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DWE NEWSLETTER OF MAY 1, 2021

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Contents

This month's newsletter features the following sections: Announcements, Ideas to Consider, State of the Organization, and DL (Democratic Lottery) Roundup of articles, papers, and reports of interest. To see the accompanying graphics, be sure your email client or browser is set to display images. 

From the Editor

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Welcome to the DWE newsletter. Your feedback and input is appreciated. Please send your responses to content, and relevant links to articles, papers, and reports of interest, as well as proposals for "Ideas to Consider" articles and other features to the Editor

DWE May Board Meeting


Monday, May 3 at 5:00 PM Eastern (2:00 PM Pacific)

Zoom link:
 
CLICK BUTTON BELOW TO ADD THIS MEETING TO YOUR CALENDAR

 
 
 

DWE May Meeting

 
Sunday, May 16. 4:00-5:00 PM Eastern (1:00-2:00 PM Pacific)

Zoom link:
This is a special meeting to be facilitated by Chris Forman:

What do you want DWE to achieve? 

DWE needs your input! The monthly meeting on 16th of May will be a discussion on whether the board's prototype mission statement accurately reflects the goals of the membership. The process, designed and led by Chris Forman, will provide the board with one or a small set of member-revised mission statements. At the subsequent board meeting in June the board will decide which member created mission statement will work best for the organization.

The board's prototype mission statement is: "DWE champions direct citizen participation in policymaking in a variety of contexts, to ensure that the people themselves, in representative assemblies chosen by sortition, have the power to promote the public good".

Since this is special meeting that will set the direction of the entire organization, we urge everyone to think about what they want DWE to achieve and consider whether the mission statement as proposed meets those expectations. The meeting will proceed in a "World Cafe" style deliberation designed to be fun. You will have the opportunity to chat with other members in small discussions, which will be a great way to get to know like-minded folks. Because of the importance of the process, this meeting
will last 90 minutes, which is longer than our usual 60 minute meeting.

The board hopes this process will encourage camaraderie, maximize the diversity of input into the creation of our mission statement, and foster a sense of ownership and common purpose in the final result.

CLICK BUTTON BELOW TO ADD THIS MEETING TO YOUR CALENDAR

Speed Community

 
Sunday, May 16. 3:30 PM Eastern (1:30 PM Pacific)

Zoom link:
The second Speed Community happens at 3:30 Eastern, 12:30 Pacific right before the Monthly Meeting on Sunday 16 May. Join us for some fun, and meet other Members in an entirely different way! It is the same Zoom link as the Monthly Meeting.
CLICK BUTTON BELOW TO ADD THIS MEETING TO YOUR CALENDAR

PARTISAN VS. NON-PARTISAN SORTITION ACTIVISM

Last month, this column proposed a question:

“Of course we need to be building a cross-ideological grassroots coalition to give democratic lotteries a place in government. But what about the existing political parties holding power? Currently they make the laws. Do we try to work with them or do we ignore them?”

Scott Trimble wrote in answer:

My answer is both, and yet neither. While I share your faith that democratic lotteries provide a method for achieving more democratic outcomes than any part of the existing political structure, I am also aware that even if we were able to get democratic lotteries established in places where they could actually make decisions to be implemented through existing governments, those outcomes might not initially be seen by the populace as in accord with their interests, or therefore, as “more democratic.” Furthermore, we should be very skeptical of the existing system and its dominant parties when they seem to be interested in sortition.

Certainly, there is a de facto hierarchy of degrees to which the anti-democratic tendencies of people in the existing system are manifest. Those in state government may be more open to ideas about enhancing democracy than those in the federal government, if for no other reason than they may be less experienced, less entrenched in the power games of inside-the-beltway politics, less indebted to the ruling class (i.e. the ultra-wealthy) for their present position, and less aware of their need to bend their knees to that class for the future or their careers if they desire to stay in politics (or if they have even greater ambitions of wealth, power, or both). Similarly, those freshman representatives in the lower house of a state legislature will be more open to democratic reforms than the leaders in their chambers, caucuses, or those in the executive branch (governors, lieutenant governors, attorneys general, etc.); and the rank-and-file of the parties, at all levels, will tend to be more open to such ideas than party leaders and elected officials.
 
Consequently, you must look at where you are getting support from a party. If it is coming from the upper echelons, it may be not that they are seeking to enhance democracy (i.e. popular control over government), but rather to create the illusion thereof, or a spectacle to distract public attention from other matters. However, it is very unlikely that anyone who rises to a position of power within the inherently corrupt model of electoral pseudo-democracy within capitalism would willingly surrender their power to the people, and even more unlikely that any majority of them will.

Therefore, we work “with” them to the extent that, and with the understanding that, our real goal is to educate the public as broadly as possible about how the existing system is anti-democratic, and how only one based on sortition, deliberative democracy, and frequent rotation of civic service in order to be expanded to as many people as possible, can ever be truly democratic. We definitely do not “ignore” them, but neither do we simply petition them to grant us our demands out of altruism, or expect that those concessions they make toward demarchic governance are genuine, or sufficient.

There is a degree to which the processes and outcomes of democratic lotteries and citizen’s assemblies will not be seen as democratic until we win “the hearts and minds” of a significant segment of the public, but there is also a degree to which we cannot win the hearts and minds of the public until they see the processes for themselves, or at least see the outcomes, and be shown how those outcomes are for the general well-being of the people collectively and the society overall, even as regressive forces in the corporate media, the political establishment, and in the ruling class, and even the petty bourgeois “middle class” attempt to argue the opposite.

 

Do you have an idea to consider for the next newsletter? Send HERE.
Several important positions that require a few hours a week need to be filled. Contact Owen for more information: 
  • Our Facebook Page needs to be developed and maintained.
  • We need a Webmaster for our wonderful new website. The WM would be responsible for making sure that the website supports, and is consistent with, the DWE vision and mission and that it also complies with fair use rules and any other DWE requirements. The WM will also be involved in website design and verification and would be expected to attend both the Coordination Committee and the Outreach Committee meetings
  • We have two committees that have a few open seats. The Outreach Committee manages the website and other ways that DWE connects to people. The Coordinating Committee manages the organization under the Board’s direction.
  • Are you an accountant or bookkeeper? We need a person to set up our financial system and become our Treasurer
 
*****
 
Six people are joining our Board of Directors in June: Leroy Martin, California; Laura Mirsky, New Jersey; Madeline McCarren, Illinois; Lezli Warburton, California; Robyn Morris, California; and Margaret Toman, North Carolina. More information on the lottery that chose them is here.
 
 
Our June Monthly Meeting will start a two-part series on stratification. Stratification is a process that works to ensure that those selected through a democratic lottery are representative of the population on specific demographics like gender and income. The June session will be led by Madeline McCarren and look at the underlying principles while the July meeting, led by Scott Trimble and Terry Hulsey, will explore whether stratification should be used and, if so, how.

Owen Shaffer, Operations Coordinator
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