I was an active Democrat from 2004 to December of 2009. It’s a long story but I quit this group because I got tired of volunteering for a Super Pac / soft-money conduit around campaign finance rules. The GOP is just as bad, and again, that’s another story. I am also an active Grange member — a community group that takes on issues but steers clear of party politics and elections for public office. My point is that I have experience with groups and this is what has led me to conceive an Open Source party.
Social networking is transforming our world. I am perplexed that social networking has not made more of an impact on political association. These two are closely related but any merging has been limited to top-down efforts.
My idea, as a believer in the power of association, is to have a bottom-up structure for people to feel ownership in a virtual party.
I have been trying to organize such an endeavor in Washington State. It can still happen for the 2014 election, however, I feel my greatest hindrance is my personal situation. I get the feeling that the good people that I have approached are expecting me to throw myself into such a thing with full gusto. And I should be, but considering some of my ongoing commitments, I can’t be Chair of a new party.
This gets me to why I am sharing this idea with netizens. I believe that a virtual party is bound to happen sooner or later, so I might as well get the idea out there! Here is how an Open Source Party could work.
We need to get some kind of interface together — probably a WIKI engine. The WIKI can have draft by-laws (which I already have and will publish next). Users then can go over the drafts. (I know that WIKIs can get into tug-of-wars, but we can have a rule that you can cut and paste your own version of the by-laws and users will gravitate to the drafts that they best support.)
A time-table should emerge for our next step: organizing the party.
USER AS MEMBER
If things can keep together, in the next couple of months we can organize our party. This means two things: 1. ratify our by-laws / constitution, 2. elect our officers. (See the upcoming by-laws for how this will happen). We need some kind of election software or vender to help us get off the ground.
Here is a question we will have to resolve. Will we have individual state parties or a national party? Perhaps both? Will we be targeting Congress or just state legislatures? Or both? This depends on financial resources, so let’s get to that.
The biggest motivation for Open Source is to provide a platform for people to amplify their voices. In the United States, money is political speech so why not just run with that concept? Open Source should have a $5.00 monthly membership fee. The dues offer privileges. Members can submit resolutions and party planks. Members also vote on nominees and party officers. The goal is to harness the vast numbers on the internet to provide a monthly income stream to the party to use in campaigns for our candidates.
In addition, we need to agree on individual campaign contribution limits for our candidates. It could be like $100.00 or $250.00 — our candidates can’t raise more money than our imposed limit. Candidates can’t self-finance either. The idea is, through the awesome power of social networking, for something real to be done about the distorting influence of money in politics.
The election of officers can be held over several days on the internet. Those elected as leadership need to start having meetings. These meetings could be streamed to members with published minutes. Officers could even be compensated if resources permit such an expenditure. And if resources allow, an executive director and daily staff will be hired.
Members can run for the Open-Source imprimatur. We should see home-made videos on a favorite or popular video streaming service. The elections will have to be timely with local filing rules.
Open Source candidates will work with the party leadership. This is where the leadership need to demonstrate political acumen. Check out my article on the 2010 UK general election and how a third-party managed to win seats in a two-party system by targeting selected races. We’ll need good candidates to be credible and hopefully our nominations can provide them. In the end, the party leadership will have to work with resources to support those who seem viable and worthy.
WEB SURFERS UNITE!
If you think you’re participating in politics by commenting on blogs and newspaper articles — think again. Open Source provides an actual value of real participation for your time and money. You could be elected Chair! Run for office! Plenty of kinks to iron out but this is new terrain. I will post the by-laws soon. Thanks for reading.