"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves, and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson


We as Americans all remember being taught when we were young about our nation's founders, the patriots who stood up to the tyranny of the crown of England, the drafters of the declaration of independence, the constitution, and the bill of rights, the documents that became the framework for a system of governance that they believed would maintain a balance of power within a truly representative government, that would preserve the basic rights and liberties of the people, let their voice be heard, and provide to them a government, as Lincoln later put it, "of the people, by the people, and for the people."

What we may not be so quick to recall, however, is that there was much debate between the founding fathers as to what model our system of government should follow. Those such as Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, and Patrick Henry on one side favored a pure and direct democracy with the legislative power vested in the very hands of the people, while others such as James Madison, John Adams and George Washington held that a representative democracy would better serve the people than a true democracy because they believed it would protect the individual liberties of the minority from the will of the majority. Alexander Hamilton even went so far as to support the creation of a monarchy. In the end, those favoring representative democracy won the day and that is the system they put in place in the hopes of creating a "more perfect union."

Now we must ask ourselves, what would the founding fathers think if they were resurrected today to see what has become of their vision? One can only assume that they would begin to search for modern day patriots to meet them once again at the liberty tree in order to plan a new struggle for freedom and self governance. Although we continue to praise and honor those who founded our nation and sought to create a truly just form of government for it, do we really stop to reflect on whether we as a nation have in fact succeeded in preserving what they fought so hard to create?

Today, in contrast to our revolutionary ancestors, we as citizens of the United States generally observe politics from afar and the vast majority of us may participate in the political process only to the extent that we go to the polls once a year to vote. Over the decades and centuries we have allowed the erosion of the ideals of the founding fathers and the corruption of the principles which they enshrined in those so carefully conceived documents. We have been left with essentially no real power to influence our "democratically" elected officials. We may write an occasional letter to our senator or representative that generates a form letter in response and a statistical data entry that may or may not be weighed against the influence of some powerful corporate lobby. We may be permitted to participate in a march or demonstration of thousands or even millions, something our patriots of old would have marvelled at, only to be dismissed as a 'focus group' with no bearing on policy decisions.

How then is the government held accountable to the voice of the people? Are the people meant to speak only at the polls when given a choice between a select few candidates that may be equally corrupt? No, as Jefferson and his allies rightly believed, the people should be heard much more than that.

In spite of their good intentions, the system of representative democracy that the founding fathers opted for has been systematically undermined and has ultimately failed in preserving the well being of the people of this nation. Most of us accept this reality as being beyond our control and continue to observe, comment, and complain without aspiring to achieving any real change. Our local leaders and activists in our communities, and even those local elected officials who may have the best of intentions are for the most part powerless to make real positive change happen in our neighborhoods, towns and villages when there is so much corruption from above.

We have become so accustomed to this failed system of representative democracy that it may not occur to us that there are other alternative forms of democracy. In various places around the world participatory or direct democracy has been instituted both in concert with representative democracy, and as a replacement for it. It is a form of democracy that is designed to take directly into account your views, and the views of your neighbors, and to politically empower you to make real positive change possible in your communities. Initiative, referendum & recall, community councils, and grassroots organizing are but a few ways in which direct/participatory democracy is achieving great success around the world.

This site will attempt to explore in depth the concept of participatory democracy and how this grass-roots based form of governance could help bring us back in line with the principles this country was founded upon if it were allowed to take root here. In the hope that one day we can become a nation working together as a united people practicing true democracy as true equals, we open this forum…



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Saturday, January 26, 2008


What is the National Initiative?

Not everyone is aware of the existence of the National Initiative for Democracy, which is an elaborate plan to institute a system of direct democracy in the U.S.A. It would be enacted in the form of a constitutional amendment made binding by a popular vote in which the majority of the nationwide electorate approves it. This bold and visionary plan to create a balance of power betweeen the people and the existing branches of government is largely the work of former senator and current presidential candidate Mike Gravel. Read the following article and follow the links to learn more about it. You can also register your vote right now for the National Initiative. When 50 million have done so, it becomes the law! Find out how. -Editor


The United States of America is not, in fact, a democracy. In a democracy, the people are the government. Today, we elect people to run the government for us. The people we elect do not, for the most part, run the country in the interest of the people, they run it in the interest of themselves. We are led to believe that we must put our trust in these people. We, the people, do not have the power to create laws in our interest. This leads to an extreme imbalance of power in the government versus the people.

