These opinions are my own, and I am committed to Democ as a non-partisan platform.
Over the years a number of people have advanced the concept of a universal “voting app”. They share my conviction that in the future, in some form, people in free societies will have access to a technology for anonymous voting. It’s not a particularly new idea– in a lot of ways it’s a logical outgrowth of the communication tools we already have:
- Twitter is for sharing your thoughts publicly
- Facebook is for sharing your thoughts privately
- Democ is for sharing your thoughts anonymously
- Blogs are for sharing your thoughts in long form
- Social media is for sharing your thoughts in short sentences
- Democ is for sharing your thoughts in binary (yes/no) or similar
We are at a convergence of technology that makes such a platform possible- we have just enough technology to enforce “one vote per person” and “only people who should have voting rights in a given group” (to an imperfect but good enough degree) without the kind of friction (DNA samples, iris scans) that would block critical mass adoption. Buy why does the world need this right now?
We are nearing the collapse of the western “capitalism + democracy” model that has maintained supremacy for hundreds of years. That model is built on a very basic balance between the two systems.
In the United States, every person who is born is told, “look around you, all of this is owned by somebody else, you just got here so you have nothing (if you’re lucky, your family will give you a little something)– all you get is a vote”. With that vote, a person is supposed to be able to extract a little value out of the system, a little table-stakes to set themselves up in society. Public school, shelter, food, healthcare during childhood. That’s how it was, that’s how it’s supposed to be. But increasingly that’s not how it is anymore.
Capitalism is eating democracy, and the balance has tipped.
Voting is, by design, done in library basements, at the most inopportune times. Gerrymandering and disenfranchisement by voter suppression has made it a farce. Candidates are heavily vetted by a corrupt process. Rather than dole out a little table-stakes to provide some semblance of equitability, incredible amounts of money are thrown at distorting not just the process, but the actual reality around voters. Everyone knows it.
But it’s not just that– people used to be able to employ a little leverage at work, through their right as a person in a free society to organize. Unions held together another balance, between workers and capital, as our society industrialized. When WWII hit, it was an existential threat to everybody. The property owners couldn’t defend their property alone– they needed every able-bodied man and woman to fight, and why fight for someone else’s property when you have nothing? This very same situation caused many of the revolutions of the pre-industrial era, and the memory of that existential threat kept the balance for a generation or two– one of the most prosperous periods in American history.
Today that’s all broken. Democracy is no longer providing the necessary counterbalance to capitalism. The existential threats to capital and bargains struck with workers have been forgotten. In fact, a lot of people don’t believe we technically live in an democracy anymore. Some people say that our system can’t move fast enough to compete with authoritarian governments in China and Russia.
Technology has had a big role in the situation we find ourselves in now. As we enter what may be the final hour of capitalism, as doors close one-by-one on the poor and working class, technology is vacuuming wealth upwards in a race for the finish. We have communication tools ad nausea, but none have been particularly effective in redistributing power and wealth from capital to workers or from governors to the governed.
Democ is a platform for communication that combines anonymity and voting. It’s not a tool for unionization, but it does enable organization among workers of an individual company. It’s not a tool for governance, but it does enable people to organize within real life groups– geographic groups like cities and optional groups like political parties. If we achieve our goals, Democ will give more power and leverage to workers, students, and citizens. It will also be fun and a little bit rebellious.
Technology companies all love to talk about democratization. Democratizing artificial intelligence, storage, genome informatics… but today what needs democratizing most is our “democracy” itself.