Solving A Global Crisis
"The destructive way in which the U.S. and other countries are handling intractable conflicts--both our governments and private citizens--is the single biggest threat to human welfare--indeed, human survival--that there is." MIT Scholars G. Burgess and H. Burgess.
The Global Social Network for Voters
The threat of intractable conflicts can be overcome by a new global social network and its unique consensus-building mechanisms. Voters, lawmakers, political parties, and electoral candidates can resolve conflicts and reconcile divergent legislative priorities using these mechanisms.
In particular, the network's mechanisms empower voters--the original source of political sovereignty--to take the lead in resolving conflicts. They can build consensus around common legislative agendas across ideological and partisan lines, and form and manage their own voting blocs, political parties, and electoral coalitions.
At the same time, voters and their blocs, parties, and coalitions can gain control of elections and legislation democratically. Their members can propose and vote on nominations of electoral candidates, so they can elect lawmakers of their choice to enact their legislative agendas and conflict resolution mandates. By reaching out to voters across partisan lines, they can forge winning electoral bases within and across election districts and national boundaries to resolve domestic and cross-national crises, conflicts, and emergencies.
When fully operationalized, voters worldwide will be able to join the network, define their own legislative priorities, and connect with voters who share their priorities. They will be able to determine who runs for office, who gets elected, and what laws are passed, as illustrated in this web-based invitation:
Consensus-Building Mainstream Voters
Long-standing democratic institutions and processes in countries around the world, including the U.S., are being undermined, and replaced by authoritarian practices. Key elective positions are being won by authoritarian politicians, and election laws are being changed to empower them to decide who wins elections.
Among many common causes, increases of authoritarianism often stem from politicians' use of political propaganda to rile up voters who are already dissatisfied with elected governments, and the failure of lawmakers to respond to their needs. They use social media to get elected by creating electoral bases of angry voters whose views they manipulate, while limiting their voting rights and even suppressing their votes.
Fortunately, the large majority of mainstream voters, in the U.S. and worldwide, have the critical thinking skills and centrist views to see through these authoritarian ploys, especially when they have opportunities to weigh their alternatives, individually and in groups, and define their own priorities free of ideological and partisan constraints.
Decades of research have shown that large majorities of mainstream voters in the U.S. and worldwide prefer compromise across partisan lines to resolve political conflicts and prevent legislative stalemates. Such conflicts especially include those fueled by hyper-partisan political parties, party-backed lawmakers, electoral candidates, and special interests that contrive conflicts to polarize voters and sway elections.
To circumvent such conflicts, the Global Social Network for Voters empowers autonomous agenda-setting, and political organizing by consensus-building voters.
➢ Voter-controlled blocs, parties, and coalitions can direct, defeat, and replace uncompromising hyper-partisan lawmakers by conducting petition drives, referendums, initiatives, and recall votes using the network's voting utility and communications tools to publicize the results. They can transmit the results to direct lawmakers to enact voters' agendas or risk defeat in upcoming elections.
➢ Consensus-building across partisan lines is an inherent feature of the network. It strategically motivates voters seeking to win elections to reach out to voters across the partisan spectrum and invite them to join their blocs, parties, and coalitions in reconciling divergent legislative priorities.
➢ By so doing, they can build cross-partisan electoral bases large enough to elect candidates of their choice to legislative bodies to enact their agendas.
➢ In contrast, electoral bases of hyper-partisan political parties and electoral candidates, which do not reach out across partisan lines, are likely to be too small to defeat the candidates of cross-partisan voting blocs, political parties, and electoral coalitions.
➢ Global scope: Voters can use the network to host and operate voting blocs, parties, and coalitions in multiple election districts within and across national boundaries.
➢ They can use network tools to create sub-aggregates of their members to register in jurisdictions in which they are eligible to vote.
➢ By so doing, they can mandate lawmakers in multiple jurisdictions to enact common legislative agendas for resolving conflicts, crises, and emergencies that cross borders and require cross-national cooperation. These include climate disruption, global pandemics, and geopolitical confrontations.
A six step encapsulation of the Global Social Network for Voters is provided below, illustrating how voters can build consensus across partisan lines to prevent and resolve political conflicts and legislative stalemates.
These six types of activities enable unprecedented horizontal and vertical “bottom-up” connections among voters. These connections enable them to freely communicate and collaborate with each other, autonomously define and debate their legislative priorities across partisan lines, and take collection to implement them electorally and legislatively.
