EDemocracy U.S.
Draft Mission 
and Goals

This is a draft. 
Please submit 
your comments.


E-Democracy = 

e-democracy =
the concept of
electronic democracy

Draft 1.2

E-Democracy.Org Core Beliefs

E-Democracy is different. E-Democracy's mission is ideologically and advocacy neutral. We are building the platform for democracy in the information age from the citizen's perspective. 

E-Democracy represents a new and innovative approach that is fundamentally of the information age and not simply "politics as usual" on the Internet. We believe that the current use of the Internet by existing democratics actors, including the media, governments and political interests, despite some good intentions, is accelerating our current path - democratic decline. Citizen intervention is required to save democracy from the unintended negative consequences of the information age and existing democratic divides by strategically using ICT tools with citizen inspired democratic intent. 

If your goal, to the exclusion of non-partisan activities, is to advocate a specific agenda, challenge your political opponents, or represent an existing democratic institution online, then you are a primary user of E-Democracy. As an "e-citizen," you are a welcome participant.  We are building E-Democracy for you, and all those who want have a voice and shape the world in which they live.

However, as an active citizen, if you see greater possibilities for the democratic use of the Internet and ICTs (information and communications technologies), please join us as an E-Democracy builder

By articulating our vision and beliefs we hope that our approach engages you. We hope that it will prompt you to ask the question, "What can I do?" And lead you to join our democratic mission for the 21st century.

In order to build and exercise public trust, E-Democracy's mission and goals are supported by the following public beliefs:

1. Using ICTs with Democratic Intent are Highly Effective - Participation in democracy and public life is substantially improved with the effective use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and strategies.  ICTs help busy citizens build and sustain their involvement on their own time, from anywhere. Traditional forms of democratic participation are hindered by exclusionary barriers of time and place.  

As a complement to cherished "in-person" forms of participation, ICTs can encourage effective, significant, and sustained citizen involvement in today's busy world.  Today, ICTs capture existing sparks of political interest primarily among those already political engaged.  Building realistically from this core "who show up," E-Democracy is working to ensure that ICTs will generate new sparks of political passion that can be turned into flames of civic energy for more citizens.

2. Led by Active Citizens, For All Citizens through E-Democracy.Org - Active citizens with diverse political views and backgrounds can work together to fundamentally improve their local communities, regions, nations, and world. Excessive partisanship and social divisions highlighted in our daily media and online experiences will not stop diverse and committed citizens from working together to build efforts that use ICTs in the common interest. 

Through E-Democracy, active citizens can ensure that all citizens in their communities and nations have access to opportunities that help them become more informed about and engaged with public issues, government, media, as well as the political ideas and passions of their fellow citizens.

3. Useful Public Information and Civic Education is Essential - Based on where they live and vote, citizens need access to public policy, political, election, government, media and civil society information resources that are presented in a balanced and easy to use manner. Citizens around the world need quick navigation paths to high quality and diverse information sources that help them become more educated, informed and interactive with their fellow citizens and democratic institutions.  

Existing information sources must be promoted and used. They must be made significantly more usable, become accessible through multiple techologies, and reused creatively.  New forms of distributed content generation and distribution are required to provide current, accurate, and reliable access to the essential information required for democracy to survive the information age.  The use of public information creates civic life when people can openly exchange, discuss, and offer their own alternative sources.

4. Dynamic Online Discussions of Public Issues Are Required - Many-to-many communication is what ICTs offer to democracy that is fundamentally unique and powerful. One-way political information broadcast models dominate most institutional and many individual-led uses of the Internet. To counter this one-way approach, issue-based online conversations are required to effectively enhance diverse citizen participation. 

Our direct experience leads us to believe that a universal foundation for online civic discourse based on geography and topical information exchange is absolutely essential to raise citizen voices and encourage diverse voices in the public agenda-setting process, build social trust, and promote government, media, and political accountability. Forms of online consultation, events, and deliberation (increasingly hosted by governments, the media, and others) as well as online public collaboration will only be cost-effective when the skills of e-citizenship are widely distributed - we are the egg, without which we will only have genetically engineered chickens. 

Our non-partisan citizen-based universal interactive foundation is the innovation offered by the information age that will make communities and governance relevant and responsive to today's challenges. In well wired communities, regions, and nations, we cannot imagine a vibrant democracy without this citizen-based foundation. Can you? 

5. With Rights and Responsibilities for All Participants - Today citizens can and do choose media sources which reinforce their existing views. This has replaced in-person and previous mass media experiences that brought people with diverse perspectives together. 

E-Democracy's non-partisan hosting and forum facilitation models reverses the negative trend of political isolation by rebuilding diverse public spheres online.  Each E-Democracy-sponsored online commons must function like a citizen assembly or town hall meeting and be approachable like a letter-to-editor section or neighborhood cafe. Participants must have rights and responsibilities.  This includes respect and a willingness to stand publicly behind one's own words.  

Our powers as hosts and facilitators must be articulated and limited. Ulitimately, forums must connect to a sense of "real" politics and community.  We believe all participants must be able to participate equally as citizens, including political leaders and journalists, with no group of participants having special status or obligations. The forum's influence, relevance, and reach should be the primary attractor to participation and the forse which encourages respectful discourse among members. The forum facilitator or manager's role is keep the forum focused on its purpose or charter, ensure civility, and mediate the inevitable clash of participant rights and responsibilities. 

Only forums which meet basic standards and achieve community relevancy justify their ongoing non-profit, citizen-based support through E-Democracy or they are just like the other 99 percent of political forums across the Internet completely disconnected from reality.

6. Future of E-Democracy will be Built from the Local Level Up to National and Global Networks - Active citizens will work together when and where they can experience and measure the results of their involvement.  The most cost effective investment of time and resources comes from community-based efforts that build from local level on up.  Any political website can claim to be national or global, but such top-down approaches have limited value and rarely reach critical mass awareness such that they take on an agena-setting role in governance and democracy. Most are disconnected from the real sense of geography which is the basis of all functioning representative democracies.  

Within E-Democracy, regional (state/provincial), national, even global projects can be developed with specific democratic goals, but only if they also channel e-citizens into local forums or help foster new local grass roots E-Democracy activity.  Further, a movement for citizen-based e-democracy will only grow if "of the community" local chapters and initiatives are formally connected via regional, national, and global networks and associations. 

The vast majority of E-Democracy efforts, particularly at the local level, must remain fundamentally volunteer-based to be sustainable. Based on emerging citizens interest, to extend our model to more places, financial, staff, outreach, and training support will be essential.  E-Democracy's institutional capacity must be developed and funded or it will not scale despite its well established sustainability.

7. The Default is Democratic Decline, Help Us Reverse It - Bad news ... early on, many people felt that the Internet was inherently democratic and that good outcomes would come naturally without much effort.  Many hoped that an ICT-fostered democratic wave would sweep the world. Since our launch in 1994, E-Democracy has never made that claim.  Now the opposite is true.  Many are discounting the Internet's potential based in large part on the one-way online activities of existing political interests and other's past hype.  We are the middle evolutionist path.  

E-Democracy puts the citizen first.  We add the democratic intent required to transform citizen engagement in the information age. Our ten years of experience of what works and what doesn't, is ready to be shared and extended to any group of citizens ready to make a difference. To not act, in your local community, state/province or nation, is to accept existing and ICT-accelerated democratic decline.  We have decided to be citizens.  We will work to ensure that the will of the people can be expressed and accomodated in the information-age. Join us.


These core beliefs are based on our mission and will be acted upon through our detailed goals and objectives.