2012: How U.S. Voters Can Wrest Control of Congress from Special Interests — Part V. How Voting Blocs Can Expand Their Electoral Bases by Increasing Their Membership and Building Electoral Coalitions with Existing Parties, New Parties, Labor Unions and Other Membership-Based Groups
[Author's note: This series has been re-posted by Joe Firestone (a.k.a. letsgetitdone) on behalf of author Nancy Bordier with her express permission.]
By Nancy Bordier
See the series introduction here.
Voting blocs can attain the electoral strength they need to win Congressional elections even when their candidates face strong opponents with seductive messaging machines that are well-financed by special interests. They can do so by conducting sustained, systematic campaigns to increase the membership of their blocs and form electoral coalitions.
Both strategies are built around the Interactive Voter Choice System’s consensus-building tools, including the Voting Utility. These tools enable voters to continue negotiating and even voting on which priorities they wish to include in common agendas, until they can identify the combinations of priorities that attract the number of votes required to beat their candidates’ opponents. This process also enables them to build electoral bases that outflank and outmaneuver those of stand-alone, special interest-controlled parties and voting blocs, whose members are constrained to accept fixed, narrow-gauge, special interest agendas.
Significantly, as voters scrutinize their policy options and alternative combinations of options, they will simultaneously solve the contrived conflicts over legislative initiatives that political partisans and special interests have created to inflame voters’ passions and prejudices, divide the electorate into hostile camps, and create the appearance of stalemate in Congress that both parties’ representatives use to camouflage their obedience to special interest agendas.
To increase their membership, voting blocs can:
1. Invite newly registered website members who live in their Congressional districts to join their bloc, by continuously querying the Policy Priorities Database to locate and contact new voters in their electoral districts who have recently submitted policy agendas with policy priorities that are statistically similar to those of the voting bloc.
2. Invite like-minded friends, family, neighbors and co-workers in their districts to set their policy agendas using the Policy Options Database and submit them to the Policy Priorities Database. These voters can then query the database to see whether their agendas comprise a sufficient number of shared priorities with those of voting bloc members to motivate them to join the voting bloc.
3. Recruit new non-website members by advertising their voting blocs, agendas and action plans in venues outside of the website. They can invite prospective members living in their Congressional district to set their policy agendas using the Policy Options Database. After submitting their priorities to the Policy Priorities Database, the prospective members can then query the database to compare their agendas with the blocs’ agendas. If they find that they share a sufficient number of shared priorities with bloc members, they can opt to join the blocs.
4. Contact membership-based affinity groups, e.g. environmental groups, and invite members living in their Congressional district to set their policy agendas using the Policy Options Database, submit them to the Policy Priorities Database, and then query the database to see whether their agendas share a sufficient number of priorities with voting bloc members to motivate them to join the bloc.
5. Query the Policy Priorities Database to identify and contact website members with statistically dissimilar agendas who, nevertheless, share enough policy priorities with voting bloc members to motivate them to join the blocs, in exchange for the addition or deletion of particular options.
Voting blocs can also expand their electoral bases by creating electoral coalitions. For example, they can:
1. Search the website’s list of existing voting blocs to identify prospective coalition partners with members who live in their Congressional district. They can contact the blocs with priorities similar to their own. If these blocs are willing, the two blocs can open negotiations to create shared agendas using the Policy Options Database and the Policy Priorities Database. If a consensus emerges, they can proceed to see if they can select common slates of candidates and join forces to pool their resources to get out the vote to elect them.
2. Contact external voter mobilization groups with similar agendas who are operating in their Congressional district. If these groups are interested, they can open negotiations to create shared agendas. If a consensus emerges, they can proceed to see if they can select common slates of candidates and agree to pool resources to get out the vote.
3. Contact labor unions with state and local chapters in their Congressional district. If they are willing, the two sides can open negotiations to create shared agendas using the Policy Options Database and the Policy Priorities Database. If a consensus emerges, they can proceed to see if they can select common slates of candidates. If so, they can join forces and pool resources to get out the vote to elect their candidates.