Such activities and connections also enable voters to circumvent limitations placed upon their choices of priorities by "top down" vertically organized political parties. They enable voters to connect to each other at any time 24/7 to update, share and debate their priorities, reconcile divergent priorities, and build cross-partisan consensus to resolve divergent views and conflicts.
Voters worldwide can initiate and manage their own interactive, online dialogues framed by their own values, concepts, and knowledge bases. The network's computer-based question-answering capabilities enable voters to fact-check the information on which their priorities and political stances are based, and correct those found to be inaccurate or biased.
The network is design to perform this critical service by means of a distributed network of databases. Voters can access these databases through the network's decision-assisting Artificial Intelligence technology, including web-based agenda-setting, consensus-building, and political organizing tools .
Interactive question-answering dialogues initiated by voters and technologically mediated by the network, enable voters to set legislative agendas across the board. They can formulate queries to elicit a range of fact-checked options for their consideration, as they seek to resolve conflicts and common problems, crises, emergencies and conflicts requiring legislative action.
Agenda-setting tools enable individual voters to define their legislative priorities and connect with voters with similar priorities to collaboratively evaluate a far greater range of options for solving common problems than those typically provided by established political parties adhering to ideological agendas. Voters can build consensus across partisan lines and form voting blocs, political parties, and electoral coalitions with sufficient cross-partisan voting strength and electoral bases large enough to elect lawmakers of their choice to enact voters’ agendas.
The network's crowdsourcing capabilities enable voters to build and manage self-selecting, self-organizing blocs, parties, and coalitions, which they can operate within and across the boundaries of multiple election districts and national boundaries. The network's collaborative decision-making tools enable them to engage collaboratively in online problem-solving to collectively devise legislative solutions to interdependent domestic and cross-national crises. Voters can implement their solutions by joining or starting blocs, parties, and coalitions, and operating them globally and domestically in specific election jurisdictions of their choice where their members can register to vote in sufficient numbers to elect representatives to enact common agendas.
These voter-controlled political organizations and movements can pressure elected representatives to enact their agendas by conducting petition drives, referenda, initiatives, and anticipatory recall votes, and publicizing results they transmit to lawmakers as legislative mandates.
The transformative, breakthrough technology provided by the network is urgently needed, given the globalization of inter-connected challenges and crises, such as the contemporary global Covid-19 pandemic and extreme weather catastrophes. It is among the most promising solution to ending the legislative stalemates and gridlock that typically paralyze many legislative bodies throughout the world.
Step 1. Social Networking.
To protect the privacy of individual users, the network enables individuals intending to vote (they do not have to be registered to vote or indicate where they intend to vote) to obtain verified, encrypted identities to gain authorization to access VotersUnited.Global's social networking website to specify and implement their legislative priorities, individually and collectively, using the site’s online agenda setting, consensus building, and political organizing tools and services.
This encryption option prevents access to the network by unidentified and disguised social media users, such as trolls, bots, and foreign entities, which might mislead, confuse, distort and bias voters' perceptions in order to sway their political alignments. (See Julian King. 2018. "Democracy is under threat from the malicious use of technology. The EU is fighting back." The Guardian).
The network's decision-assisting Artificial Intelligence technology enables voters to create and control access to their own intra-network communication channels and customized, self-managed knowledge bases. They can initiate and manage their own online dialogues to share, discuss, and debate voters’ views about possible solutions to problems requiring legislative action.
The network enables voters to correct the biases of mass media and social media users in instances in which voters find they mislead and distort voters’ views. They can do so because voters can use the network's computer-based, question-answering technology to fact check the information on which their own priorities are based, individually and collectively. They can also publicize, if they choose to do so, the legislative priorities of large numbers of voters based on fact-checked, unbiased information.
Oxford University scientist Polonski describes as follows advantages, disadvantages, and dilemmas associated with AI and machine learning technology, such as that utilized by VotersUnited.Global:
“A representative democracy depends on free and fair elections in which citizens can vote with their conscience, free of intimidation or manipulation. Yet for the first time ever, we are in real danger of undermining fair elections – if this technology continues to be used to manipulate voters and promote extremist narratives."
