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No Political Parties

I will start this TDG lesson with a little history. Most of the founding fathers of the American Constitution had a disdain for political parties. They saw how the British Members of Parliament were voting more for the benefit of their party than for their country. The fathers wanted to do away with political parties.

Rather, the fathers wanted the American elected representatives to think independently from partisan interests. They wanted to see representatives have a good discussion and debate, followed by a vote. The representatives would either vote their conscience or for the people who elected them. The minority would then yield to the majority decision.

As we know, non-partisanship did not turn out well in American early history. There were too many overly ambitious Americans wanting to run government than there were spots to serve in government. So, these spots became very competitive. Factions started forming in George Washington’s tenure. What these factions discovered was that when similar-thinking representatives unite—giving the impression of a common front—the factions had a much better chance of being elected than independent representatives did. So, the parties took form. They matured about 1820. The USA has not looked away from parties ever since.

The new American parties force elected representatives to consider the needs of the party before the needs of country or the needs of people that elected them—just like the founding fathers had predicted.

What the founding fathers could not create was a mechanism to prevent the formation of the parties. Democracy was fairly new at that time—and maybe it was just not possible to steer democracy in a party-less way in 1789.

Tiered Democratic Governance is an alternative democracy that does away with all political parties. But if history repeats itself, then it is logical that political parties will form in the TDG as it too matures.

The TDG has some unique design features to prevent the formation of political parties.

The first feature is the granulated nature of the TDG. The first-tier electoral districts will comprise about 200 residents, who will elect one of their own as their representatives.

In my part of Canada, federal constituencies have about 100,000 voters. Provincial constituencies have about 40,000. At both levels of government, the parties set up constituency boards to manage the affairs of the party in that constituency. These boards have about 20 committed party members who meet and discuss how to win the next local elections. These boards are important for electoral success.

In the TDG, it will be difficult to find 20 party members in those 200-resident TDG neighborhoods, let alone 20 experienced party members. In other words, the party’s resources are spread quite thin with smaller electoral units. It will be impossible for the parties to organize in all these local TDGs as they do in constituencies with tens of thousands of voters.

More importantly, it will be hard for the parties to find credible candidates in most TDG neighborhoods. If the party nominates a turkey to represent it in the neighborhood election, that turkey cannot hide behind the party banner and still have a good chance of being elected in the neighborhood. Neighbors will know the candidate is a turkey.

The best way to stop the formation of political parties in the TDG is to get a handle on campaigning, which I talked about in a previous article. Campaigning, if unchecked, will lead to political factions, which then leads to political parties. This is why the early USA could not keep its non-partisan system of governance. They did not have the voting mechanisms to cast aside those overly ambitious people who craved status, influence, and power—and campaigned like crazy to achieve those ambitions. The early American democracy did not make the lower-level electoral districts small enough. 

Yes, there will be some TDG members who want the job of TDG representative a little too much. So, they will campaign. But rather than having some rules about campaigning and enforcing those rules, the TDG members themselves need to be educated about the perils of campaigning. They should not vote for members who seem to be doing that. In this way, the campaigners will not be rewarded with an electoral victory.

Yes, there will be a few campaigners who still win first-tier elections. If so, the TDG’s executive committee will need to take a stronger position in educating its members about not voting for campaigners in the next election. Yes, campaigners who won the elections will still have full right to attend and participate in first-tier TDG meetings. But they should still be in a minority and will not be able to turn the higher TDG elections into campaigning contests. Expect a little democratic conflict as campaigners try to get their way. But let education, not rules, be the predominate method of keeping campaigning away from the TDG.

There is one more tool to prevent campaigning, factions, and political parties from becoming too strong. Each TDG has the informal option to unofficially dissolve itself. Assume a factional takeover of a TDG. The faction has a majority of the executive committee. Many of the TDG’s members won’t like the factionalized TDG. They can resign their membership and build another TDG, covering the same geographical area as their rival. This new TDG will still have the TDG spirit intact and better experience to thwart campaigning and factions. With the more reasonable TDGers gone, the old TDG will just become a partisan cheer section. It will not attract new members. It will lose alliances with other TDGs. This old TDG will wither and die.

But it’s best not to resort to dissolving a TDG in this way. Remember, no campaigning leads to no political parties.

It is so important for the early TDG builders to set up that right culture. That is perhaps their most important job. Their work will last for centuries.

Published on Medium 2021

No Campaigning

Life Inside a Political Party