The goal of the Citizens' Advisory Organization is to make money irrelevant to the election process and, in the process, return control of government to individual citizens. The idea is to put the "i" back in "politics". That's "i" as in the individual voter, "aye" as in the voice of the average citizen, and "eye" as in keeping a watchful eye on politicians. The primary tool that accomplishes that purpose is a voting advice system that makes it easy to get voting recommendations from people you trust and which, in the process, empowers your selected advisors and advisory organizations with political influence--to even the playing field, so that corporate money no longer dominates the equation.
The goal is to create a policy-neutural enabling technology. One that lets people connect to each other and advisors they trust for voting advice. The resulting advice ecosystem provide tremendous convenience for voters, zero-cost outreach for watchdog organizations, and money-free politics for society--because it won't matter what sound-bites politicians put on the airwaves, you'll be making decisions based on the advice of individuals and organizations who have examined their record using perspectives and values you share.
Bottom line: You get the policies and legislators you want, instead of heavily-advertised charades that only sound good.
That happens, because a voting advice system helps you vote intelligently. You choose advisors you trust and search for additional advisors who share your outlook. You can give advice on any subject you care to, but you'll be able to depend on recommendations provided by trusted advisors--advisors who examine candidate's record or evaluate the impact of a ballot measure. You get all the recommendations you need to vote intelligently, all in one place. Armed with those recommendations, you can go to the polls confident that you're making a reasonably intelligent choice, without engaging in exhaustive research on each and every topic. (Alternatively, you can use their recommendations as a starting point to dive even more deeply into the subject. It's your choice!)
The goal can be achieved by creating an advice aggregation and authoring system. The aggregator gathers all the information you need in one place. It's there when you want it, and it's easy to use. It's an information-on-demand system that revolves around you. That's the "i" in politics. It's convenient and it boosts voter confidence, so it will work to raise voter turnout. That's the "aye" in politics. And instead of basing your decisions on advertising and political speeches, instead of wondering about the real implications of a policy proposal, you can listen to your advisors' evaluations. So instead of focusing on what politicians say, you'll know what they do. That's the "eye" in politics.
Advice from well-recognized figures is available today in the form of endorsements. One great site for getting that information is Smart Voter, a non-partisan web site hosted by the League of Woman Voters. Your voting information pamphlet also lists major endorsements. But the system described here is more open. Anyone can give advice, so more advice is available, on more issues. At the same time, the reception is filtered. You determine which endorsements you'll see, so you don't get advice you don't want.
But as much as the system benefits individual voters, the benefits for society are even greater. And since anyone can be an advisor, the result is a network of concerned citizens acting for the common good. Meanwhile, the organizations and individuals selected as advisors gain greater political influence because, while the anonymity of individual subscribers is carefully preserved, the number of subscribers who place their trust in an advisor can be seen by everyone. For the first time, the ability to deliver votes can be foretold, so political influence depends on the number of voters an individual or an organization represents, rather than on the size of their campaign contributions. In other words, when you select advisors, you are in effect voting to let them act as your political representatives and lobbyists.
The voting advice system lets you base your decisions on carefully reasoned and researched analysis from expert advisors. (Or you can listen to some brain-dead crackpot, instead. It's your choice. If they're offering advice, you have the option to subscribe to it.)
The voting advice system introduces a new level of accountability in the political process. And you empower advisors you trust to represent you more effectively. The result of that powerful combination is a thoughtful democracy -- a democracy in which the health and welfare of its citizens come first -- and one in which legislators pay more attention to lobbyists than to analysts.
As a voter, you gain tremendous convenience. As an advisor, you gain widespread, cost-effective readership. But most importantly, as a society, we all gain from by making money irrelevant to the election equation, so that people speak louder than dollars.
- For a quick summary of the problem we face, see The Problem Of Money in Poltics.
- For a thorough discussion of why it's needed, see Taking the Money Out of Politics.
- To see how it works, read The Design of An Adviory System.
- To find out why you should use it, read the Top Ten Reasons.)
Finally, voting advice networks are part of a bigger picture of political reforms. To see what else needs to be done, see Overhauling the American Political System.
The Citizens' Advisory is currently under construction. Join us now and help make the system a reality!