December 6th, 2023
Washington, DC, USA
Dearest Civic Steward,
We, the undersigned members of the public and the OpenCivics Consortium, a decentralized network of civic innovators, builders, researchers, technologists, and community practitioners, offer the following innovations in service of government of, by and for the people in the 21st century. We believe that the fundamental principles of self-determination, stewardship, decentralization and, therefore, the application of decentralized technologies, are aligned with the original promise of America, a nation defined by its global leadership in the pursuit of a more perfect democracy.
We believe decentralization and systemic civic innovation can cut through partisan gridlock and restore faith in our institutions of government. We believe that this approach can appeal to members of both major political parties as well as political independents and third party representatives who are desperate for a path out of vitriolic and divisive rhetoric and towards solutions and innovation. We devote ourselves to the application of decentralized technology and innovation to deliver upon the original promise of America, and we look forward to working with legislators, bureaucrats, local representatives, community leaders, and innovators to reimagine government of, by, and for the people.
“Government of the people” signifies the promise of a democracy that originates from the will of citizens, rather than issued from some external source. “Government by the people” signifies the promise of a democracy that is deployed and fulfilled by the participation of all citizens. “Government for the people” signifies the promise of a democracy that exists to serve the best interest of all its citizens.
In each of these promises, decentralized civics is a methodology and paradigm by which a post-partisan, process-oriented approach to innovation can cut across the divides of our nation and create an America 2.0 that better represents the needs, desires, and perspectives of all citizens. Decentralized Civics uses innovations in distributed ledger technology (blockchain), peer-to-peer technology, and encryption to deliver on the promise of democracy while addressing the pressing challenges and existential risks of our generation. Decentralized Civics invites and enrolls the rising generation of Americans in a renewed sense of hope and participation in our world by creating opportunities for leadership, learning, stewardship, and responsibility for the well-being of our communities, States, and Nation.
The following declaration and open letter is written by OpenCivics Steward, Benjamin Life, and is signed by members of the Consortium and public who align with its stated goals. We hope that this post-partisan spirit of innovation, collaboration, and possibility cuts through the entrenched partisan narratives and loss of faith that have come to define the public’s relationship with our current political discourse. Decentralized Civics invokes a civic renaissance of participation and stewardship in the creation of America 2.0.
Part One: Government Of The People
Decentralized voting systems can enable secure, transparent, and verifiable elections that are resistant to fraud, manipulation, and censorship. By using blockchain technology, voters can cast their ballots digitally, securely, and, with the right technology components, anonymously, without relying on intermediaries or centralized authorities. Blockchain voting can also reduce the cost and complexity of conducting elections, and increase voter turnout and accessibility. Some examples of decentralized voting platforms are Voatz and Vocdoni.
Decentralized identity systems are essential components of any civic technology, particularly voting, because they enable secure digital identities that can be linked to official government documents while preserving privacy and anonymous voting. Truly decentralized identity can empower citizens to own and control their own digital identities, without depending on centralized entities or intermediaries. By using self-sovereign identity (SSI) or zero knowledge (ZK) protocols, citizens can create and manage their own identifiers and credentials, and share them selectively and securely with others. Decentralized identity can also enhance privacy, security, and trust in online interactions, and enable access to various services and benefits, reducing hate speech and misinformation online. Some examples of decentralized identity platforms are Civic, Sovrin, and Holonymn.
Campaigning & Advocacy
Decentralized campaigning systems can enable more participatory, transparent, and accountable political processes by leveraging the power of web3 and blockchain technologies to engage supporters, volunteers, and constituents in the campaigning process through rewards, badges, and training. By using decentralized applications (DApps), citizens can engage in various forms of political activism, such as donating, fundraising, organizing, petitioning, lobbying, and advocating. Decentralized campaigning can also reduce the influence of money and special interests in politics, and increase the diversity and representation of voices and opinions by making it easier for community leaders to run for office. Some examples of decentralized campaigning platforms are pact.social, Juice Box, Aragon, and Colony.
Decentralized polling systems can enable more accurate, reliable, and timely public opinion surveys, by using blockchain technology and smart contracts. Smart contracts are self-executing code that operate based on predefined rules. This essential civic infrastructure would allow citizens to provide verifiable and trustworthy data sources for various questions and topics, and receive incentives for their participation. Decentralized polling can also reduce the bias and error in traditional polling methods, and increase the responsiveness and relevance of policy-making and governance.
Part Two: Government By The People
Decentralized civic engagement systems can enable more active, informed, and responsible citizenship, by using web3 and blockchain technologies to facilitate various forms of direct local civic participation. By using DApps, citizens can access and contribute to various public goods and services, such as education, health, environment, culture, and social welfare. Decentralized civic engagement can also foster a sense of community, belonging, and solidarity among citizens, and increase the resilience of society. By mobilizing a community to participate in the stewardship of their local needs and services, government spending can be decreased as the community depends less on government services and more on peer support. Some examples of decentralized civic engagement are Bloom Network, Commons Stack, and cityDAO Network.
Neighborhood & community networks
Decentralized neighborhood and community networks can enable more local, autonomous, and cooperative forms of governance and organization, by using peer-to-peer and blockchain technologies to connect and coordinate citizens at the grassroots level. By using DApps, citizens can create and join various types of local groups and communities, such as cooperatives, mutual aid networks, neighborhood associations, and local currencies. Decentralized neighborhood and community networks can also enhance the social and economic well-being of citizens, and increase the self-reliance and sustainability of local areas. Some examples of decentralized and community platforms are Bloom Network, Hylo, Symbiotic Culture Labs, and Neighbourhoods.
