It’s up to you!
There is an old cliche that says: "money is the mother’s milk of politics." It’s true! Special interests contribute millions to political campaigns in order to influence the public agenda that affects their interests. Just pay attention to the media to appreciate how rampant and brazen this corrupting process has become. President Bush is raising millions of dollars from those who are getting his tax cuts. Millions are raised daily for no other purpose than to subvert the public agenda to private gain.
The National Initiative, when enacted, will outlaw special interests’ monies in initiative elections, nationally and locally, and will set in motion a chain reaction that when the people have legislative power, they will outlaw all political donations not from natural persons. Since only human beings can vote; then only human beings should be able to donate.
Thus far the Democracy Foundation, the National Initiative sponsor, has operated out of our homes as a virtual organization without professional business offices. We need the resources to go prime-time so to speak. Now that the electoral process is in place, it’s up to the people. The challenge: will the people vote and fund their own empowerment by enacting and funding the National Initiative?
We have instituted the Sustaining Democracy Program, using the Internet for convenience, in hopes that people will make modest recurring donations on a monthly basis. We will need upwards of 50 million voters to enact the National Initiative. If you and every voter donated just $1 per month we will quickly ramp up to a cash flow sufficient to enact the National Initiative in one to two years. Giving $1 per month may seem trivial. It’s not to us. Many prefer to give on average $5 per month. We have one donor at $1000 per month. It’s a matter of conscience; if you wish to be empowered please donate what you can afford.
To bring about reform and your empowerment as lawmakers requires the enactment of the National Initiative. The cost of informing American voters about the National Initiative and the cost of the election giving them the opportunity to vote is not funded by government. Obviously, those elites who control many of the institutions of society will not help and worse will fight its enactment. Therefore, if We, the People, truly wish to be brought into the operations of government as lawmakers, we must share the cost, otherwise the National Initiative will never be enacted into law.
We are just beginning the Philadelphia II national election on the Internet. Later, with funding, people will be able to vote by telephone and by mail. Mainline media will not give the National Initiative a great deal of coverage, so spreading the news about voting on the Internet by word of mouth is essential to get us going. At some point the possibility of empowering the people will hit home –– critical mass –– and the National Initiative will become the most politically explosive issue since the founding of our nation. Your commitment to persuade others to vote and to fund with modest donations their own empowerment will make the National Initiative a reality.
With a bit of open source software, we created our voting site at votep2.us. It runs on Free BSD and Apache, the site was written in PHP and all the data is stored in MySQL.
Several people have asked us questions about the technical aspects of the voting site. For example, are the votes secure? The votes and registration information are kept in separate databases. The databases are behind firewalls on a system which we feel is secure. The databases are backed up and will soon be replicated to a second server. The system is roughly as secure as any system that you would use to purchase goods and services over the internet .
We also hear concerns about your vote being private. Your vote is private. There is a strict division between the voting site and the Democracy Foundation’s site: ni4d.us . They are on entirely different servers at different locations. The voting site is run by The Network Guild (networkguild.org), a company which manages internet services for small and medium sized companies. Individuals at Network Guild are bound by non-disclosure agreements not to disclose any individual’s vote to anyone, including Philadelphia II or the Democracy Foundation. Like your credit card number, your vote is not given to anybody, only you know how you voted. When you vote, your connections is encrypted. This permits you to check how you voted and to change your vote is you wish.
When the election reaches critical mass, we anticipate thousands of people voting each minute. As the voting ramps up, we will be moving to a more distributed architecture with multiple servers in geographically disperse locations. The current server is in Dayton Ohio. We are implementing our second server in Boston.
This internet voting system is designed to get the National Initiative passed. Once the Initiative is passed, a secure online voting system will be designed and developed under the direction of the Electoral Trust to allow people to vote on separate initiatives in every government jurisdiction of the United States.
When the election is over and everyone has been identified and verified as registered and all the illegitimate votes have been removed from the data, the final count will be announced and the government will be informed that the National Initiative is the law of the land. The databases developed during the course of the National Initiative election conducted by Philadelphia II on behalf of the American people will be turned over to the Electoral Trust.
It is our hope that you will find the voting site a smooth experience. We have tried to simplify the process, for example, you may vote as soon as you register. Remember, every registered voter will be manually verified, so voting twice won’t actually do any good.
You can also go back and change your vote at any time. Furthermore, if you log into the site, you have the option (in the upper right of the page) to update your registration data should it change.
If you have any problems voting, please don’t hesitate to contact email@example.com.
Michael Grant, NetworkGuild.org
On January 2, 2003 David Parrish passed away. It ended a five year battle with cancer–knowledge of which Dave held in his family circle. Though his death came when he was just shy of age 60, his life packed an intense participation and a spectrum of contribution expressive of a full measure of years. As recently as December 27, 2002, I had email exchanges in which Dave provided counsel on National Initiative matters.
He was born in New York City April 17, 1943. After graduating with a B.S. Degree in physics from Johns Hopkins University, he added master degrees in mental health counseling, history, and education. Dave moved to Maryland within working range of the Washington D. C. area where he became professionally engaged during most of his adult years as a management consultant for various private firms and a computer specialist for the Social Security Administration.
