Experiments are demonstrating that it is possible to regenerate democracies by giving ordinary voters a greater voice and influence with their representatives. To transform a system, it works best to start at the source and origin – in local, regional and provincial elections. If voters connect with the process, and that is very likely, it can migrate to federal levels. These experiments come at a time when technologies like blockchain may allow us safe and secure new voting methods or robust and transparent displays of government budgets and accountability.
Why do we need to upgrade democracy?
Just as there is a pharma industry, a car industry and a banking industry, there is a politics industry - invisible, yet in plain sight. It may be one of the most destructive industries in the world, because it creates campaigns and ads that reject, downplay and mock climate science or other ecological threats. This slows adoption of policies and legislation that would benefit us all. The politics industry is also paid to polarise and to broadcast disinformation. It is a global multibillion-dollar industry that thrives on discord, conflict and opposition, and it accomplishes this by dehumanising opponents. Dehumanisation is another form of degeneration. We cannot regenerate in a degenerative political climate.
The politics industry is not designed or intended to serve voters. Like all industries, it serves itself. World over, most people realise that their political systems are corrupt, dysfunctional, and/or unworkable. There are notable exceptions in northern Europe, but they highlight how politics has become the single greatest obstacle to planetary regeneration.
How are others attempting to Upgrade Democracy?
There are many ways that people around the world are attempting to upgrade democracy. Below is a small sample. If you have any further examples that you think should be on this list, please get in touch.
Participatory Democracy & Budgets (Citizen Juries)
In many countries, frustrated citizens are reclaiming democracy by finding candidates that represent the values of their community - not candidates that represent the values of corporate or vested interests. They are also coming together to make decisions themselves. Participatory democracy and budgeting is a movement that started in Brazil in the late 1980s and has taken off around the world. Citizens come together in groups to decide outcomes in their communities. Some are allocated government budgets, while others meet as ‘juries’ to assist in local decision-making. Studies show that the process benefits a wider range of the community.
Online voting tool
Advances in blockchain technology are making secure online voting a possibility for the future. Some countries like Japan, Sierra Leone and the USA have already experimented - with varying success. Estonia continues to lead the way; it was the first nation to hold legally binding online general elections in 2005.
Youth Advisory Council
The Danish Parliament has recently established a Youth Advisory Council that consults the government about issues of concern for younger generations. Given the impacts of climate change, the housing crisis and other social issues will be strongest felt by the next generation, isn’t it time for other countries to follow Denmark’s lead?
Federal Anti-Corruption Commission
It is very clear that Australians and other global citizens have lost trust in its politicians. One way of bringing that back is through a powerful and independent federal corruption watchdog. While no silver bullet, it would provide a sense of security for voters that their politicians' decision-making process is fair, honest and free of influence.
(protection and rights of nature)
Ecological law and Rights of Nature has taken off around the world in the last decade. There are now over 400 meaningful cases underway. Rights of Nature grants legal personhood to ecosystems, with famous cases including the Whanganui River in NZ and the country of Ecuador. Many argue that we grant legal personhood to corporations, isn’t it time to also grant them to the natural systems we depend on for survival? We may be hearing a lot more about ‘Ecocide’ in the future.
Some of these solutions are featured in our short film - Regenerate Australia. Find out where you can see the film.
Regenerative actions you can implement in your life
We believe every one of us has a role to play in Regeneration. If you are interested in helping to Upgrade Democracy, here are some actions we have identified that you could take on in your life.