I’m on board, or at least intrigued, by this whole liquid democracy idea. How do we get there from here?
There are three paths to liquid democracy: pressuring elected officials to embrace it, electing new ones who will or establishing liquid systems through the ballot box. The first two paths do not initially require legislation as elected officials can commit to voting based on the outcome of a liquid process on an outside platform. Achieving liquid democracy throughout the US will likely involve a combination of all three.
The question becomes which strategy to pursue first and where. Which strategy will most quickly attract attention so people can learn about liquid democracy, convince them to trust and engage with the platform and provide a clear path to success without endangering their other issue priorities?
Target Local Elected Officials: Using an outside platform like liquid.vote, we can encourage local officials to commit to voting based on the outcome of the votes on that platform. If they don’t, we can select a district particularly supportive of liquid democracy and run a candidate who makes that commitment against them.
This strategy may be the most likely to produce an early “win” in the form of getting an elected official who uses liquid democracy to make decisions. People will have an opportunity to vote and test a system that has real-world, if limited, application. However, it will likely be more difficult to get enough elected officials to sign on to control a board or council, which may be needed to get significant engagement from the voters at large. Furthermore, such wins may not attract as much attention as the other strategies options available.
Liquid for Congress: Run a candidate in every single Congressional district who promises to abide by the results of a liquid platform for vote they cast. This would give every single citizen the opportunity to vote for liquid democracy. Simultaneously, this would introduce the concept of liquid democracy to millions of voters who will be hearing the term for the first time.
Winning a Congressional seat with a liquid candidate would send a shockwave through American politics. People would be able to watch the experiment of liquid democracy happen in real time and demand it for themselves. Even if we don’t win, the exposure would mean that millions more Americans know about liquid democracy and are more likely to embrace our next project.
This can be done as early as the 2018 elections. David Ernst, an advocate of Liquid for Congress and the creator of liquid.vote, which already makes it possible to vote on SF legislation using a proxy system, hopes to release a Congressional version by November. All we need is a strategy for identifying candidates and supporting them through the primaries or general.
Limited Ballot Measure: Choose a city or a state that has faced particular governmental dysfunction recently and run a ballot measure that transfers some legislative decision-making abilities to the people through a liquid system. This will enable voters to test out the system with immediate real-world consequences without turning everything over to it.
Instead of replacing representative for all government decisions, voters would only be able to make decisions on law governing the behavior of elected officials and candidates. For example, how campaigns are run, the process a bill follows to become a law, compensation and ethics rules and transparency rules could all be decided under this system.
Liquid Party: Form a political party whose candidates are all pledged to a specific liquid democracy platform based on votes cast by the members of that party. Argentina and Australia both have such parties and the Flux Party has formed in the United States. However, given the realities of our two-party system, a third party in the US will have significantly more difficulty getting off the ground.