We as citizens of the United States 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. We may endeavor to follow the news accounts of our nation's politics as they unfold, and of the consequences those political actions yield, but we have little power to influence our "democratically" elected officials. Perhaps we write an occasional letter to our senator or representative, but we almost inevitably receive a vague and impersonal response explaining why they will vote in our opposition.

Over the decades, our representative democracy has been systematically undermined and has ultimately failed in preserving the well being of the people of this nation. The system that the founding fathers painstakingly devised in order to best serve the interests and the will of the people has been corrupted and the systems of checks and balances on power that they instituted have been stripped away. 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, without any hope of instituting a new system of governance that would instead take directly into account your views, and the views of your neighbors, and would empower you to make real positive change possible in your communities.

This site will attempt to explore in depth the places in the world where people are successfully bringing about that type of change in the face of similar odds, where an alternate form of democracy, which is called participatory or direct democracy, is taking root. 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.

Our system of representative democracy does not admit the voice of the people into congressional halls, the high courts, or the oval office where our rights and our liberties are being sold out from underneath us. 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.

In places like Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Brazil, South Africa, India, and the Phillipines, new experiments in grass roots community based governance are taking place. There is much to be learned from these and other examples of participatory democracy from around the world when we try to examine how this grass-roots based governance could begin to take root here in our own country in order to alter our political system so that it might better serve the American people.

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…


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

CANADA: New Brunswick Green Party Gains Momentum with Platform of Participatory Democracy

Green Party sets its roots for 2010

Published Monday November 17th, 2008
Mike Milligan acclaimed as interim leader at founding convention
A4by dwayne tingley
times & transcript staff

Mike Milligan called it an historic day and he expects politics in New Brunswick to never be the same.

New Brunswick's Green Party took its first steps toward fielding a full slate of 55 candidates for the next provincial election in 2010 Saturday at its founding convention at the Université de Moncton student centre.

The day-long convention attracted about 30 participants and 22 voting delegates who unanimously acclaimed Milligan, a 51-year-old small businessman from Shediac River, as its interim leader.

"This is grassroots democracy," said Milligan, who operates a motorcycle shop in Moncton.

"For years, it has been obvious the existing political parties have not been listening to the people, but the Green Party offers participatory democracy, where everyone has a say and the people speak for the government."

Delegates spent most of day debating and ratifying the party's constitution, which includes bylaws covering everything from how their leader will be chosen to how members will be notified of upcoming meetings.

The party expects to hold its first leadership convention next spring. Until then, efforts will be made to organize associations in each of the province's 55 ridings.

Milligan, who was the Green candidate in the federal riding of Beausejour in the recent federal election and collected almost 3,200 votes, said the party has a solid foundation and predicted it will continue to grow.

"We got 22,000 votes (about seven per cent) in New Brunswick in the last federal election so people are hearing our message," Milligan said.

"We've been well-represented in southern New Brunswick, but we have to be better organized in the northern part of the province," he said. "We're hoping more people step forward and help us out now that we have had our first convention and things are coming together."

The party also elected its first executive at the meeting and long-time director of Conservation Council of New Brunswick Janice Harvey of Waweig, near St. Stephen, was chosen president.

Francoise Aubin of Dieppe and Stephanie Coburn of Sussex will serve as vice-presidents while Pierre Roy of Moncton will be the secretary and Leona Davies of Fredericton will be treasurer.

Executive members at-large are: Art Hacking of Memramcook, Beth Stymiest of Riverview, Marco Morency of Moncton, Mathieu Bourgeois of Moncton and Mary Ann Coleman of Waterford, near Sussex.

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