"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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Monday, January 28, 2008


Washington's politicians, especially those who have allowed themselves to become subservient to corporate puppetmasters and their lobbyists, are not prepared to relinquish power to the people by moving towards a more direct democracy, but the people keep organizing in order to achieve that end, in an attempt to increase the power of the popular voice in government.

Technological developments such as cell phones and, above all else, the internet have without a doubt become amazing tools in this effort, providing lines of communication for organizing, networking, and access to alternative media outlets outside of corporate control. Washington has counterattacked by introducing radical measures to monitor citizen's activities on the internet and their phone communications. This provides them with a database which can be used to spy on political opponents within the general population, and also has a chilling effect 0n people's readiness to freely express their political views, because they rightly fear that 'Big Brother' is watching.

Those in Washington have recognized the potential for a surge in popular power that these technologies have unleashed, and are attempting to squelch it as they have successfully done in the past with radio and television. We as citizens need to demand continued free and unfettered access to these new media and the type of information they provide without fear of being spied upon, and without them being regulated and restructured in order to strip them of the potential they have for increasing freedom of political expression and grassroots organizing.

The following article illustrates but one example of how the government is attempting to crack down on political expression in this manner. If those in Washington implementing these measures truly believed that our government is 'of the people, by the people, and for the people,' then they would not lessen our motivation to participate for fear of being spied upon or reprimanded, but instead would inspire us to act against the corrupt and oppressive elements within the government that have usurped power from the people, where the nation's constitution states that it is to be vested. - Editor

Maine Peace Groups Under FBI Scrutiny

(Source: http://www.agrnews.org/?section=archives&cat_id=13&article_id=257&rowx=0 )

Feb. 1- The Maine Civil Liberties Union (MCLU) announced on Feb. 1 that it has uncovered evidence of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) surveillance of the Maine Coalition for Peace and Justice. The FBI responded to a June records request from the MCLU with revelations that it has intercepted and collected past communications from members of the Maine Coalition for Peace and Justice, a statewide organization of individual citizens and Maine group representatives working collectively and nonviolently for social equality, economic justice, direct democracy and regenerative environmental policies.

"Knowing that the government is spying without probable cause on innocent Mainers sends a chilling message to all of us that our conversations are not our own," said Shenna Bellows, executive director of the Maine Civil Liberties Union. "Spying on peace activists exercising their First Amendment rights does nothing to make this country safer, but it does make us less free."

In a related matter, the MCLU filed a federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on behalf of local peace activists, protest groups and civil libertarians whose lawful activities may have been monitored by the Pentagon. The move is part of a national ACLU effort to reveal the extent and purpose of Pentagon spying.

The MCLU filed its FOIA request on behalf of the American Friends Service Committee, Maine Program on Youth and Militarism, the Maine Coalition for Peace and Justice and the MCLU itself. The MCLU is seeking the disclosure of all documents maintained by the Department of Defense on the individuals and groups, as well as information on whether the records have been shared with other government agencies.

The national ACLU filed a similar FOIA request on behalf of the American Friends Service Committee, Veterans for Peace, United for Peace and Justice and Greenpeace. ACLU affiliates in Georgia, Rhode Island, Florida, Pennsylvania and California are seeking Pentagon files on local groups.

Activist groups across the country learned through news reports in December that they are listed in the Pentagon's Threat and Local Observation Notice (TALON) database. The TALON program was initiated by former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz in 2003 to track groups and individuals with possible links to terrorism, but the Pentagon has been collecting information on peaceful activists and monitoring anti-war and anti-military recruiting protests throughout the United States. Following public outcry over the domestic spying program, current Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England issued a memorandum on Jan. 13 directing intelligence personnel to receive "refresher training on the policies for collection, retention, dissemination and use of information related to US

Documents requested by the national ACLU under previous FOIA requests have revealed that the FBI is using its Joint Terrorism Task Forces to gather extensive information about peaceful organizations such as Greenpeace and Food Not Bombs. Earlier this month, the ACLU filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of journalists, scholars and attorneys against the National Security Agency for illegally intercepting vast quantities of the international telephone and internet communications of US citizens without court approval.

"The Pentagon's monitoring of anti-war protesters is yet another example of a government agency using its powers to spy on law-abiding Americans who criticize US policies," said Ben Wizner, a staff attorney with the national ACLU. "How can we believe that the National Security Agency is intercepting only al-Qaida phone calls when we have evidence that the government is keeping tabs on peace activists in Maine?"

DBTP Editor - Also see the following article about a new proposed plan to increase even further the governments cyberspace spying programs:


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