The Solution: Inclusive Democracy

“The very essence of democracy is that it reflects people power and not simply the constitutional choice of enlightened elites”

Diamond, Larry. The Spirit of Democracy . Henry Holt and Co. Kindle Edition.  Appendix – “The Spirit of Democracy”.

Democracy is a form of government in which the people have the right to choose their governing legislation.  Evidence suggests democracy is threatened by political party elites who impose legislation while ignoring the right of the people to choose.  Even in nations that are the leading examples of democracy, despots are witnessed attempting to install dictatorial styles of leadership regardless of the views of most of the voting public.

Inclusive Democracy is fully representative democracy inclusive of all individuals and regions in a country.  In a unicameral system independent elected representatives will each communicate their constituents’ needs and aspirations to a national assembly – people-up governance – where matters related to national interests and policy initiatives will be prioritized and acted upon.

Democratic Individualism – Being an individual is a great ideal embraced by people and groups – self-sufficient, self-made, complete individuality, self-promotion, ad infinitum.  But, in our reality, that includes political party elitism, the individuals are not participating in governance, or being offered the opportunity to be a participant in a shared destiny of all citizens of a nation.

In a democracy, when selfishness establishes boundaries that leave “those others” behind in the cold, or embracing individuality creates unequal islands of opportunity, the light emanating from the ideal of equal individual opportunism does not shine so brightly.  

Tocqueville wrote, “Aristocracy links everybody, from peasant to king, in one long chain.  Democracy breaks the chain and frees each link”.*  It frees the individual to do her/his “own thing”. However, in a true democracy, … “The solution for Individualism is not religion or human fellowship or central planning – it’s self-government, which allows us to work through free institutions for common purpose … a way forward that tries to make us equal citizens, free to shape our shared destiny, … a road that connects our past to our future”.  *Last Best Hope: America in Crisis and Renewal by George Packer.  Farrar, Straus and Giroux 120 Broadway, New York 10271 Copyright © 2021 by George Packer.  All rights reserved First edition, 2021.

Democratic individualism is a critically important feature of a democracy inclusive of all individuals. The expectation is that all citizens will embrace the common good, respect the rule of law, and recognize the need to move forward with a shared purpose that includes the well-being of the nation, and otherwise continue to express their individuality. Context is important. – ” Thoreau’s stance is a democratic individualism not only in the sense that democracy enables individual vital pursuits but in the sense that conscientious, reflective individuals nourish the democratic polis: ‘Deliberate lives of self-examination nourish democracy by their individuality and superabundance of energy’ ” 

Sauntering in America, THOREAU’S “DEMOCRATIC INDIVIDUALISM – January 19, 2017.

Generic Inclusive Democracy Model

Following is a description of a governmental institutional set-up that could be employed in an inclusive democracy setting. Other models may better suit a situation, but, the basic requirements include no political parties (or other affiliation based entities), an elected independent member of the assembly from each constituency, and voting on all policy matters being restricted to assembly members. 

Voters >> National Assembly >> Ministerial Council >> Advisory Commission

A. Voters – Each constituency elects an independent representative who must reside in the constituency.  Candidates and representatives may not raise electoral funds from outside the constituency.  An election occurs every four years on a fixed day.

BNational assembly – The assembly, largely based on constituency input, creates new policy.  With benefit of critical reviews by the ministerial and advisory councils, the assembly debates, votes on, and prioritizes all policy matters.  It elects the ministerial council from within its membership.  It also elects an internal regionally representative oversight and administrative council.  The “majority” vote of the culturally and/or geographically diverse constituency representatives will ensure new policy is approved by the assembly, in full consideration of the general needs of all people and regions of the nation.

C. Ministerial Council – The National Minister and Deputy National Minister are the representatives who received the most votes from the assembly.  The ministerial council will select the cabinet.  The cabinet must include a minimum of 60% assembly members; independent ministers may otherwise be appointed to the cabinet.  The cabinet portfolio does not change with each election.  The Public Service, and its projects, can remain focussed and productive through each election.  An Armed Forces Council will be appointed by the ministerial council following each election.

D. Advisory Commission (A.C.) – An appointed body that critically reviews and comments on proposed legislation.  It must be regionally representative.  A commission member will be appointed to a permanent ministerial council position following each election.

 Absent political parties, the assembly will prioritize policy initiatives and generate policies that are inclusive of the entire population.  Inclusive democracy will embrace, support, and defend the ideals of the nation.

The Common Good

… consists of our shared values about what we owe one another as citizens who are bound together in the same society—the norms we voluntarily abide by, and the ideals we seek to achieve.  A concern for the common good—keeping the common good in mind—is a moral attitude.  It recognizes that we’re all in it together.  If there is no common good, there is no society.  … is a set of [voluntarily] shared commitments—to the rule of law, and to the spirit as well as the letter of the law; to our democratic institutions of government; to truth; to tolerance of our differences; to equal political rights and equal opportunity; to participating in our civic life and making necessary sacrifices for the ideals we hold in common.  We must share these commitments if we are to have a functioning society.  They inform our judgments about right and wrong because they constitute our common good. Without them, there is no we.”  

