Consensus Democracy

From P2P Foundation
Jump to navigation Jump to search


Proposal by Roger D Rothenberger to reform the U.S. political system, put forward in the book Beyond Plutocracy:

"Correcting the imbalance of powers requires a partial redesign of our government. I have written a book Beyond Plutocracy - True Democracy for America available free at ( that offers alterations to our government and society designed to move us beyond our current plutocracy, creating a more perfect union possessing greater justice, freedom, and happiness for everyone.

The best form of government results from the joining together of direct democracy (people directly voting on issues) and representative democracy (what America has today) in such a way as to overcome the shortcomings of both. By itself, so-called representative democracy only results in plutocracy, governance by the wealthy, who serve themselves first and best. But the usually proposed correction, direct majority-rule democracy, results in "the tyranny of democracy," the tyranny of the simple majority over the rest of the populace.

However, limited direct democracy and limited representative democracy judiciously joined together as described in this book results in a just distribution of government powers that do not unduly favor any particular group. The resulting consensus government, as it is called, significantly increases the personal responsibility, good citizenship, freedom, and happiness of everyone and produces the good governance and "the good society" that we all seek.

In the Demos, the new fourth branch of government presented in this book, the entire electorate practices a new kind of direct democracy called consensus democracy that is very different from the majority-rule democracy of old. Consensus democracy produces no winners or losers but achieves the moderate consensus of the entire electorate, a golden mean.

Unlike today's periodic elections, voting in the Demos is ongoing. Each member of the Demos has a vote "riding" on each issue in the Demos that he or she may change at any time. Demos computers continuously recalculate vote tallies to maintain the current consensus of the electorate which serves as our "social contract" and sets limits within which all of government and society must function.

In the Demos the electorate directly deliberates and votes on the following fixed set of our society's most important economic issues:

       * Overall federal tax rate (which, over time, determines the size of the federal government)
       * Distribution of the tax burden on
             o businesses
             o personal income
             o inheritances 
       * Hours in the workweek
       * Minimum wage
       * Level of federal debt or savings
       * Portion of federal tax revenue for
             o military
             o health care
             o other entitlements
             o other government functions 

In the Demos the electorate directly elects the president. And members of the electorate of like body, mind, interests, and pocketbook are empowered to reach out to each other to elect senators and representatives that resemble and truly represent them. Rather than choosing one's "lesser of evils" from among candidates financed and, therefore, preselected by the wealthy as most of us do today, one chooses one's champion for each office. The resulting senate and house proportionally resemble and serve the true interests of the entire electorate. Their members write laws and rules for government, business, and labor that wisely serve the entire nation.

Thus, the government design presented in this book creates a golden mean and just, balanced governance in three ways:

  • The entire electorate achieves consensus on the economic issues included in the Demos.
  • The members of the electorate are empowered to elect officeholders that resemble and truly represent them.
  • Proportionally resembling the entire electorate, the representative branches of government create laws and rules that serve the entire electorate.

What makes it possible for an electorate of people possessing widely varying capability to vote on such important issues? When just the right issues are selected, only a few issues need to be included, and with these issues it is easy to understand one's true self-interest. A surprisingly simple method of voting is used based on the traffic signal colors green, yellow, and red. (Other colors and voting methods would be available for those who need them.)

The greatest measures of liberty and responsible personal freedom for everyone are not created by maximizing direct democracy and minimizing representative democracy to the fullest extent possible. They are created by achieving the correct distribution and balance of powers within government (ultimately at all levels) and by focusing the electorate and government most centrally on just the right body of economic and electoral issues of greatest importance to our society.

The partial redesign of the American government presented in this book does not make the mistake of overreacting to current imbalance and injustice by assigning too much power to the Demos. Limiting the Demos to a fixed set of issues permanently specifies and limits its powers. The powers assigned to the Demos are permanently denied the representative branches of government, thus limiting their powers and excesses.

Nor does this design make the mistake of including in the Demos a large number or an open-ended stream of complex, subjective issues that are best handled by other areas of government and in other parts of society. It sets right what is really wrong with the American government, its current distribution of power, and then wisely does no more. In doing this, it makes possible the correction or mitigation of most of our nation's other political, economic, and social ills.

Beyond Plutocracy's Chapter 29: Why This Democracy and Not Some Other? [1] contains a more detailed discussion of the necessity and virtues of consensus democracy, as opposed to majority-rule democracy, for correcting the problem of our government's imbalance of power. Its Chapter 26: A Demos-style Method of Electing the President, Senators, and Representatives [2] discusses a very simple electoral system that achieves just, proportional representation without resorting to complex methods such as proportional party representation, ranked lists (each voter selecting multiple ordered names) or anything of the sort." (