Democracy, Straight-Up!

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The CRCL Initiative

Direct Democracy is Not Only Doable, It’s Better

The CRCL Initiative is the flagship program of The Democracy, Straight-Up! Project (DSUp). It provides American voters with the means to construct a legislature in their congressional district, open to all their voters, with the internal structure needed to vote directly on legislation, and to eventually become an independent, self-sustaining body. The Initiative targets all 435 US congressional districts that elect members to the US House of Representatives.

The project is not bi-partisan. It is not non-partisan. It is all-partisan all the time! That is, bring all your beliefs with you–political and otherwise–and express them as strongly as you like. We are not trying to promote compromise or consensus. We are not trying to get American voters to join hands and sing Kum Ba Yah. We are saying that direct legislation is a right and we are providing a way for all American voters to exercise that right. We don’t have a hippie-dippie philosophy that goes along with that.

We sum this up in the phrase: “My Freedom, My Vote!”

What does CRCL stand for?

CRCL (which you should feel free to pronounce as ‘circle’) stands for Connected Representation plus Connected Legislation. This is the secret to making direct democracy work

Is Direct Democracy a Good Idea?

Yes. Absolutely. Without a doubt. We are aware that this point of view flies in the face of a lot of conventional wisdom, and even a lot of academic wisdom, on the subject. We understand that we have a lot of convincing to do. Let’s start that process now:

Direct democracy is not only possible, it is a better system than the one we have now


It will eliminate the need for political campaigning to fill seats in The House, which will, in turn:

  • Put a stop to the influence of big money donors,
  • Put an end to party politics in lawmaking.
  • Free your House Rep to work full time, representing their voters.

It will increase the efficiency of our self-government:

  • Government waste and boondoggles are caused by the current system,
  • Once policy and programs are in the hands of the voters, they will ‘right-size’ our self-government and get a bigger bang for their buck,
  • And, yes, we will be able to convince you that this is true!

It will root out corruption like you wouldn’t believe:

  • Voters will have unprecedented oversight of all the functional entities of our self-government,
  • Lawmakers won’t be able to use their office to enrich themselves or their buddies,
  • Gerrymandering will become useless,

It will solve the Under-representation Problem:

  • Each member of The House currently has about 760,000 constituents. This is the second largest ratio in the world,
  • There is a proven connection between under-representation, dysfunctional politics and the loss of liberty,
  • The CRCL Initiative will increase tenfold representation at the national level.

And it will gift our nation with many other benefits, including:

  • Preventing information overload,
  • Providing a human response to the dangers of AI,
  • Mitigating the tyranny of the majority,
  • And reinvigorating voters’ faith in the American system!

Our Self Government and The Big Disconnect

Notice how we always say ‘our self-government,’ where you might typically hear just the word ‘government?’ There is a reason why we do this. In fact, we recommend that you try to get in the habit of doing the same.

The point is, in a democracy like ours, ‘the government’ really is ‘our self-government.’ We elect the lawmakers who vote on the laws. This is why critics will point out that, if we don’t like ‘the government,’ this is entirely ‘our’ fault. “The voters get the representation they deserve.” Simple.

But it ain’t so simple

The trouble with this perspective is that it is a deliberately obtuse and dismissive way to look at the situation. The current system makes it impossible for the voters to have any meaningful control over what ‘the government’ does. In fact, the system was designed in order to make it impossible. It was designed by a group of men who were terrified by what ‘the people’ might want in practice, even if they believed in ‘self-determination’ in theory. So they erected a barbed-wire fence between the will of the people and the law of the land. And ‘our government’ became ‘the government.’ An impersonal, irrational, autonomous moloch that the voters, who are supposed to be in charge of it, could never hope to tame.

It’s All About The Big Disconnect

We call this “The Big Disconnect.” While other organizations may be trying to ‘bridge the gap between voters’ the only gap we want to bridge is between all the voters and the power of self-government. It is worth underscoring exactly what that means. We aren’t trying to connect people to each other. We live in a society together. We are already connected. The connection we are creating is between the will of the people and the law of the land.

How the CRCL Initiative works

The Goal

The goal is to set up a legislative body in your US Congressional district that is open to participation by any legal, registered voter in that district. We call this a CDL, for Connected District Legislature. Once a CDL has 150,000 or so members, they can run a candidate, chosen by them, in the general election, and they will have enough votes to get them elected to their district’s seat in the House of Representatives. Once in office, that CDL representative will vote with the will of the CDL, based on the direct vote of the majority, on a bill by bill basis.

It is a credit to our system that we have available to us a legal, practical means to implement direct democracy, should we choose to do so. And we should.

How to Build a District Legislature

Not through digital democracy alone…

Yes, there will be software involved. If it were 1980 we’d use fax machines, phone calls, and photocopies. In this day and age, we use the internet and a custom API. We have already developed an application to handle the internal organization of a CDL, and allow voters to keep a running tally of the votes on each bill.

It’s true, a lot of business can be conducted using digital technology these days, and that’s a good thing. But voters will always be able to demand that their delegates meet face-to-face and take minutes. We will encourage voters to set up their CDL’s in this way, and we will provide the functionality to support it.

Through a system of internal organization that makes sense…

Every CDL will need an internal system of organization that allows voters to control what they do through their functions of self-government. We will provide the basic system that each district’s voters can use to build their own district legislature to suit their district’s needs. However, there is an inviolable rule when it comes to these things: no legislature should be able to operate without a quorum. A quorum is the minimum number of members in attendance required to pass new rules or enact laws.