 Reich, Robert B.  – The Common Good. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.  Kindle Edition.

Inclusivity 

Probably commencing during the Vietnamese war disaster, and in accelerating fashion since, the excluded populace has made its unhappiness known. They are willing to demonstrate and protest openly in an attempt to get the attention of the governing forces on many fronts. Unfortunately, the desire to be listened to, does not have a cohesive listening platform. The exclusive needs of political parties, politicians, individuals, groups of individuals, etc. fall somewhat separately into the exclusive camps of the political party elites, which lack the fortitude to do the right thing lest they upset some of their current supporters – a bête noir of exclusive democracy.

Democracy “…at its fundament it is the idea of giving all citizens the chance to participate equally in economic, social, political, and cultural life” 

6 Degrees – RBC Report.

Photo by Mikael Blomkvist on Pexels.com

In a setting where inclusive democracy prevails, the needs and desires of the public are presented to government by the independent elected representative, who in the Assembly prioritize and act on those expressed needs. The assembly provides a coherent platform where ideas can coalesce and be turned into inclusive policy.

“… for democratic structures to endure … they must listen to their citizens’ voices, engage their participation, tolerate their protests, protect their freedoms, and respond to their needs”.  

Diamond, Larry. The Spirit of Democracy. New York: Henry Holt and Company, LLC.

Solution Summary

In the relatively recent past voters could rely on the two-dimensional left-right spectrum to guide them. But today, in this late-coming period of diversity and inclusiveness, the spectrum is no longer useful as a guide. Polarization resulting from the spectrum guide leaves the people unhappy, confused and finding it difficult to identify what they really want. Evolved democracy, a non-political-party unicameral democracy, will afford the voters the opportunity to express themselves directly, through their elected representative, to an unshackled assembly with the expectation that the government will address their aspirations and act upon them. There will be no filtering by a political party that would be more concerned with re-election than the needs of the populace.

Centuries have passed while the political elites have controlled democracy exclusively. Now is the time to change the model by evolving to and adopting Inclusive Democracy. Inclusive Democracy will be positioned and designed to continue to evolve as the world goes through this period of severe disruption and into the future. 

“I have emphasized that democracy cannot be expected to function satisfactorily unless the vast majority of the people in all classes are resolved to abide by the rules of the democratic game and that this in turn implies that they are substantially agreed on the fundamentals of their institutional structure.”

Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy (1942) – Joseph A. Schumpeter, HarperCollins Publishers – Third Edition (2008)

Inclusive Democracy – conclusion

From the presumed introduction to the world of democracy in Greece 2600 years ago, the Era of Exclusive Democracy has prevailed.  While democracy in practice has evolved and broadened in scope as the needs of people have also evolved, it has remained exclusive.  During the 800-year Magna Carta period, the breadth of inclusivity has increased and, for example, today most democracies have introduced aspects of “human rights” to the mix. However, the policies introduced are not necessarily inclusive and often do not address the expressed needs pf the populace.

Advances in communication capability and the advent of social media have afforded the voting public better understanding of what the government is and isn’t doing.  As well the people are now able to digest and respond in near real time to express their displeasure, and to emphatically make their needs and aspirations known.  The effectiveness of Exclusive Democracy as a governing model is evidently in decline.  Debilitating polarization, and exclusive practices, have often generated an environment that governments have difficulty managing; and sometimes paralyzes the governing process completely.

Until recently Governments have been able to get away with political party elites focussing on the next election rather than governing.  The resulting national inequity chasm has grown and become prominently visible.  Predictably, the voters are not enjoying this experience and are increasingly unwilling to get in lockstep with the powers that be; unfortunately, often protesting by not voting.  Most often the protesters are concerned about their needs not being addressed; they are being excluded and an overriding need to be included is being communicated loudly.  The political elites have generally exhibited little interest in closing the gap. It is obvious that democracy must evolve to the Inclusive Democracy era. Somewhat ironically, Inclusive Democracy is in synch with the people-up model described as classic democracy.

Inclusive Democracy puts the power of constituents in the hands of their elected representative who will carry the power to the assembly to be included in policy formation deliberations. Resulting policy proposals will be forwarded to the Advisory Commission for review and a report generated by the Advisory Commission will be returned to assembly to inform the pending debate. The proposed policy will then be voted on and passed into law, or not.  There will be no political party elites “running the show”.  During their deliberations and voting, the elected representatives will be aware they are equally responsible to their constituency and their country.  

The evolution to a unicameral Inclusive democracy will be disruptive evolution. Do not out of hand dismiss the significance of the proposed change of democratic models.  Evolution from one era to a new era can be very disruptive. Witness the French Revolution – no guillotines please – or the apparently “meteoric” demise of the dinosaurs.  We can either choose Inclusive Democracy or leave it to the elites to choose for us.  For more than two Millenia the choice was not inclusivity. Evolve to Inclusive Democracy – NOW