The National Initiative for Democracy


“Let the People Decide”

The central power of government in a democracy is lawmaking –– not voting. Those who make the laws determine how, when, and if voters can vote. Florida and Ohio are but recent examples. Governments throughout history have been tools of oppression; they need not be. American citizens can gain control of their government by becoming lawmakers and turning its purpose to public benefit, and stemming government growth––the people are more conservative than their elected officials regardless of political party.

Are the people qualified enough to make laws directly to govern their lives? They’re qualified enough on Election Day to give their power away to political candidates who manipulate the electoral process to get elected. In fact, it’s easier to decide one’s self-interest directly than it is to guess the mind of a representative who will naturally put his or her self-interest first.

More than 70% of the voters already make laws by initiative in twenty-four states and in numerous local communities, and when voting on bond issues referred to them for decision by their representatives––serious lawmaking. American voters have made laws for the last 100 years and their record is as good as their elected legislators––with respect to fiscal matters, the people’s record is far superior.

How do Americans become lawmakers? The Congress is not likely to dilute its power by empowering the people as lawmakers. Therefore, the people themselves must enact the National Initiative for Democracy, a proposed law that empowers them as lawmakers.

The National Initiative is a legislative package sponsored by The Democracy Foundation (, a non-profit IRS 501 C (3) corporation that includes an Amendment to the Constitution and a Federal Statute. The Democracy Amendment 1) amends the Constitution asserting the legislative powers of the people, 2) sanctions the national election conducted by the nonprofit corporation Philadelphia II, giving Americans the opportunity to vote on the National Initiative, 3) creates an Electoral Trust (vital to maintain citizen lawmaking independent of representatives) and defines the role of its trustees, and 4) outlaws the use of monies not from natural persons in initiative elections.

The Democracy Act is a proposed federal statute that 1) sets out deliberative legislative procedures (copied from Congress) to be used for initiative lawmaking by citizens in every government jurisdiction of the United States, 2) defines the limited powers of the Electoral Trust that administers the legislative procedures on behalf of the people, and 3) defines the electoral threshold that must be reached for the National Initiative to become the law of the land. It is important to understand that the National Initiative does not alter the existing structure or powers of representative governments. Rather, it adds an additional Check –– the People –– to our system of Checks and Balances, while setting up a working partnership between the people and their elected representatives.

How can American voters amend the Constitution and enact the National Initiative if Congress opposes it? The people must go around all three branches of government to amend the Constitution. There are only two venues within our government structure where constitutions, constitutional amendments, and laws can be enacted into law: the people or their elected representatives. The Framers in Article 7 of the Constitution provided a procedure for We, the People to ratify the Constitution and thereby create our government, but failed to provide procedures for the people to alter the Constitution, even though they repeatedly said the people had the right to change their government as they saw fit. However, the Framers did provide amending procedures for themselves in Article V, thereby perpetuating control of government be elites.

Conventional wisdom now holds that Article V is the only way to amend the Constitution. Article V is how the government amends the Constitution, not how the people do it. If the people had to use Article V to amend the Constitution they would need permission from two-thirds of the Congress and three-fourths of the state legislatures. This would mean that the creator of our government, the people, would have to get permission from their elected representatives, the createes of the people, to amend the Constitution. This logic is ludicrous. The constituent power of the people––the source of all political power––cannot be subject to the power of its creation.

James Madison had it right when he said that the people could just do it. The people can amend the Constitution and make laws as long as the process they employ is fair, transparent and reasonable. The National Initiative, the ongoing people’s legislative procedures, is just that and the national election conducted by Philadelphia II to enact the National Initiative under the precedent of Article 7 is fair, transparent and reasonable. Today’s communication technology permits us to ask all American citizens if they wish to be empowered as lawmakers and if a majority of voters who voted in the last presidential election so affirm–– regardless of the view of those in government––then the National Initiative becomes the law of the land

If Americans wish to be empowered as lawmakers and truly have a government “by the People” they must go to the Democracy Foundation’s web site: to learn about the National Initiative. Please support the effort with a tax deductible contributions.

The complete text of the National Initiative can also be found at:


An Older but Better Way?

