When a Voting Advice System exists, you will use it. Here’s why.
Originally published 2004
In a nutshell, the reasons are personal convenience and a strong democracy. But here’s a top-10 list that provides a bit more detail:
When it’s time to vote, you go one place to get advice advisors you trust. You don’t have to go hunting for them.
You get recommendations from every advisor you trust, on all issues they’ve thought about. For example, someone you might be unaware that one of the people you trust has recommendations on a particular ballot measure — so you might not even think to look for their thoughts on the subject.
A democracy in which elected representatives are truly accountable, because the people who are watching over their shoulders can easily reach everyone who is eligible to vote for that official. If your legislator isn’t doing what you expect them to do, you’ll find out about it — from someone you trust.
A democracy in which you’re more inclined to vote: because the process is more convenient, because politicians are more truly accountable, and because the system finally begins to reflect what’s important to you — because politicians are talking to the people you’re listening to, who are representing your concerns.
A democracy in which anyone has a reasonable chance of being elected, because the outcome depends on the strength of their ideas rather than on the depth of their pocketbook. Instead of having to reach hundreds of thousand of voters, you only need to reach a few hundred influential advisors — and you can find out who they are.
Newspaper columnists have a large readership. But how large, exactly? How many people trust their judgements enough to act on them? How many even reading their columns? Simple counts of newspaper and magazine readership can’t provide those numbers. But a site like the Citizens’ Advisory can. As a result, columnists, organizations, and advisors you trust get a stronger voice in government. If they represent 100,000 votes, and a corporate lobbyist is offering 100,000 dollars that might buy some votes, who is the politician going to listen to? To the person with the votes, every time. And that scenario is much different from business as usual in the Capitol.
- Watchdog Empowerment
Existing columnists act as watchdogs on our politicians, but their readership is sporadic. And voters might not get have the information they provide handy on election day. Many watchdog organizations exist, as well. But their outreach is confined to a limited membership and the occasional interview. With a Voting Advice System, their readership is multiplied many fold. They don’t have to be a establish columnist to reach voters. And the reward of readership will encourage many existing agencies to act as watchdogs, as well, because they know their recommendations will be heeded.
- Coalition Enabling
Does your organization influence enough votes to get an alternative candidate elected. Probably not. But with a Voting Advice System, you can find other organizations with similar agendas, and find out how many people they’re influencing. If you play your cards right, you can put together a coalition that’s truly effective.
- Economy of Effort
As important as it is to know what you can achieve, it’s important to know what you can’t achieve, as well. Is your organization considering support for a candidate who has no possibility of winning? If you find that out early, you can save the time, energy, and risk of being deemed “out of touch”, and instead join a forming coalition and support a candidate who can succeed. The Citizens’ Advisory makes that possible.
- No More “Sound Byte” Politics
When people make their decisions based on advice from people they trust, rather than on the basis of what they hear in the media, there will be little point in spending enormous sums on the glitzy production and ceaseless repetition that are the hallmark of media propaganda. In short, an advice network is an anti-propaganda system — one in which decisions are based on thoughtful deliberation, rather than on continuous repetition of slogans, lies and mudslinging attacks
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