Douglas Carswell

20 NOV 2015

The new politics is digital

Politics is changing. Across the democratic world, establishment elites are losing the trust of the people. Insurgents – from Donald Trump to Alexis Tsipras – are on the rise. But real change won't come from messiahs, but from modernity.

Innovators in California have launched a new website that gives a taste of the future. Called Crowdpac, the site uses data from voting records, speeches, and political donations to give a comprehensive picture of the stances of American politicians on a range of key issues. Voters can use Crowdpac to match their views to the candidate they most agree with. It's the political equivalent of online dating.

Crowdpac is not the first website to match voters with politicians, but it offers new depth. In particular, it highlights the influence of lobbying. By digging down into the political interests of rich donors, it gives a much greater guide than other sites as to the likely policy positions of the candidates they support. Its aim is ambitious: to "help end the stranglehold of big money donors and special interests on the political system."

Cronyism rightly angers electorates more than anything else. It's why many don't trust politicians. Voters know that partisan journalists won't give them the facts either – which is why many don't trust the media. Instead, voters are turning to outsiders whom they believe - or hope - can't be bought. In many cases, they will be disappointed.

Crowdpac offers a better way. By providing data directly to voters, it gives the public an insight into whom their elected representatives are really serving without the intermediation of any media spin. It will make politicians much more transparent - and much more accountable as a result. Crowdpac will help to restore trust in politics in the only way possible: by giving politicians an incentive to be trustworthy.

I believe Crowdpac is only the start. Three years ago, in my book The End of Politics and the Birth of iDemocracy, I predicted that the digital revolution would transform politics for the better, and restore power to the people. It's already happening. And it goes to show: progress – not pessimism – will defeat the political cartel.

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The End of Politics and the Birth of iDemocracy

"A revolutionary text ... right up there with the Communist manifesto" - Dominic Lawson, Sunday Times

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