4. Contact local political parties to see whether they are interested in forming a coalition. If so, the voting bloc can invite party officials and interested party members to set their policy agendas using the Policy Options Database and submit their priorities to the Policy Priorities Database for tallying under the party’s name. The members of the voting bloc and the party can compare their respective agendas to see whether there are a sufficient number of shared priorities to form the basis of a coalition.
If so, they can proceed to a vote using the website’s Voting Utility, so their members can collectively decide which priorities their members wish to place in a common agenda, and what slate of candidates they wish to run. If a consensus emerges, according to whatever procedures and rules they decide to adopt, their coalition can pool their resources to mobilize their members to go to the polls to vote for the slate of candidates they jointly agree to endorse.
Strategically and tactically, voting blocs will have to decide whether they will be more effective in getting their candidates elected by working within existing political parties, and even by getting organizational control of them, than by diverting their resources to the arduous task of collecting the signatures each state requires to start new parties. The new party route will leave the Democratic and Republican parties intact, and permit them to continue to use their unfair advantages in gerrymandered districts and special interest fund-raising to run and elect party-backed, special interest-funded candidates to office.
This strategy of working within existing parties prevents the fragmentation into losing splinter groups of the majority of U.S. voters whom polls show want to see most Democratic and Republican candidates replaced. However, it should be kept in mind that regardless of whether they work inside or outside an established party, the application’s consensus-building tools enable broad-cross sections of voters to build voting blocs and electoral coalitions that have the voting strength to win elections.
The splintering into a whole raft of small political parties of the majority of U.S. voters who want to oust the nation’s Congressional lawmakers is not a formula for success in running winning candidates against the candidates of the Democratic and Republican parties, particularly at the presidential level. In the long run, agile and malleable voting blocs using the IVCS application will become more important than political parties. They, not political parties, will become the driving force in elections and legislation, especially since these blocs can easily gain organizational control of established parties once they start winning elections on party lines, and register enough bloc members in the party to elect their members to a majority of official party positions.
The fact of the matter is that IVCS-enabled voting blocs can perform all the functions of a political party, without actually having to form a party, especially since they can run their candidates on existing party lines on the ballot by collecting the number of signatures required by the state to get them on party lines. In addition, blocs have unique mechanisms that parties do not have for building ever larger transpartisan electoral bases by increasing their membership and forming electoral coalitions.
By running their candidates on existing party lines and building winning electoral coalitions that have the voting strength needed to beat party candidates in primaries, they can avoid the time consuming efforts involved in collecting the signatures needed to create new political parties from scratch. Also, once they start electing their candidates to Congress carrying the banner of the two major parties, they will have access to the pivotal leadership and committee positions that are traditionally divided up between the major parties, positions that have the authority to decide which policies will, and will not, move through the legislative process and be enacted into law.
Representatives who owe their election to the voting blocs and truly represent the best interests of the American people will be free to revoke anti-majoritarian rules and practices like the Senate’s filibuster and secret holds, which have permitted a minority of elected representatives representing a minority of the American people to decide which bills will and will not be enacted into law.
5.Build new parties. Working within existing parties at the outset of their formation does not prevent voting blocs from eventually establishing national federations of local blocs that become de facto parties and even official third parties, in all 50 states, similar to what Ross Perot attempted to do back in the 90′s. Since IVCS-enabled voting blocs will be able to develop electoral bases that have members in all 50 states, these blocs can easily use IVCS consensus-building and agenda-setting tools to bring together broad cross-sections of voters around shared policy agendas under a minimal number of party umbrellas.
Voting blocs already operating at the state level will be well-equipped to proceed on this front, since they will have enough members to gather the number of signatures required by state election laws to establish a political party. They will also be familiar with the legal ropes, having worked with state election authorities within state legal guidelines for running candidates on the ballots of existing parties.
Since the members of IVCS-enabled parties will have set their common agendas using the application’s consensus-building and agenda setting tools, and can update their agenda at any time by using the Voting Utility, the parties will not be plagued by the internecine conflicts over their platforms that typically plague political parties because they can resolve divergent views by holding on-line votes to determine the preferences of the majority.
