Federal Election 2019: Meet VOTEFLUX.ORG | Upgrade Democracy!

Summary

Website: https://voteflux.org/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VoteFlux.org/
Slogans:
It’s time to fix Democracy.  Vote to Flux the system!
Themes: Direct democracy again, with everyone voting on every piece of legislation, and the Senator voting according to the majority – but this time you can trade your vote!
Electorate:
Upper House: NSW, VIC, WA
Lower House: Perth
Preferences: They don’t want to interfere with your right to direct democracy by providing a how to vote card.
Previous reviews

Policies & Commentary

Why do we have not one, but two political parties on the ballot whose stated goal is to just vote whatever the majority tells them on every policy?  It’s a mystery.

Flux wants you to know that

Flux is Australia’s most transparent political party.

When did our politics become so broken? Things must change. Flux is your way to participate directly in parliament. Empowering people in government decisions directly through technology. Let’s break up the party politics, end the gridlock and return the power to where it belongs – you.

Ah yes, politics is broken.  I must be reading the page of a tiny Australian political party.

The bit about transparency, incidentally, leads you to a page explaining how and why Flux is transparent.  The how includes things like publishing memberships and donations on their website in real time, which… yes, actually why aren’t more political parties publishing donations in real time?  Because now I think about it, every time I donate to someone’s fundraiser online, it publishes my name and the amount of my donation immediately unless I tell it not to.  This is clearly not difficult technology.

We do these things because our morality compels us; we cannot be satisfied with ourselves if we were to hide these numbers. It is a shame such values are not taken as serious or important by the major parties in Australia. This means they care about some things more than morality, and thus must sometimes do things they believe are not moral….

Wow, italics *and* bold.  Clearly, they feel very strongly about this.

When considering who to vote for, at the upcoming NSW elections and beyond, I request you ask yourself: “Is the morality of the Parties I vote for important? Is it important that they act with integrity and in line with their values? Are their values of the sort that would encourage transparency, discussion, error correction, and tolerance? Should I talk to my friends, colleagues, and family about these things? Should we, as a society, consider our moral values above all else? If we sometimes do things for other reasons, doesn’t that mean we sometimes do things we do not think are moral? Do my representatives think and say these things? Do they act with an integrity reflecting good values? Do I act with the same integrity? How does my vote reflect that?”

These are all important things to consider, but I’m not sure how it is relevant for a party that is literally going to vote according to what the majority of people tell it to do.  The personal values and morality of the senators is essentially immaterial at that point, because presumably if the majority of Australians voted in favour of something the FLUX Senators considered immoral, they would still have to follow the will of the people.  And if they didn’t… then suddenly, they are behaving like every other independent senator in following their conscience.

The FLUX founders seem like lovely, thoughtful people, who haven’t quite thought through the implications of their platform.  That, or they are the kind of beautiful optimists who believe that deep down, everyone is as caring and accepting as they are.  (I was one of those people once.  Then I started writing a politics blog.)  For their sake, I truly hope that they never have cause to think differently… but I feel that this level of faith in humanity might be a little bit of a liability if you are planning a career in politics.

Coming back to earth a little, their About page tells us that

Flux is a gateway Australians can use, to participate directly in parliament, making the need for trust in elected officials a thing of the past. Elected Flux MPs and Senators give up their autonomy and use their votes in line with the outcomes produced by the Flux ecosystem; an ecosystem comprised of ordinary Aussies like you.

We are then directed to several links about why Australia needs Flux, how Flux works, and so forth.  Each page has a slightly different combination of links, which is making me a little crazy.  The Why is largely that they feel that Democracy in its current form is outdated.

You wouldn’t use the same operating system for 400 years would you?

Democracy is no different. Parliament is a 19th century power structure that no longer works in the modern age. The system needs to process more information every day than one could read in a lifetime. The demands for governmental specialisation and decentralisation have never been higher. Yet the gridlocks of lobbyists, party politics and hesitation block up the system. That’s why it’s time for an upgrade.

(That’s… not actually 400 years, lads.)

But let us move on to how FLUX’s system will work, because it’s actually a bit different to our other Direct Democracy folk.

