We decide who we are, as a country, every day, and announce it to the world by both our words and our actions. We continually declare our values, our priorities, and exactly what “We The People” stands for, both to ourselves and to all of our global neighbors.
But has that declaration, and those decisions, included your own voice? Have you had a meaningful role in helping shape the very definition of what the United States of America stands for? What is a country, anyway?
It’s certainly more than just the land upon which it sits. It exists first in the minds and hearts of our citizens. But what if those hearts and minds, while agreeing on lofty ideals, hold very different views about what makes our country great? Or about forces that may threaten the very fabric of our democracy? In our highly polarized political climate, finding agreement among partisans often seems like a fool’s errand.
We say we believe in “majority rules,” yet how would we even know which side actually represents the majority? The go-to answer is usually a reference to public opinion polls, yet polls are not an instrument of democracy. They extrapolate their results from an infinitesimal fraction of the general population and then imply that it is representative of public sentiment, nationwide.
Polls are an extrapolation, not an expression of democracy. No one is actually asking citizens themselves to vote on how we feel about the important issues that affect us all. And it is these very issues, in combination, that define who we are as a country.
What are our collective values, intentions, and priorities? Do we really want change? If so, what do we want it to look like? How high a national priority is addressing climate change? Do we believe that health care is a right or a privilege? What about guns? Are there any limits to ownership that should be enacted?
Where do we stand on foreign military actions? How soon should we act? In what ways? In almost any area, what is it that we will and will not tolerate, both at home and abroad?
The answers to questions like these define us. But we have never really had clear answers that represent us all because we have never had the practical ability to securely ask each and every one of us to weigh in on specific issues of collective importance — until now.
For the first time in our known human history, it is now possible for an unlimited number of citizens to gather in one place, around individual issues, to express our collective advisory voice — a voice that defines us as a country. That place is online. But it isn’t on Facebook or any other social network, nor should it be.
A new, nonphysical overlay to our geographically defined country can now be manifested in the real world - an overlay that promises to provide a new, coherent, long-term, advisory input capability for all citizens. We can add a virtual layer of democracy, online, at a new national institution that We the People build and transparently maintain. At a virtual town square: the National Town Square.
While the opportunity before us is one of great historical importance, it has not yet been widely recognized. With a secure, virtual voting booth, potentially as close as the phone or mobile device in one’s purse or pocket, a path emerges for everyday citizens to provide collective, non-binding input to our elected representatives, on an ongoing basis.
Obviously, there are many details to get right. But if citizens do not seize the opportunity while we can, the same forces that have already compromised our democracy will no doubt attempt to extend those efforts online. This opportunity cannot be left to chance.
There exists at least one, specific strategy for manifesting a new, citizen-run, national institution for civic engagement, as an effective counter-balance to the corrupting influence of big money in politics. It’s a strategy that I and others discovered, developed, tended to, and have held dear for more than 20 years. And now, the time to manifest this strategy has arrived.
I have strived to organize the related issues and proposed steps for re-invigorating our democracy in my new book, many years in the making, entitled “Virtual Country: Strategy for 21st Century Democracy.” This short book outlines actual steps that can be taken to manifest a new national mechanism for collective citizen input. It also examines the political environment and various challenges that must be met, in order to successfully execute on the strategy.
My book asks the important question: “Who will own democracy” in the 21st century? It provides a workable plan to overcome challenges that include “fake news,” trolls, citizen inertia, cyber-warfare and others. The strategy can be implemented right now. The technology is already available. No new laws need to be passed, no approvals are needed, and no elected representatives need to be persuaded in order to move forward. Best of all, We the People are guaranteed the ability to lawfully implement this strategy, thanks to our first amendment rights: freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.
Our country is clearly ready to transcend the built-in polarization of the 2-party paradigm, and enter into a new era of “issue-based democracy.” We can, in fact, establish a secure, protectable new venue for collective citizen input. Instead of simply resisting what is, we can also manifest an actual, workable, long-term solution. This is a non-partisan, non-corporate, non-governmental political strategy. And it is completely implementable.
I urge you to read the Virtual Country strategy, and then see how you, as an individual, actually can make a real difference. If you can’t afford the book, let me know and I’ll send you a free PDF copy ([email protected]). Together, we can define who we really are as a country, and in the process, renew our democracy.