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Can Crowdsourced Government Happen in the U.S.?
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editorial

Can Crowdsourced Government Happen in the U.S.?

Editor's Note: The following article comes to us from Dustin DeMoss, who recently published an ebook titled 'The Rise of Crowdsourced Politics.' DeMoss shows two examples of effective crowdsourced government initiatives in Europe and discusses America's OPEN Act, which was created with input from the public. 

Finland and Iceland have both taken steps to crowdsourcing democracy, and they’ve made it look easy.

Finland allows legislation to be created by the citizens by linking the accounts on the Open Ministry project to their bank accounts or cell phones. If 50,000 people participate and sign a piece of proposed legislation on the Open Ministry project, within six months it is sent to Parliament. Iceland has had similar success with Better Reykjavik, an open platform for the city’s denizens to create and share ideas on how to improve the nation's capital.

Recently, the Open Ministry project has introduced legislation to change Finland's copyright laws. The Internet activists in Finland state, “We want a fair and just copyright law in Finland.” Finland is known for extreme copyright laws and the Open Ministry project is allowing the people to adjust those laws. My question is, why can’t the United States of America create a similar project for its citizens?

In Finland, the Open Ministry is a non-profit that “is about crowdsourcing legislation, deliberative and participatory democracy and citizens initiatives.” In the U.S., Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced as a response to the SOPA legislation the OPEN (Online Protection and ENforcement of Digital Trade) Act. Ideas for the act were crowdsourced online at KeepTheWebOPEN.com, resulting in six ideas being incorporated into the Act. The OPEN Act, according Issa’s office, was “the first ever legislative markup truly open to the American public.”

According to Issa himself, “…the introduced version of the OPEN Act is proof that crowdsourcing can deliver better bills and a more accountable government.” That is something the crowdsourcing industry has known all along, but there has not been much pressure on the federal government to allow this type of citizen-driven democracy on a wider scale.

Wider implementation of citizen-driven legislative initiatives could:

  • Balance the power given to corporate driven legislative bills
  • Hold federally elected officials accountable to their constituents
  • Create a national dialogue and advancement of citizen-driven politics

Crowdsourcing is the future of democracy. Visionaries in Congress like Issa and Wyden can make it happen. The problem is that crowdsourcing in government is so new that it's not yet accepted on a wide scale, and many leaders may be scared of the impact it could have. But if America followed a similar protocol as Finland or Iceland, there could be a democratic institutional merit to this new tool.

Ronald Reagan said, “All great change in America begins at the dinner table.” He was right, and one can see that this change to a citizen-driven crowdsourcing of legislation will not happen unless there is an orchestrated effort on behalf of the crowdsourcing industry.

Let’s be realistic though – in order for a federally adopted program it must start out small. Let’s begin by asking municipalities in our government to start an open innovation crowdsourcing program for the city. Then, as it becomes engaging and proven positive for local government, implement it on a state level, and finally begin on a national level. What do you think are the best steps for this to happen?

Dustin DeMoss is a U.S. military veteran interested in how crowdsourcing can revolutionize democratic society. He has a bachelor's in international relations from American Military University and recently wrote the ebook The Rise of Crowdsourced Politics.

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  • Guest Joy Case Feb 20, 2013 01:45 am GMT

    I am passionately committed to the evolution of democracy through crowdsourcing. My mission is to help encourage a Global Think Tank through An Idea Nation to self organize using the tools of crowdsourcing and crowdfunding within 8 Global Priorities. As global citizens come together through communities of conversation on Google+, we deconstruct ideologies / practices that aren't serving us and re-build new improved systems and institutions that work. Our particular focus is on social innovation to equip entrepreneurs for social enterprise. If curious, please follow our activity on Facebook. Thank you.

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/An-Idea-Nation-Global-Think-Tank/175295599261414

  • Dustin DeMoss Dustin DeMoss Feb 20, 2013 06:13 am GMT

    Thank you for your passion Joy. It's an awesome idea. Visionaries such as yourself are changing the structure of democratic society. The iconoclast's of the old world will have much trouble in this new paradigm of government. Keep up the awesome work!

  • Guest Gerald May 04, 2014 05:17 pm GMT

    I love this article, it provides hope and solutions for a corrupt and off-focus government.
    I am using this to write a paper on how crowdsourcing will, and is revolutionizing government in a beneficial way.
    My only critic, which isn't really one at all, is that it is quite unclear who wrote this. Did Dustin DeMoss write this? Did someone summarize what he wrote? Is it an excerpt from his book? Please tell me so I can give credit where it is due.

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