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High Leverage Proposals for Electoral and Political Transformation


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by Tom Atlee

June 2003





We've looked at one approach to electoral systems change that includes five high-leverage proposals:

  1. Voter-verified paper trails and open source software to prevent computerized election-day corruption.
  2. Clean money initiatives to handle special-interest distortion of election campaigns and governance.
  3. Multi-candidate debates and voting to handle two-party domination.
  4. Citizen reflective councils to bring wisdom to all public decision-making, including elections.
  5. National and state initiative processes through which We the People can pass needed laws when our representatives are not able or willing to do so.


There's nothing except my own limited experience and understanding that makes the above list of reforms and innovations special. Others have been thinking along similar lines. Here are five other comprehensive political reform proposals/campaigns that overlap with each other and with the one above.

Healthy Democracy offers popular structural reforms
but most their most powerful contribution is
their vision of deliberative democracy:

State PIRGs' Americans Against Political Corruption
(sponsored by state PIRGs - Public Interest Research Groups)

The Voter Bill of Rights
(sponsored by Progressive Challenge, Institute for Policy Studies
and The Nation magazine)

Reclaim Democracy

The Center for Voting and Democracy




Each of us can support each of these programs and proposals individually. But the most powerful impact will come when we get politicians and public interest groups to support these programs and proposals AS A MAJOR ASPECT OF THEIR POLITICAL WORK.

Truly good candidates seldom survive for long in our political system. That there are some, but only a few, proves that rule. And our most vital issues do not get adequate, sustained attention to produce anything like steady progress towards a better world, a just society, a sustainable economy, and a dependably decent quality of life for all.

Electing the candidates and winning the issue-battles is the smallest part of what needs doing. The largest part is creating political systems that can support and sustain candidates who serve the general welfare -- and that can address the important issues of our day with persistent intelligence and wisdom. If only we can create those systems, the elections and issues will be so much easier to deal with in the future, with such better outcomes.

Once we learn that, we'll have made a breakthrough.

I've given my views on how to do that. I've also provided you with five other attempts to address this situation.

What's important is not which of these approaches we choose. What's important is that we wake up together to the vital necessity of moving in this direction. Then we can find out which paths make the most sense to each of us -- and groups of us -- and be on our way.

Heaven knows, there's quite a journey ahead. Let's make the most of it.


-- Tom Atlee