I think the people would be better served by restoring what the Founders created. They had a unique way of bringing the power to the people, one that proponents of strong centralized power hated then and are ignoring now as a solution for Iraq's problems...independent States working together voluntarily as one. Yep. Good ol' States Rights...something that has been dying since the Southern States lost the Confederacy to the Northern States. There has been a great cover up. You ask a school child...even a Southern one...why the Civil War was fought. Most likely the answer would be to end slavery. Actually, the war was fought to limit the power of the Federal government over the States. Yes, return power to the people, but do so by returning the power to the States that the Founders intended them to have. Senators should be representatives of the State, not a popularly elected "super House". Cut back the funding of the Federal government and bring back individual financial privacy by ending the immoral practice of taxing a man's labor. The closer power is located to the individual, the more power the individual has. When the power of the State and the power of the Federal government is properly balanced, the popular views of the people of one State cannot trample the rights of the people in another. The Founder's original plan was genius. At every level there were checks and balances. Legislative checks on the Executive and Judicial branches, Executive checks on Judicial and Legislative branches, Judicial checks on Executive and Legislative powers, Checks between the State and Federal government, the Electoral College provides a check between regions of people, gun ownership provides a last resort check between people and their government, etc... Lets restore power to the people by restoring the Constitution.

The NI4D would create a new government tyranny.

Take a good hard look at the language of this bill. It will simply create a new government tyranny called The Electoral Trust. I go into the problems with this proposal here: part 1 part 2


For a far superior alternative, that would really create a government of, by, and for the people look at this:


Here I have the language for an alternative to the NI4D that is far more Democratic, and really does return the power to the people. I also go into an depth analysis of the language I propose. For anyone who has suggestions to make with my proposal, or thinks I left something out that should be included, PLEASE COMMENT and let me know!


Tyranny - Been There Done That

My friend, You make the same mistake as we all easily do having been raised and brain washed with the evolved methods and governance of this country. You take a concept like The Electoral Trust and project into and on to it the same faults and thinking that currently besets our Representative system.

It boggles my mind that this keeps coming up (have heard it over and over for the last 10 years) with the same references and fear. So we keep making the same mistakes over and over again. This of course is the definition of insanity because we expect different results

Do you mean to tell me that a group can't be organized to represent 'We The People' with full dedication and commitment to that job? We can go to the Moon and create ever increasing complex technologies but we can't organize ourselves under a new paradigm that shifts the focus to governance for and by the people. If we can’t do that and we can never trust any one or any well conceived group all we can do is just keep doing the same things we are doing now as there is no hope.

The same fear mongering is offered about initiatives. You can't trust the people because of this or that but an examination of that body of work shows that they have done at least as well and truth be know, they have done much better than elected officials. The problem with initiatives is that politicians still have too much power to influence them thwarting the desires of the people even as they try to evolve the system in their behalf.

We can 'form a more perfect union' as envisioned by our founders just as sure as we have the courage to open our minds and wills to do so. Representatives can not do that because of human nature.

In 2002 a Symposium of eminent panelist (PhDs, Lawyers, etc) came together and for 3 days every major issue concerning Ni4d was discussed and an even more serious vetting was started. This resulted in the Democracy Amendment and the Democracy Act. This series was taped and it is available on CDs if someone wants to take the time to hear what all the experts had to say. If you are interested, e-mail for info.

One of the reasons that Ni4d has been put together as it has is because it is reasonable to stand on the good ideas of those who went before and what works. It isn't that the US Congress is all wrong and that it hasn't advanced the potential and systems of making law that is the problem. So Senator Gravel took what is good from what went before and has (with endless hours of consultation and vetting) put together body of law the Ni4d team thinks has a chance of getting us started towards a new way of governing.

I just scanned the eighth article and with that mind I do not see any great benefit to going down this road. It isn’t that things can not be made better but I recommend you spend 10 years and have your ideas vetted and then come back and give us your wisdom to work with. Calling the formation of The Electoral Trust the next form a Tyranny is not true or beneficial and it confuses the issues.   It also shows just how much fear we have of each other.

Checks and Balances

I think that the main issue that he presents is correct though. There is too much language in there that isn't what the NI is about. Regardless of what the experts say, it is quite obvious that the bill itself can lead to quite a few abuses in a very short amount of time after its put into place. Your argument that "we need to stop afraid of each other" or something like that may be true, but it doesn't take out the imperative issue that there is no checks an balances to this system. We have already seen how people in this country abuse the laws that are passed.


Take the 14th Amendment for example. It was passed, with the intention to ensure rights to former black slaves.


However, it's led to something else.


Corporations. They're legal persons if you didn't know that, and they're huge just because the investors and the people in the corporation aren't being held accountable for their actions anymore. The corporations going bankcrupt? Oh that's no problem, IT's just going bankcrupt. WE the investors aren't. Because of the wording of the fourteenth amendment, regardless of its noble direction, was easily turned into something that causes things that are corrupting our society today.


Intention is not enough.


The wording of the NI4D NEEDS, i repeat, NEEDS to be revised.


