Manipulating public opinion via social media played a critical role in Trump’s win. But what happens if we use that same technology for good? It’s time to find out.
Online technologies at Facebook, Twitter and Google were very influential in the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. One consequence of the Russian bots foreign election influence was the moral authority of the POTUS has been suspect since Trump took office.
It’s clearly not been healthy for our democracy. However retreating from the full truth about what happened will spell the end of our democracy. We need outside the box thinking in 2019. Waiting for 2020 is a foolish strategy.
The New Congress needs truly fresh ideas and I am now proposing that Transparent Open-Source Democracy Forum ( Software) be created – as part of a smart Democratic Candidate’s platform. Why let these communication technologies drown us when we can just as easily ride this wave to a better democracy here and consequently to a better planet for all mankind? In other words, why should the bad guys be using these technologies in 2020 while we sit by and watch this same show again? It’s just not smart. And we’ll need fresh and smart this cycle.
The very same platforms that helped spread Russian lies and fake news, changing the arc of American politics, can be used to heal our divided country and create an informed consensus that reflects the true attitudes and desires of the majority.
Open-Source Issue-driven Democracy Software and Forum would function as a perpetual town hall meeting. It would inform our elected representatives of what the majority of Americans want. We will never have to hear politicians tell us what we want again!
Instead of a candidate telling us what we want and need, the smart candidate asks: “Americans, on both sides – what do you want?” Politicians are supposed to support our lives – not the other way around! Ten pressing issues can be discussed and we vote on the first Tuesday of every month. Sure, the votes don’t count – but they will be what informs this smart candidate of what the entire country’s majority wants. And that would be the prime job of this website. Our elected representatives only job is to support what the majority of Americans really want. The software finds out what that majority opinion really is while educating citizens. It’s a win win. And the way politicians keep using their offices for self-enrichment, and defending their cronies who do the same, it’s a smart fix for a government which has long been corrupt in nature.
Here is my example short list of ten top issues pressing on Americans right now. But I welcome a discussion on these issues.
- Healthcare – How do we want to treat pre-existing conditions? Do we want medicare for all or a combination of two systems? How do we rein in prescription drug prices? What do we do when people don’t want healthcare? etc.
- Taxation and income inequality – Income inequality is a world-wide issue. Should there be a cap on what SEO’s can make? Should the tax break given to big corps by the Trump administration continue, expand – or scale back? Do we need a more progressive tax system the way it was in the 1950’s? etc.
- Gun laws – Do the majority of Americans want background checks? Checks on automatic weapons? Better protection in schools? etc.
- Border Security – What do we really want here?
- Infrastructure – American infrastructure is falling behind the pace set in modern countries like Japan. Where and when do we start catching up?
- Money in politics – Do Americans like Citizens United and lobbying? Should government reps not be able to serve unless they show their taxes?
- Internet regulations and social media – What do Americans on both sides want here?
- Gerrymandering and voting rights – What do we want? This should not be up to elected officials in a democracy.
- Climate science, environment and R & D – The planet’s #1 issue needs our all our focused energies. We don’t need to be torn apart over this. The software would allow the smartest among us to educate all of us with brilliant ideas that can be deployed.
- Education – We are falling behind in all age levels when it comes to education. How do we turn this around?
What does this software look like? This is what democracy looks like.
It just looks like a website with categories to explore. Nothing complicated. The categories are simply the issues we need to discuss. In each category, there are links to education on the issue, articles by experts from both sides, guest speakers and a chat room where citizens can discuss issues in a civil manner. Bad words are auto-censored. The technology for all of this exists. People who violate rules of engagement are banned.
No bots are allowed. There are ways to insure that. Facebook just does not try hard enough. Besides the education room and chat room there are two more rooms. One is a voting room. First Tuesday of every month we all vote on what we are learning. The votes are never for people. The votes are for the issues. And there is a vote tabulation room where results are published. That creates the big data we need to know where the center of America really is.
Penalties for wayward politicians must be established in 2019. Showing one’s taxes is a must. The law should read that no one can “serve” in federal government without openly declaring 6 years of taxes. We don’t want this to happen ever again.
Politicians who do not vote for what the majority decides are violating their oaths of office. We’ll have to make laws that say violating one’s oath is grounds for immediate impeachment. None of this 66% of the Congress stuff. That’s the law that has us in chains. I don’t think the founders figured on Congress members becoming so sold out. Morality and economics were way different when our constitution was written. And generally, relying on things that were written so long ago is a recipe for being out of touch.
And that’s it. The Forum for Democracy can help us solve our political and civic engagement problems. It could finally make good use of internet and social media technologies. And if it works here, it can work anywhere. Brexit? It can work there too. The Middle East? Why not? But first things first. We really have to fix the American democracy first. The world is watching. Our example can reform the world. And if we don’t succeed we may enter a new modern form of the Middle Ages.
The software can be adopted by a small group, like a town. That town could be here in the USA or a village somewhere in Africa. It works the same everywhere and anywhere people want democracy to govern their decisions! It can start small like a ripple. But it scales large like a tsunami.
We all now can see the degree of dysfunction and corruption in governments, both here and abroad. The media is doing that job fairly well. So with that track record and with Congress being less popular than cockroaches, why should citizens leave their governing to politicians? That seems to be a long-broken model. But that dysfunctional model can be fixed with Democratic Software and a burning desire to clean up corruption.