To solve these problems and create a true balance of power, The Democracy Foundation has created a plan named the National Initiative for Democracy.

The powerful elites who control our government will self-servingly argue that the People are not qualified or do not know enough to be trusted to make laws. To counter those opposed to empowering the People, one needs only look to the record of the last 100 years in the 24 states where the People make laws by initiative. In those states the People have legislated responsibly, and many times more so than their elected representatives. Civil service, campaign finance reform, and women's right to vote are but a few examples of the progressive legislation initiated by the People.

The experience of Switzerland is even more instructive. Switzerland, a poor, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, hardscrabble country without natural resources, decided, 140 years ago, to adopt a constitution that brought the People into the operation of government as lawmakers. Even the acclaimed Alexis de Tocqueville had serious doubts that this Swiss experiment in direct democracy would work. The result is without precedent in human history; Switzerland has evolved into the most successfully governed and wealthiest nation in the world.

The National Initiative has been developed and refined over the past decade by former Senator Mike Gravel (D. Alaska, 1969 - 1981) and his colleagues. The Democracy Foundation, a nonprofit 501 c 3 organization, is sponsoring the National Initiative. Philadelphia II, a separate nonprofit organization, is conducting an election on National Initiative at votep2.us, giving the people the opportunity to vote for and enact the National Initiative into law. Both are organizations are led by Senator Gravel.

The National Initiative is a legislative proposal that includes an amendment to the Constitution, the Democracy Amendment and a proposed federal statute, the Democracy Act. The Amendment 1) asserts the constituent sovereignty of the People to make laws, 2) outlaws monies in initiative elections not from natural persons, and 3) legalizes the self-enactment process of the Philadelphia II election.

The Act establishes deliberative legislative procedures for the People and creates an administrative agency (the Electoral Trust) to implement those procedures on behalf of the People, independent of representative governments.

With the National Initiative's enactment, the American People will experience the responsibility of legislating and governing themselves directly, the benefits of which will bring about greater civic maturity. The National Initiative does not alter the existing structure of representative governments; however, it does add an additional check, the People, to our system of Checks and Balances. Bringing the People into the legislative operations of government sets up a working partnership with the People and their elected legislative representatives.

The election by Philadelphia II at votep2.us overcomes the monopoly of representative government over the people and the failure of Congress to share its lawmaking powers with the People, who are already experienced as lawmakers in 24 states where they make laws by initiative, and everywhere, whenever people vote on bond issues.

The Philadelphia II election began on September 17, 2002 allowing people to the use of the Internet to vote on the National Initiative. The successful use of this ubiquitous technology now depends on supporters networking their friends, relatives, colleagues and organizations informing them that they can enact the National Initiative into law without the government by voting at: votep2.us

The ideological foundation of the National Initiative rests on the belief that the constituent power of the People is sovereign and the American People can govern themselves as they see fit in pursuit of their happiness and the general welfare. George Washington put it best: The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government.

You can best equip yourself to help network your friends by investigating the subjects below and following their links (which are repeated in the left margin of the following pages) to learn more about:

The National Initiative For Democracy: A description of the National Initiative

The Democracy Amendment: Full text of the proposed amendment to the United States Constitution.

The Democracy Act: Full text of the proposed federal statute establishing procedures for the Legislature of the People.

Parrish Report: A more easily readable description of the National Initiative

Rationale: Why we need the National Initiative.

First Principles: The philosophical foundation of the National Initiative.

Partnership In Democracy: How the Legislature of the People, working in partnership with our elected legislators, overcomes the flaws of a purely representative democracy while retaining its benefits.

Constitutionality: The legal foundation of the National Initiative.

Action Plan: The plan of action to enact the National Initiative

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