Decentralized citizen assemblies can enable more deliberative, inclusive, and representative forms of democracy, by using blockchain technology and smart contracts to facilitate various forms of collective decision-making and problem-solving. By using DApps, citizens can participate in various types of citizen assemblies, such as sortition, liquid democracy, and quadratic voting. Decentralized citizen assemblies can also improve the quality and legitimacy of democratic outcomes, and increase the accountability and responsiveness of public officials and institutions. Some examples of decentralized citizen assemblies are vTaiwan, PeoplePower.TV, and Assemble America.
Part Three: Government For The People
Open Data, Open Contacts, and Open Standards
Open data and data standards, stored efficiently, privately encrypted, and easily auditable on a blockchain, enable government services and information to be more transparent and accountable to the public. By integrating regulatory frameworks into data architectures and easily audited decentralized ledgers, the provisioning and efficacy of government services could be expanded while reducing costs and enabling intergovernmental collaboration. Moving government data onto blockchains would empower government contractors, non-profit organizations, and bureaucrats to more effectively provide services and make bids for contracts.
Worker cooperatives & local economies
Decentralized worker cooperatives and local economies can enable more equitable, democratic, and sustainable forms of production and consumption, by using web3 and blockchain technologies to support various forms of economic cooperation and innovation. By using Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs), citizens can create and join various types of worker cooperatives and local economies, such as platform cooperatives, social enterprises, community-supported agriculture, and local exchange trading systems. Decentralized worker cooperatives and local economies can also enhance the economic security and prosperity of citizens, and increase the resilience and diversity of local economies.
Decentralized unions can enable more effective, transparent, and accountable forms of collective bargaining and representation, by using blockchain technology and smart contracts to facilitate various forms of labor organization and action without having to choose between corrupt institutions or a lack of collective power. By using DAOs, citizens can create and join various types of unions, such as freelancer unions, platform worker unions, and digital labor unions. Decentralized unions can also improve the working conditions and rights of workers, and increase the bargaining power and voice of labor through transparent, accountable, and democratic processes. An example of decentralized union platforms is Opolis.
Real-time sense-making and education
Decentralized sense-making and education systems can enable more accurate, relevant, and accessible forms of knowledge creation and dissemination, by using web3 and blockchain technologies to peer-to-peer validate and facilitate various forms of learning, research, and content moderation. By using DAOs, citizens can access and contribute to various sources of information and education, such as open data, open science, open education, and open journalism. Decentralized sense-making and education can also enhance the cognitive and creative abilities of citizens. Some examples of decentralized sense-making and education platforms are Society Library, Goodly Labs, and Everipedia.
Ecological stewardship and externality pricing
Decentralized ecological stewardship systems can enable more responsible, sustainable, and regenerative forms of environmental management and conservation by using web3 and blockchain technologies to facilitate various forms of ecological action and innovation without relying on government overreach. By using DAOs, citizens can access and contribute to various forms of environmental goods and services, such as carbon credits, renewable energy, biodiversity, and waste management. By pricing environmental externalities and creating compensation mechanisms for rewarding stewardship of ecosystem services, decentralized ecological stewardship can enhance the environmental quality and health of citizens and increase the resilience and diversity of natural ecosystems. Example of decentralized ecological stewardship platforms are Regen Network and BasinDAO.
We live in a time of unprecedented challenges and opportunities, where the fate of our civilization and our planet depends on our collective ability to innovate, cooperate, and adapt. However, we also live in a time of deep polarization and fragmentation, where the ideologies of the left and right prevent us from finding common ground and working together for the common good. We believe that this is not only a political problem but a systemic problem, where the processes and systems that govern our society are no longer fit for purpose and need to be upgraded.
This is why we propose Decentralized Civics as a new paradigm and methodology for creating government of, by, and for the people. Decentralized Civics is not about choosing sides or imposing agendas but about creating the conditions and tools for citizens to participate, collaborate, and innovate in the civic space. Decentralized Civics is not about competing for power or resources but about sharing and distributing them in a fair and efficient way. Decentralized Civics is not about imposing solutions or outcomes but about enabling experimentation, localization and peer-to-peer learning.
Decentralized Civics is based on the principles and technologies of decentralization, web3, and blockchain, which offer new possibilities and potentials for civic innovation and transformation. By using these technologies, we can create more secure, transparent, and verifiable systems that enhance trust and accountability. By using these technologies, we can create more participatory, inclusive, and representative systems that enhance diversity and legitimacy. Decentralized Civics provides the tools to create more responsive, adaptive, and resilient systems that enhance innovation and sustainability.
We believe that Decentralized Civics is not only a desirable and feasible vision, but also a necessary and urgent one. We believe that there is a growing demand and appetite for deep post-partisan change among the American public, who are tired of the status quo and hungry for a new way of doing things. We believe that Decentralized Civics is a process by which we can unite and mobilize the collective intelligence, creativity, and will of the American people to create a better future for ourselves and our posterity.
We invite you to join us in this civic renaissance to create America 2.0.
The Undersigned Members of the OpenCivics Consortium and Public
To learn more, visit www.opencivics.co.