Jackie, his wife, feels that "his real love and interest" during those years "was in counseling. He helped a number of people deal with very difficult marital and parenting problems."
While he worked for the Government, he was presented with several prestigious awards and commendations from the Government for his innovative work and leadership. In 1994, Dave retired from the government career and moved with Jackie to Oregon. There he became quite involved in local politics serving on a number of county planning and budgetary committees and being elected to the local town council in 1997.
Additionally, he took the initiative to teach several informal courses on computers, mediation, and effective communication. At the same time he gave expression to his desire to support the advance of direct democracy in politics. He, in fact, created his own direct democracy website–entirely unaware of Mike Gravel’s National Initiative For Democracy project.
It was in the Fall of 2000, at the critical transition point of the National Initiative’s development of a website that David heard of ‘our’ direct democracy project and connected with Mike Gravel in Arlington, VA. Dave’s vision and dedication to the advance of Direct Democracy coupled with his remarkable computer expertise met with Mike’s dream, idea and project. A friendship and collaboration developed between Dave and Mike quickly and in depth. The website National Initiative enjoys today (www.ni4d.us) was effectively launched as a result of Dave becoming Mike’s IT collaborator friend. Less than six months later, Dave accepted the invitation to become a board member enabling Dave to expand his contributions to the National Initiative project still further
Jackie offers this insider view of how Dave, Mike and the National Initiative project meshed. "He loved working with Mike. I would often hear them arguing, shouting, laughing, negotiating, and so on. They had a very intense, very special relationship…. Working on D. D. those last years was so important to David. He believed in the goals and was energized by the work and the interactions…." And so with us reciprocally. "Dave, the indispensable friend" succinctly expresses what Dave had become to us in the NI4D project.
Dave did not wish concern about his illness to be a distraction from our focus on the advance of the National Initiative. To this end he kept his battle with cancer within the family circle. At the Democracy Symposium. held in Williamsburg, VA in February 2002, Dave facilitated his son, Ben, being participant which initiated the latter’s role as a NI4D collaborator and IT resort to carry on when Dave’s course would come to a close. Dave’s dedication lives on still further. His step-son, Mike Grant–no less an IT support has associated himself with Mike in handling the technology of the National Initiative internet election and expanding the National Initiative website.
Thank you, David, for putting the stamp of your personality in the way you so inimitably have on the advance of National Initiative For Democracy and all of us in this project
Part I Overview
The dramatic and unprecedented election to enact the National Initiative for Democracy will not only give birth to a truer democracy in the United States but it will also set the standard for making elections in every jurisdiction truly democratic. Though there is no national template for such a campaign, as its form evolves, it may very well be the impetus to eliminate the graffiti of democracy i.e., ending the need for convention delegates to select party nominees for national office, removing state legislatures from involvement in passing constitutional amendments and abolishing the electoral college through whom the American people must filter their own vote in order for an election to be valid. Even more far reaching will be the new emphasis on Article VII to pass Constitutional amendments and the technical and political modernization and democratization of national elections in making them truly national.
How will this done? First, the election for NI4D is truly national, that is the United States and its territories plus Americans abroad form one jurisdiction, Second, its centerpiece, though not the only piece, is the Internet. In a few short minutes on the computer, an individual can register, vote, respond to an exit poll and make a contribution while educating himself to his or hers complete satisfaction by accessing the various layman and scholarly materials at our web site (www.ni4d.us). And lastly, it is not encumbered by any obligation, affiliation or dependency with any government jurisdiction. It is an election that is as democratically direct as the proposal that is being offered for the American people’s vote.
Traditional models for national campaigns has always included the need for fully staffed efforts in every state. Now, however, the campaign calling for the enactment of the National Initiative presents a new model that eliminates the need for paid statewide field organizations and offices and a large headquarters staff. Yet tying into the states via other techniques, strategies and tactics, discussed in later pieces, will provide the National Initiative with local television exposure and, in states with an initiative process, people and organizations who can provide substantial on the ground support. With the Internet as the centerpiece of a multi-platform electronic election apparatus (that will ultimately include the telephone, kiosks etc.) supplemented by more traditional balloting where computers are unavailable, the enactment of the National Initiative will establish a landmark technical and political precedent. More to the point, we will have the capacity to secure votes from everywhere and anywhere including movie theaters, malls, computer stores, our own boutiques and mobile units, supermarkets, and so on.
Finally, since the National Initiative includes an amendment to the Constitution, its election could, if necessary, span several years without any restrictions as to when and where an individual can vote. And because we are non-partisan, our universe is the entire voting population of the United States including those who will become eligible to vote in the next few years. This will allow us to seek support from throughout the political spectrum as well as look ahead and educate the present generation of high students whose eligibility is now a few years away.
In upcoming articles in this space we will elaborate in detail on the new election template with pieces and discussions on "Public Behavior on the Internet", E-Voting in Great Britain and Switzerland", "The Boiler Room", "Securing Local Free Media", "TV and Internet Advertising", "Outreach in the Field: Guerrilla Campaigning", "The Opposition" , "The High School Population", "Our ‘Blair Witch’ Marketing Campaign" etc. We encourage you to send us your comments and ideas. Please e-mail them to the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.