Almost all the deeper conversations we’ve had on the topic of democratic systems over the past decade or so have concluded with the model of Liquid Democracy most likely being the best. With the current Representative model being hollow, with little or no connection between people at the grassroots and their representatives, Direct Democracy being the obvious antidote (and is the model VocalEyes currently uses) – ie, everyone has a say and votes on everything. Direct Democracy can work very well but issues can arise as the model becomes established and people start to feel overwhelmed with so many ideas, opinions and issues to engage with.
The middle ground is Liquid (or Delegate) Democracy where you delegate single issues, or topics of issues, i.e. transport, healthcare, energy. to those people you know and trust have a great deal of expertise, reputation and track record on the subject. This model enables everyday citizens to begin to build a tangible profile for their dedication, commitment and impact in their areas of expertise and passion.
It’s an interesting thought exercise to imagine what sort of profile you or your friends might end up, and whether you would opt in to accept the responsibility others might empower you with.
People can develop at least 3 types of relationships with their delegates:
– Devolve full decision making
– Review decisions before they commit and potentially override
– Vote directly
Then when it comes to making decisions on an issue, the Liquid Democracy delegate database can be searched (i.e. those with the most trusted reputations on renewable energy in the Swansea area), and the top 5 or 10 can be brought together to form a “Design Team” for a specific purpose, perhaps to help inform the randomly selected Citizens’ Assembly.
As with eBay, and other sites that have user profile reputation at the core of their functionality to try to maintain integrity, once established you would be able to click on a delegate’s profile, view their areas of expertise, the number of people who trust them and have delegated decision making to them for each specific topic, the decisions the delegate has made and the impact, or lack of, derived from the decisions being made.
If you contrast this with the existing functionality you find on websites such as our own directory of Swansea Councillors here, you can begin to envisage how much more open, transparent and impactful the new process would become.
It’s “liquid”, because as with an ebay seller who may provide a good service for some time, they can loose their trust very quickly if the quality of service begins to falter and vise versa, someone should shoot up through the ranks who proves to be able to deliver greater positive impact to society and planet.
Once new funding is secured, VocalEyes will be building this functionality as an option for Groups and pilots can begin in schools, groups and communities. We believe this model could compliment Citizens’ Assemblies as well as providing an organic model for leadership, working groups and decision making inside groups more generally.
If you’d be interested in co-designing, programming and/or piloting this model, please do contact us.