(Can't say if the article eight is better; haven't read it yet)

the wording and the process

it has to have checks and balances within the system to insure it's fairness..


secondly everyones fears of the people going crazy with the right to make laws. listen


its very simple.


the only laws that will get passed are laws that everyone agrees with.


there for no craziness. no abuses. no one being shut out or exploited. its what everyone wants so its just.


its called having a jury. its called lawmaking. right now there are abuses being committed in the name of lawmaking that go miles beyond anything any American would try to put in place. Most Americans if allowed to vote would just vote for a sound budget. low spending. and peace and prosperity.


the only thing that stands in our way are republicans and democrats playing us against each other.

oh and for the critics of the language

Mike Gravel was in the house and the Senate and in the CIA. He's seen more carnage and more corruption and understands the purpous and the intent of government more then any of us. So we all need to check our egos at the door and realize that this man, this legend in his own time, has worked for over 15 YEARS with constitutional scholars across the country to draft this legislation. the reason why it's worded the way it is is precisely to PROTECT you from what you're afraid will happen. The reason why so many abuses have been permitted to happen in America is because of the vagueness in certain areas of the constitution. So if you're going to do something as serious as unleash the power of law making on All of America then you for damn sure better not allow there to be any back doors for the corporations to exploit like they do on state initiatives.

Veto Power

I believe this is definately a step in the correct direction; I would like to see 'the People' as perhaps the 3rd branch of the legislature, with veto-override consideration.

I am concerned, as a previous poster mentioned about giving the 'religious right' the power of majority rule...there still needs to be some oversight, by whom, I'm not sure; I'm not sure majority rule is correct, when it comes to taking away 'the people''s rights. I am a woman, and a Wiccan...I think that explains where I'm coming from completely.

40 percent of America's youth are athiest

the religious right are on their way out. We need not be afraid of them and their wicked theology of oppression. Plus most people in the religious right would agree with lefties that we need to cut spending and change the tax code.


plus you're forgetting something. They live next door. Just talk to them. try to reason it out to them that you're not really FOR abortion you just want the procedure done in a safe environment. that you're not protecting terrorists you just understand the pitfalls and the disgrace knowing that we as a nation now torture prisoners.


the radical right are a vey small minority. they're just more vocal then other minorities so they seem bigger then they are.


and the most important thing to remember so that you wont be afraid of the radical right having the right to make laws is that the only laws that will get passed are ones that the Majority of Americans agree on. there for Abortion will never be threatened by having a national intiiative because nobody agrees on that issue. and gay marriage wont even be an issue. and health care for the poor wouldnt be an issue. all these things the only thing thats preventing us from having them is CONGRESS! and then they blame the left or the right for it failing. they make the crap fail on purpous cuz then they still have an issue to play to their audience. Congress doesn't want us to have free health care cuz then they'd have to lower the cost. congress doesn't want to end the war in Iraq otherwise then they wouldnt get their ear mark projects forwarded. Congress doesn't want to stop raiding social security because thats the only thing thats giving them the cash to do their crooked deals they're doing right now!


It's not the radical right or the left. its CONGRESS and the corporate lobby's that control them.


Great idea!! I have always wondered why the american people just sit back and think i CAN'T change anything. I understand life gets tough and the way the system is now, they got us working 12 to 16 hour days just to get by. Gas prices out of control, food prices going up, our whole economic system is ready to tumble!!! But this is a chance for us to take control of these issues.. Right now in our system we have TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION!!!!!!! Why pay taxes when you are not properly represented?? With this we don't have to worry about this problem cause if they don't do their job "BAM" FIRED. It will also give us the oppurtunity to vote and pass issues important to average people. I have a great idea on how to spread the word for the NI. I am going to make 300 copies and put them on cars around my community, if everyone who likes the idea does the same maybe we can get the word out. I have faith we can do this!!!

Nice Idea...But

To compare state and local initiatives to what is proposed by the National Initiative is misleading. Most state and local initiatives are clear cut up or down questions. They usually require some research -- but not a lot -- "should the state have the death penalty" "should the state pass a balanced budget amendment" -- more often than not, they are gut check questions. In the states that use referendums and initiatives the citizens are not the legislators on all questions of law. To compare the record of past decisions made on limited state results with the larger repercussions of the National Initiative is, as I said, misleading.

If I understand this correctly, a Board of Trustees -- one elected member from each state -- will initiate elections which will enable a simple majority (50%+) to enact, repeal and amend public policy, laws, charters, and constitutions...?

Call me a skeptic, but seriously..?

Most people's knee jerk reaction to this suggestion would be..."hell yeah!" But if a thinking person considered what this actually entailed they would really hesitate jumping on the bandwagon.