In the FLUX system, every Australian gets one vote on every issue, and these votes are tradable.  So if you don’t care about an issue, you can trade away your votes and hoard the ones you receive in exchange for a later vote.  Or alternatively, you can give your vote to someone who has more knowledge or more of a stake in the matter:

Each of us has a special set of skills, talents and passions. For governance, this means that some of us are best suited to making decisions on specific things, which is why Flux allows participants the option to pass their voting power to someone they trust, whom they feel is better able to cast their vote. This could be a friend, a community organisation, an activist or even one of the established political parties. This is what we call democracy – the choice is yours.

They feel that this method of voting is superior, because it empowers specialists, stops backroom deals and ends corruption.

See, I think this is a lovely idea in theory.  Politicians don’t all have personal experience or expertise in every area they are legislating.  (This is, of course, why they have advisors, but never mind that.)  Making it so that people with a real stake in an issue can potentially have more votes on that issue sounds good at first glance.  I’d love to hoard all my votes so that I could really put my weight behind getting refugees out of offshore processing, for example.  Or more funding for medical research or renewable energies.  This would obviously work brilliantly, because my judgment is sound and I should totally be in charge of Australia.

The trouble is, a lot of people think their judgment is sound and that they should be in charge of Australia, and unlike me, they are not correct in their beliefs.  Do I want right wing groups getting organised and hoarding votes to ban Muslim immigration? Conservative church groups getting organised and hoarding votes to permit discrimination against LGBTQIA people? The gun lobby hoarding votes to loosen gun restrictions? Or mining magnates hoarding votes to use against a carbon tax? No, I do not.  But if I can hoard my votes for a good cause, others can hoard theirs for terrible ones.

Also, how long would it take before people started offering money for votes on contentious topics?  Not long, I think.

But our lovely FLUX folk are the kind of idealists who are certain it will turn out for the best!  Their faith in humanity is touching, and I am an old cynic, evidently.  Here is their Values statement:

We value the contribution of every Australian, no matter how great or small. We believe in a system which promotes autonomy, purpose, and expertise, as means to deliver excellent policy.

We seek to dismantle political apathy, by empowering the disenfranchised, and motivating a new generation of innovative Australians to take responsibility for their society.

We value people, not some people, but all people, and recognise our differences as strengths, not weaknesses.

We believe in a free and open society, characterised by freedom of speech, freedom of association, and the free flow of political ideas.

This is beautiful, and I would love it if more politicians shared these values, in fact.  The problem is, FLUX aren’t running on these values.  They are running on a value of not actually holding any political opinions themselves and simply transferring the will of the majority to Parliament. And unfortunately, I don’t think the results they get will align with their kind, inclusive values.

But maybe that’s because I’ve been reading about too many racist political parties this week.

I’m not convinced that direct democracy is a good idea.  The majority isn’t always right, and you can’t necessarily trust that the people who actually do understand a policy will be the ones voting heavily on it.  And honestly direct democracy where you can trade votes sounds like a really dangerous plan.  I wasn’t convinced by Climate Action! Immigration Action! Accountable Politicians!, but at least they were attempting to actually educate voters, and they had some sensible restrictions, like minimum numbers of votes before a vote became valid.

This, though, is going to rapidly descend to the lowest common denominator.

If FLUX were running as independents, holding the values they hold and planning to vote accordingly, I’d put them high on my list.  I want more kind, accepting idealists in Parliament, even though I’m not sure it would be healthy for them in the long run – but who knows, maybe they could achieve change?  But I can’t vote for a group whose plan is to be a straw in the wind, blown hither and thither by the winds of populism.  FLUX is going to be joining the borderlands of my vote, between the harmless crazies and the harmful ones.

Eurovision Theme Song as determined by me, very objectively

I initially thought this one was going to be really tricky (especially as I foolishly used ‘Puppet on a String’ already), but it turns out that Moldova’s singer in 2014 actually uses the stage name ‘Flux Light’.  And her performance involves neon dresses and a man with an old boxy computer for a head playing the keyboard.  It’s very high-tech, the lyrics are idealistic, and the entire performance is just a little bit ill-advised.

Kind of like FLUX, really.

 

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