THOUGHTS (continued)

Within the last half century, some individuals and groups have begun to think about alternative ways to operate governments more democratically. These thoughts have taken two directions.

First: development of new governmental models that allow individual citizens to participate in government decision-making.
Second: development of processes that assist groups of common citizens to make informed and logical decisions, as good—or better—than professional politicians.

The first direction is exemplified by the proposed National Initiative For Democracy comprised of a Democracy Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and a Federal statute law called the Democracy Act, which together assert the citizens’ sovereign rights as lawmakers and provide the tools to assert that right.
A second plan has been offered by the E.F. Schumacher Society called Decentralization, which emphasizes the efficiency and relevancy of small neighborhood and regional government units as opposed to large centralized governments.
Then, there is the Simultaneous Policy plan by John Bunzl, founder of the International Simultaneous Policy Organisation. This plan deems it necessary to convert the entire planet to DD simultaneously or, it is implied, DD on Earth is impossible. At the very beginning of his document Mr. Bunzl admits that “it’s clearly going to take some years for SP to be adopted by sufficient nations” for DD to sink roots.
Another approach to modify government's structure is called A New Way To Govern by Shann Turnbill, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. Professor Shann's plan revolves around a principle called Network Governance. This approach involves the restructure of government to include "stakeholder councils." A stakeholder being anyone affected by government such as government officials, government employees, common citizens, professional advisors, etc. Each of these councils would function as both advisory and watchdog groups. Together, the councils would exert a regulating influence to keep government honest and efficient, benefitting society as a whole.

There are other such plans with merit popping up all the time as individuals around the globe become dissatisfied with elitist governments and top-down lawmaking processes, such as Plan B For Managing Civilization by John Lowry, Beyond Plutocracy, by Roger Rothenberger, and Inclusive Democracy by Greek journalist/author Takis Fotopoulos.
Then, of course, there are the traditional Initiative & Referendum movements within the U.S. The first state to include I&R for its citizens was Nebraska in 1897. Today, one hundred and eight years later, only 22 states have approved I&R, while the elitist governments of 28 states have ignored citizen demands for these political rights, or merely passed restricted versions of either the initiative or the referendum.
As for development in the second direction taken toward DD, there are two similar, but different tools being successfully tested.
First there is Professor Peter Dienel's Planning Cells method. A Planning Cell is comprised of a randomly selected group of nonpartisan citizens gathered for three or four days to discuss, deliberate, and decide how to respond to a single social issue or need. Citizens are reimbursed for income lost and given a daily expense allowance. Decisions are passed on to the commissioning body—normally a government agency. Planning Cells have been successfully utilized throughout Europe since 1972.
Second, in the U.S. the Jefferson Centre has initiated a similar process it calls Citizen Juries, whose members are also selected randomly. Citizen Juries have been used in the U.S. on such projects as Minnesota's Property Tax Reform, Physician Assisted Suicide, Comparing Environmental Risks, and Welfare Reform. Citizen Juries have been utilized in Australia and in England.
There is also a nonprofit organization in the U.S. called "America Speaks" with a program it calls 21st Century Town Meetings. America Speaks has among its clients city and state governments, universities, not-for-profit and private sector corporations who commission it to engage citizens in discussion about specific topics. The organization may give the appearance of promoting DD, but initiating DD isn't truly among its priorities.
In 2004, the citizens of British Columbia, Canada, formed a Citizens Assembly that met for eleven months studying international electoral systems. They made their suggestions for federal electoral reform in a report to the government and the people of British Columbia in December of 2004. However, as is the norm with elitist government, the Canadian Parliament's Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs tabled the report. Obviously, committee members feared giving commoners decision-making powers.

All of these experiments designed to allow the common people to effectively participate in the decision-making processes of government, however, are structured to function parallel to existing command and control systems, complementing, rather than replacing them, or they rely upon these elitist, top-down systems for funding to function effectively, which rarely happens.
Why not? Because wealthy, privileged citizens don't want to share political power with the masses and jeopardize their wealth and way of life. That's why! It's why these seedling experiments will never be given the opportunity to fully blossom, and why the privilege of I&R is still being withheld from Americans in 28 states.

There has been more than enough talk throughout the past few decades, and in recent years on the internet, about the advantages to be gained by the common masses of Earth should they adopt the political form of government known as "participatory" or "direct" democracy. It's time to transfer such talk into physical action in the real world.
What is needed at this stage of human evolution is a financially independent organization with a program to help fulfill the demand for just government. Such an organization would accomplish its goals by educating commoners with the knowledge and skills of the Planning Cell and Citizen Jury procedures, and by doing so would increase the demand for participatory democracy.
I offer a vision of such an organization, recognizing its limitations as well as its potentials.