Let’s face it. Politicians have repeatedly proven themselves to be sold out as a group. Yes, there are some dedicated public servants in politics. Our new Congress has many optimistic young members. But there are also greedy business people and criminals who, legally and illegally, consider public service as an opportunity to steal from the public. Some even have foreign bank accounts to hide their theft. These politicians are, at best, unnecessary middlemen for our values – and at worse, they just ignore them and push for self-dealing.
Democratic Software, where citizens openly discuss ideas to improve their own common welfare and how to pay for it, could repair the citizen-representative disconnect which exists today even in so-called Democratic countries. That disconnect is glaringly obvious in the Trump GOP. They passed tax cuts for super-rich without the consent of their electorate. And they are trying to dismantle HealthCare for all, which just about every citizen wants. It makes zero sense to allow these people to legislate for us.
In a representative democracy, politicians should be doing our bidding. The re– in “re-presentative” government means we must first “present” our ideas. If we don’t first present ideas, we can’t blame the humans-are-greedy-by-nature politicians for taking advantage of their status – and representing for themselves or for their donors. Same thing when they can get paid secretly. After all, the largest USA representative, our president, is openly and clearly self-dealing.
So we need a private platform where we can voice and discuss our ideas and reach a consensus. And we have the technology already! What are we waiting for? We have reached the “just do it” moment. We can’t blame the politicians any longer. It’s getting old. We can only blame ourselves for letting them do this to us – over and over again.
The new Congress must change the laws against self-dealing too. Why do we allow representatives to have undeclared bank accounts? Why do we allow a presidential candidate to not show his taxes. This is pure stupidity. And it’s killing us.
One of the biggest challenges for the new Congress is to restore faith in the Congress. Many who support Trump still would still vote for Trump over Hillary. They reason she was dirty too. Some think Obama, Bush and Clinton were dirty as well. Trump and GOP supporters will need to see that there is such a thing as politicians who really care and for for the common welfare. If they don’t see and believe that, they will stick to what they are familiar with and we will continue this downwards spiral as a country. This is Russia’s long game objective. They have the patience to watch us devolve. We are actually losing that patience here now. We have to reach the “enough” phase and soon.
Politicians should really be bots for our decisions and have no right to sabotage the majority opinion.
There would be chat rooms to discuss all issues from gay rights to gun rights and links to real information from recognized experts on all sides of the arguments. There could even be a place for political ads ( to help pay for the servers and tech – this has to be a non-profit enterprise ) by American companies and vetted individuals, with equal space for ads guaranteed. We don’t have to wait for government to do this! This software would exist now outside of government with the objective to inform government with big data.
And yes, some issues are more national in scope than others, like air and water quality. There could be even world-wide discussions to pave a way to real world peace – to end terrorism – and even to insure the survival of the species. Imagine that! We can have forums on global warming and listen to the experts and then take informed actions.
We have this technology right now! The Google/Facebook technology was sabotaged by international criminals to get their boy to win the election of 2016. Reverse engineer this technology to redefine the way government functions. This is easy! Look into Voatz.com. They have the voting software already! We’ll need to partner with them or someone like them.
Regular Mock Votes
An essential part of any mock government site would be regularly scheduled mock voting days. Maybe we could have them once a month to form good habits. We could call the first Tuesday of every month – Mock Vote Day – and reinforce the healthy civic tradition of getting real information and voting our own minds.
The sheer numbers in these monthly mock government votes would inform the honest players in our actual government as to the direction the majority really wants to be steered. Those who would de-rail this will be swiftly exposed. Mock Democracy with voting software is a super strong meme. Statistics don’t lie – they inform us.
And then we can finally insist that our representatives re-present the ideas of the majority, the way a democracy should work. Politicians who don’t represent the consensus would be quickly exposed and voted out or removed from office for not representing the majority, which his their sworn duty.
TRANSPARENT OPEN-SOURCE DEMOCRACY FORUM (SOFTWARE) Ideally, this starts small and software improvements are made as needed.
CITY > STATE > COUNTRY > GLOBE
This is also the smartest way we can deal with the real elephant in our room – global warming. We’ll have to pool our brains and cut out the autocrats who milk the old ways for their own good – to the detriment of the human species.
Based on the current popularity of political news shows, I think Americans are ready for this. We can essentially use the same door employed to enter this dysfunctional governmental state- to exit it!
And if they ( Facebook, Google, or CNN) don’t want to do this – we can do this ourselves too. We can even Shark Tank the concept, if need be.
Can we share this on social media so it gets to the powers that be in the media, please?
Relevant prior posts:
This post explains why we are in this struggle. It’s not about right vs. left. That is a facade. It’s about criminals and autocrats infiltrating governments everywhere.
This post explains how in a country of 300 million, a handful of humans can steer the laws of our country so they benefit the richest and most dishonest among us.
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About the Author
Joseph Aronesty graduated from University of Pennsylvania in 1971. He attended an International Finance class with Donald Trump, back in the day – and worked close to Trump in AC in the 1980’s.
Joseph Aronesty is a father of five, e-commerce pioneer, songwriter, author, creator of Etymology by Ear, activist since 2015. @EnglishCodeWord