"Towards human-centred AI"
"It is easy to blame AI technology for the world’s wrongs (or for lost elections), but there’s the rub: the underlying technology is not inherently harmful in itself. The same algorithmic tools used to mislead, misinform and confuse can be repurposed to support democracy and increase civic engagement. After all, human-centred AI in politics needs to work for the people with solutions that serve the electorate." (Vyacheslav Polonski. 2017. “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Uses of Machine Learning in Election Campaigns.” Centre for Public Impact (CPI)).
To circumvent biased social media communications, voters who join or create voting blocs, parties, and coalitions hosted on the network can collectively gather, evaluate, share, discuss, and debate information culled from the network's decision-assisting Artificial Intelligence technology and its computer-based question-answering capabilities.
This includes information obtained from the network's distributed databases comprising repositories of laws, legislative proposals, deliberations, and votes; evaluations of the outcomes of legislatively enacted policies and programs; and legally accessible, curated content from social media, newspapers and journals.
Step 2. Collaborative Problem-Solving.
Voters can use VotersUnited.Global's technology to identify and connect to voters with similar priorities to solve common problems, crises, emergencies, and conflicts requiring legislative solutions. They can query the platform's computer question-answering learning machine in natural language to gather fact checked information and receive responses describing a plurality of options for voters' evaluation with respect to collectively resolving common problems, crises, emergencies, and conflicts requiring legislative solutions.
A premise of the network is that a major cause of the decline reported by the The Economist Intelligence Unit 2019 in the number of fully functioning democracies worldwide, derives from the lack of an effective online mechanism through which voters can specify their legislative priorities across the board, update them at will, and transmit their legislative agendas to their elected representatives as legislative mandates to direct their legislative decisions and actions.
Contemporary voters, especially in the U.S., play relatively passive roles in terms of determining legislative priorities and reconciling divergent priorities. Voters are unable to directly nominate their own candidates to run on electoral ballot lines. Instead they are constrained to choosing among party candidates who are already on party ballot lines, who have already set their own legislative agendas -- with virtually no input from voters -- and who enact laws in legislative bodies over which voters exert little influence or recourse.
A transformative alternative to this externally imposed passivity is provided by the network's technology-based capabilities that enable voters to collectively increase their influence over who runs for office, who gets elected, and what laws are passed. In particular, these capabilities enable voters to autonomously determine their own legislative priorities, rather than being restricted to endorsing priorities set by others. It connects voters horizontally, within and across election district boundaries, and provides them tools for solving common problems by collaboratively building consensus online across partisan lines to find common solutions through dialogue and interaction with voters across the political spectrum.
3. Crowdsourcing Legislative Consensus-Building.
It has long been known that self-selecting groups of people whose members come together to solve problems can exhibit greater problem-solving capabilities than those of their individual members acting alone. Such groups also tend to be more effective in solving problems than hierarchical organizations in which superordinates intervene to influence and control the problem-solving activities of subordinates.
These dynamics have also been found to operate in online "crowdsourcing" of self-selecting, self-organizing groups in a wide range of activities worldwide, including the governmental sphere where citizens "crowdsource" to improve government services and participate in budgetary decision-making along the lines of the Port Alegro model.
VotersUnited.Global and its Global Social Network for Voters amplifies and extends such crowdsourcing phenomena by enabling self-selecting, self-organizing groups of voters to participate more broadly and deeply in determining the outcomes of electoral and legislative processes. The network enables them to to solve problems that stymy lawmakers in hierarchically organized, politically polarized legislative bodies, by building consensus across partisan lines, setting common legislative agendas, and building voting blocs, political parties, and electoral coalitions to solve complex problems, crises, and solutions that surmount roadblocks to effective legislative action.
Step 4. Bloc, Party, and Coalition Agenda Setting.
Voters can use the network to circumvent the recognized, well-documented tendency of members of many groups to “go to extremes” in opposing other groups with whom they disagree. The positions they adopt can be based on inaccurate and biased information, deliberately contrived falsehoods, and negatively impact the well-being of others. This conflict-producing tendency is particularly evident on the part of groups participating in electoral and legislative processes. It can lead to legislative paralysis even in dire emergencies, particularly when opposing, partisan groups are competing with each other for influence and control of legislative bodies.
To counteract these group dynamics when they exist, voters can use the network's online voting utility to create consensus across partisan lines, via their online voting blocs, political parties, and electoral coalitions, around collectively set, common legislative agendas. These blocs, parties, and coalitions can fluidly interact with each other to seek common ground among ever greater numbers of voters across the spectrum, and acquire the voting strength they need to elect candidates of their choice to legislative bodies to enact their agendas.