Blocs can also use the application to screen prospective party candidates by comparing the party’s platform with candidates’ platforms. By using its various tools and analyzing past election results and current polls, they can also determine how they might wish to customize their agendas to enhance the electoral prospects of their candidates in particular states and counties.
Unlike the present situation where candidates of both major parties espouse policy options that fall well outside the confines of the preferences of rank-and-file party members, IVCS-enabled third parties and their state-based supporters who use the application’s agenda-setting tools can prevent candidates from running on their lines, in the event that they espouse policies that are clearly inimical to those of the party.
The important point to keep in mind is that the overarching goal of the application is to enable the U.S. electorate to fundamentally alter the U.S. political party system, not simply start new parties. The objective is to fundamentally alter the nation’s electoral and legislative processes, not merely to elect new representatives.
The end-goal of the application is to empower voters to run the government, not political parties, compromised politicians, special interests that fund their campaigns, or lobbyists whom special interests fund to sit at the table with lawmakers and dictate the legislation they pass. Whether voting blocs opt to get control of the Democratic and Republican parties or create new parties is merely a means to this end.
IVCS-enabled voting blocs will become more powerful than parties because they will be able to build broad-based electoral coalitions around transpartisan agendas that can outflank and outmaneuver them. These voting blocs will be able to dominate the American political landscape because they can engage the entire U.S. electorate in setting their agendas and deciding who will be elected to enact them into law.
It will be the members of the voting blocs who will shape public opinion, not political parties or politicians. Since voters will be running the government and sharing their political views with each other at the speed of light over the Internet, their influence will dwarf that of the political pundits, political parties, politicians and special interests that have limited the parameters of public debate for decades in order to promote and protect their private interests. Due to voting blocs’ size, ubiquity and capacity to continuously build consensus among voters across the political spectrum, they will dwarf the influence parties, politicians, and pundits, in deciding which candidates run in primary and general elections and win. Voting blocs will possess a nimbleness, flexibility and fluidity that enables them to continuously reshape and resize themselves in response to voters’ changing policy priorities, and create whatever electoral coalitions they need to run and elect bloc candidates to office at any level of government and in whatever states they choose.
Voting blocs of any size can join forces and recombine into larger blocs within states and, eventually, across any and all 50 states, virtually overnight. All they have to do to launch these expanding blocs is to take advantage of the Policy Options Database, the Policy Priorities Database and the Voting Utility to determine what policy priorities are preferred by how many voters. At every turn, they will be able to use the facilities of the IVCS application, to build consensus among ever larger numbers of voters and gauge whether they have an appropriate mix of policy priorities to obtain the voting strength they need to elect their candidates in upcoming Congressional elections. Any shortfalls can be overcome by forming electoral coalitions with other voting blocs, voter mobilization groups, unions and political parties around shared policy agendas. What matters most is that it will be U.S. voters at the grassroots who possess the exclusive power to run elections and decide who will represent them in government, and what policies their representatives will be instructed to enact in their name.
Voters can elect a majority of untainted Congressional representatives in 2012 if public-spirited citizens, political activists and web technologists join forces to weave together breakthrough democracy-building technologies like the Interactive Voter Choice System into user-friendly seamless applications.
Web technologies like IVCS give U.S. voters the keys they need to break the lock-hold that the nation’s two major political parties and special interests have attained over the U.S. Congress. These technologies empower voters across the political spectrum to join forces to get control of Congress without changing any of the laws the parties and special interests have passed to prevent voters from ousting special interest-backed representatives in Congress and electing their own.
As described above, voters can use these technologies to build transpartisan voting blocs that work within existing parties or in new parties. They can build broad-based electoral coalitions with other blocs, labor unions, existing political parties and new parties that can elect a majority of representatives to Congress in 2012 who are untainted by special interest money and influence.
All that is needed to bring these possibilities to fruition are concerted efforts to integrate technologies like those used in the IVCS platform, and make them available to the U.S. electorate by mid-2011. We invite anyone who is interested in participating in such efforts is invited to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Kindly indicate what you can do to help and how you would like to participate.