alienating as the existing representative democracy.

As the old adage goes, "actions speak louder than words" and offering mere words over concrete actions falls right under that rubric.

[-] 1 points by ImaDreamer (82) 11 years ago

Boy do you have this whole idea completely wrong. The object of a voting system is to discover SPECIFIC things lots of people can get behind and take action to implement. Should we as a group put a ton of energy into demanding that whales get more protection, that women be allowed to go topless, or what? The point is to discover which policies and ACTIONS a lot of us can support, and when we know where the support is, we know what actions to take that will get the most people participating in those actions.

[-] 0 points by CrowPotkin (22) from Holbrook, NY 11 years ago

Why do "a lot of us" need to support it? This liberal love for "mass organization" completely defeats the purpose of a decentralized movements like OWS. Maybe appealing to mass organization was pragmatic a century ago, but today mass matters a whole heck of a lot less. The state, the class system, etc, are underpinned less through the application of blunt social force and more through complicated machinations. The ecosystems of power relations we find ourselves embedded within can sustain great pressure, they can handle mass. The key to winning the war today is not mass — we’re not out to win some Revolution as though it were an election by another name — the key is intelligent proactive exploitation of weak spots. Killing the motherfucker will involve a whole lot less brute grappling and a whole lot more hacking.

And I again reiterate that you're completely missing the point of direct democracy if you think we all as a group should be making these wider decisions together. It could very well be the case that I have no immediate interest in saving the whales, especially if one of my more immediate interests is having a roof over my head with the approaching winter. So it does not follow that group efforts should be directed en masse unless every agent has an actual interest in doing so.

[-] 0 points by ronjj (-241) 11 years ago

Hey CrowPotkin

Thanks for the post. I have been collecting written materials for a friend of mine to use in her English class at the local university and she will probably be using yours this next semester.

It is the typical example of the KKKK ("Kiss-Kiss-Kill-Kiss") approach to writing and is a must for inclusion in her classes. You have prepared an example that is not unique to these forums but is very effectively done. Thanks

[-] 1 points by CrowPotkin (22) from Holbrook, NY 11 years ago

At the very least, people will be exposed to new thinking. I'm only doing my part for the betterment of the human race.

[-] 0 points by ronjj (-241) 11 years ago

Morning CrowPotkin

I really like what you posted except for that "killing" thing. If what you post in the final paragraph above is your main point and the one that you really believe in, should not the approach be the following:

  1. "Give me liberty,or give me death". Liberty is the only way known to prove your point and gain what you are really after.

  2. You are very correct in your approach to the efforts of the individual or a collection of individuals. Today's society is a society of mass, of division into masses and efforts to control the masses, whether by government, corporations, so called saviours of the masses, etc.

  3. You call for the very freedoms that America is based up. The whale lovers have no more right to make others feel guilty and thus promote their agendas that do any other group, yet these groups are all about creating these masses and controlling them so that in effect they promote their own agenda above even those that support them and usually gain financially themselves from so doing.

  4. The freedom for the individual to protect the whales or to seek a roof over their head is what this country is all about. ONLY when we think that our freedoms far exceed those of others does the system fail - whether we are talking about our elected officials, or the homeless. Without that liberty, we are merely subject to the controls provided over thei masses.

Thanks again.