In this regard, the network is distinguished by its capacity to further social progress worldwide by furthering evolutionary transformations of social norms and human interactional capabilities that foster cooperative social interaction. According to academicians, such as University of California/Berkeley Professor Dacher Keltner, these norms and capabilities favor greater egalitarianism, cooperation, consensus-building, and “bottom-up” power-sharing. (See Keltner. 2015. “Survival of the Kindest - YouTube.")
From infancy through adulthood, according to Keltner, self-determining individuals in egalitarian groups are more likely to cooperate, build consensus, share power and reduce inequities, instead of competing with each other, spawning conflicts and divisive factions, concentrating power, and exacerbating inequities -- the "going to extremes" behavior patterns and tendencies that typify many political parties’ modus operandi. (see Keltner. 2016. ‘The Power Paradox: The Promise and Peril of 21st Century Power’ | Talks at Google - YouTube."")
The network enables voters to increase the responsiveness of political parties to their legislative priorities, needs and demands because they can use its political organizing tools to win elections for candidates of their choice. Unlike traditional political parties, voters will be able to devise their own rules for managing their blocs, parties, and coalitions hosted on the system.
If any of their members disagree with the rules they set or aspects of their operational practices, the priorities they specify, or the candidates they select, dissatisfied voters can seek to change them by scheduling online votes for their membership using the network's online voting utility. If unsuccessful in winning enough votes to change the rules, these dissatisfied voters can exit unresponsive blocs, parties and coalitions to create their own, or join others already in existence on the network.
Once the membership of their blocs, parties, and coalitions attains the voting strength needed to win elections in specific election districts of their choice, they can use the network's tools and services to create sub-aggregates of voters who are eligible to vote, already registered to vote in such districts, or willing to register to vote. These sub-aggregates of voters can join already established political parties that have already acquired official ballot lines, or create new parties to elect candidates of their choice to legislative bodies representing these jurisdictions.
Step 5. Electing Consensus-Building Lawmakers.
Currently, small numbers of elected representatives, ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand, make legislative decisions and enact laws governing populations comprising millions of people. Often the laws they enact are piecemeal, ill-coordinated, and superficially researched to take account of antecedents and recognized consequences.
Typically, their legislative decision-making is not guided by the results of large scale consultation with lawmakers' constituents. Lawmakers lack large scale qualitative and quantitative mechanisms for consulting them, or inviting them to specify their legislative priorities in their own words, across the board. The result is that the majority of voters espouse legislative priorities that diverge from those of the elected lawmakers who are supposed to represent them.
To reverse this undemocratic phenomenon that undermines representative forms of government, voters’ blocs, parties, and coalitions can use the network's political organizing tools to plan and conduct online campaigns to endorse and elect consensus-building lawmakers of their choice to enact their legislative agendas.
Step 6. Continuously Advocating Legislative Mandates
Voters can use the network's online voting utility to continuously conduct online petition drives, referendums, initiatives, and anticipatory recall votes and transmit their results to lawmakers at any time to pressure them to enact voters agendas. They do not have to wait for periodic elections to express their needs and voice their demands, but intervene in real time, especially in emergencies and during crises, to inform lawmakers that they may risk defeat in forthcoming elections if they ignore voters' needs and demands.
Authorized voters belonging to voting blocs, political parties, and electoral coalitions hosted on the network can use its tools to plan and implement advocacy campaigns to get their priorities enacted into law by electing candidates of their choice to legislative bodies in election districts and nations of their choice, which have representative forms of government in which their citizens are entitled to vote to elect their representatives.
Voters can also pressure elected representatives in these jurisdictions to enact their agendas by using network tools to conduct online petition drives, referenda, initiatives, and anticipatory recall votes. They can use the results, in conjunction with evaluation of their representatives’ legislative actions, to decide whether to support their re-election in upcoming elections.
The infographics below illustrate how voters can join the Global Social Network for Voters to control elections and legislation, and build consensus across partisan lines to resolve conflicts, crises, and emergencies.
Voters will be able to familiarize themselves with the network's tools and services and increase their know-how for using them in actual elections by playing a multiparty online game of electoral strategy, the Citizens Winning Hands Game. The game will be accessible on VotersUnited.Global's website.