Our definition of a ‘quorum’…

It will take a CDL, on average, 150,000 votes at the ballot box on election day to put one of their own members in their district’s seat in The House. So we define it this way: you’ve reached a quorum on the day one of your members is sworn into congress! We’ll be working with your CDL every step of the way, and we’ll make sure you are able to function without training wheels come the big day. January 20th of some year in the future. The sooner the better.

Why this is finally possible…

Simply by proposing this Initiative, DSUp has been able to achieve something that no other organization has been able to do. What is different? What changed? Why is it finally possible to think of this now, whereas it wasn’t for so many years? The main development is that we have gotten rid of the idea that the voters need to be ‘educated’ before they can be ‘permitted’ to vote directly on legislation. We see voters as having all the knowledge and skill necessary to do the job, right now. Furthermore, we know that they will do a much better job of it than any legislature put in power through the old system. This means we can implement a process that allows you, the voters, maximum flexibility and control. It is your right to legislate on your own terms, through your own means–and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

Making the Direct Vote Work

You start by joining something called a Circle. (The god of acronyms really blessed us on that score!) A Circle is a self-assembled group of six to twelve voters who generally agree on the major issues. The members of a Circle put forward a First Delegate. Being in a Circle connects you to the operations of your CDL and enables you to either vote directly on bills, or, at your discretion, give your First Delegate the power to do that for you. That’s called a ‘proxy’ vote.

It’s Your Circle, Do With It as You Please…

To be clear, being in a Circle just connects you to the process. It is a meaningful connection exactly because you can do with it what you will. A Circle can be as active or inactive as its members choose to be. As long as you are in a Circle, you will always have a First Delegate, who will have your proxy vote–unless you choose to actively vote yourself. So, even when you are not active, someone you know personally will have your back and vote your priorities. And when you want to be active, you will have easy access to your direct vote.

You will never be assigned to a Circle–you get to choose, and you can switch to another Circle whenever you want, or drop out altogether. But, if you are not in a Circle, you will not have a direct vote. And you can’t be in more than one Circle at a time!

You are in control…

Also, you have total control over everything that has to do with your involvement in the Circle. Your CDL as a whole will be engaging in a lot of activity–too much for any one person to keep track of. You can tell your First Delegate which things you want to hear about, and which things you do not. That is, you can focus your energy on your personal priorities and what, if anything, interests you–expressing your individual ‘will’ as one of ‘the people.’ You can even ‘silence notifications,’ as it were, and let the system do its work without you for a while. That’s the way it should be.

A Chain of Delegation…

A chain of delegation connects each voter to what is going on within their CDL. Orders from the voters flow forward through the chain of delegation to the delegates. Reports and requests flow back from the delegates to the voters. We’ve developed an online system that can be used to keep track of all of this, and serve as a permanent record. We call it, “The Back and Forth,” or B&F for short.

This is the Future of Democracy

Something like this is going to happen eventually. We can’t keep approaching self-government the way we have for the first 235 years of American democracy. The old system had a good run, but the world has become too complex, too sophisticated, and too fast-paced for it to continue supporting our ambitions as a nation–at least not in its current form. It needs an update. Some other system for ideation and voting on legislation is going to evolve in the future.

This is that system.

Is This Even Legal?

The Legal Structure of a CDL

Your CDL does not have, and does not need to have, legal standing. Anyone elected to serve in The House may cast their vote on the floor as they wish. What CRCL proposes is that the voters position someone in their House seat who wishes to vote with the majority of the people they serve, as reflected in the vote of their district’s CDL.

No Change to Existing Law

No changes to current election law, either on the federal or state level, are required to fully implement CRCL nationwide. No changes to the US Constitution are required either.

The Biggest Challenge Faced by The CRCL Initiative

There are three major elements to making nationwide Connected Representation and Connected Legislation a reality. The first two are relatively easy.

  1. Since we aren’t changing, or violating, any existing laws, we don’t need any help from the existing legislators, and we needn’t fear the court system. So no worries there.
  2. Since all it takes is a promotional campaign and some custom software, which, in the scheme of things, isn’t all that difficult or expensive, the logistics of the CRCL Initiative are not that daunting.

So what is the hold up? What is that third element that is gumming up the works?

Learned Helplessness and You

There is a famous, horrible, but very important experiment that was conducted by shocking dogs (trigger warning, animal lovers).

The idea is you put a dog in a cage with an electrified floor and leave the door open. The dog, of course, leaps off the electrified floor and out the door.

Then you shut the door.

The dog tries to leap away from the electrified floor, but can’t. Eventually, it gives up trying. It just lays on the floor, whimpering. It’s really horrible.

But then, after enough time has passed, you open the cage door.

And the dog just sits there, whimpering! It doesn’t leap out the door to escape the pain! In fact, experimenters found there was only one way to get a dog that had learned to be helpless to escape the pain of being electrocuted.

They had to physically drag the dogs out the door! AT LEAST TWICE!

(The Wikipedia article on this is quite good, check it out.)

So, for us, that is you. You are so inured to the pain you are in because of the current system, you don’t even know that you want it to stop. You will not see the open door. You will not anticipate that exquisite relief awaits you on the other side. Being human, you will make up a bunch of cleverly elaborate excuses as to why you will not go through the door, why the door is wrong, and the people pointing to the door are really up to no good.

This motivates, and simplifies, the approach that the CRCL Initiative will take:

We are going to drag American voters–kicking and screaming if necessary–into the future of democracy!

We are Making This Happen! What Are You Doing?