First of all, you're asking me to accept another political candidate to deal with -- the Trustee. S/he will be the sole representative of my state who will join with the others to decide what initiatives, etc. will be put on the election cycle...this is assuming that the creators of this idea realize that not ALL legislation, etc. can be put to the public for a vote -- people would have to quit their jobs just to participate.

And the idea of a simple majority to decide such issues as laws, charters, and constitutions? Talk about mob rule! I am very happy that the US Constitution demands a three quarter majority for amendments -- who knows what it would look like after 200+ years of political changes in the country? Amendments to the Constitution are extremely important -- they should be supported by a super majority in order to truly show a national consensus. A simple majority just shows a divided citizenship

I'm sick of the Washington scam artists too. But I'm not comfortable with the idea that this initiative is the answer. At least when Washington pisses me off. I know who's at fault. But with mob rule, I might have to put up with some crappy things and I'll have to live with the fact that every day the person who jerked me over could be anyone on the street. Talk about a divided citizenry.

What I get from this is that the framers of this initiative are basically unhappy with the Constitution. They feel that it is an elitist document explaining a quaint political system which was designed to lock the power of the government into the hands of the few. This is a corrupt way of explaining representative government. It is not our form of government that is corrupt -- it is the people in the government that are corrupt.

I'm all for new ideas on how the citizen can become more empowered but this idea of mob rule makes me nervous. I'd hate to think that I wake up one morning and find some extremist religious crackpot group mobilized a simple majority to enact some kind of crazy law that I'll have to deal with.

Yes, we have similar “Let

Yes, we have similar “Let the People Decide” movemet too, here in Czech Republic. I bet Mr. Gravel did read it already at meeting on Pribram in 1998.

I do believe that the current level of IT is high enouht to permit making nation-wide election anytime,  when needed. It is very hot here in my country right now. Bush wants to install the huge military base with the misile radar here. And over 3/4 of all people is against it. In the real democratic country, they can make the nation wide referendum about it. Instead of few corrupted politics will decide about it.

If I was the American, I'd vote for Mr. Gravel.

Many greetings from Czechia

National (ballot) Initiative from a fan for 19 years

I've devoted my website to promoting Mike's National (ballot) Initiative for 7 years, and have worked for the idea since 1988. You should see the famous people who I've gotten to endorse it, from Patch Adams to Howard Zinn!

Yes, we have similar “Let

Yes, we have similar “Let the People Decide” movemet too, here in Czech Republic. I bet Mr. Gravel did read it already at meeting on Pribram in 1998.

I do believe that the current level of IT is high enouht to permit making nation-wide election anytime,  when needed. It is very hot here in my country right now. Bush wants to install the huge military base with the misile radar here. And over 3/4 of all people is against it. In the real democratic country, they can make the nation wide referendum about it. Instead of few corrupted politics will decide about it.

If I was the American, I'd vote for Mr. Gravel.

Many greetings from Czechia

This may be the first original and good idea I've heard

I think the first initiative I would table would be colluding between the big states to cast all electors for the winner of the national vote of all states instead of the electoral college that distortedly empowers small states, thus de facto forcing all states into a national popular vote without constitutional amendment.

Not likely to happen without national initiatives. Good idea!

Campaign Finance Reform

I'd never heard of your National Initiative for Democracy but I am certainly for power to the people.

My observation is this : money has corrupted our political system. The Supreme Court ruled that campaign contibutions are free speech so we are going to have to pass an amendment to return our government to the hands of the people.

Please take a look at The 28th Amendment and let me know what you think. The basic ideas are "If you cannot vote for the office in question you cannot contribute to a campaign contesting an election to the office." And "No one can contribute more than a week's pay at the minimum wage to any campaign, including the candidate." There's more, but check it out.

To get the 28th Amendment, you need the National Initiative!

These are fine ideas, jfi, but Congress is VERY unlikely to pass them. The People would vote for them in a heartbeat! So the general solution is to empower ourselves to propose and vote for ALL the good things we want.

Registered voters can now vote to ratify the National Initiative, just as Citizens, NOT the existing 13 State legislatures, ratified the Constitution at the conventions.


As With Most Things In Life, I Need Proof

We currently live in a country where the president publicly announces that he has conversations with a god. We live in a country of people mentally and physically controlled by the media.

Mr. Gravel says "people are qualified enough on Election Day to give their power away to political candidates who manipulate the electoral process to get elected." This means, to me, that the people never had the power in the first place. My question is this:

With power being introduced to the people, how can you prove they are qualified?

A few examples that question the peoples qualifications:

The majority of Americans are of religious faith. Religious faith can interfere with medical processes, such as stem cell research and a woman's right to choose abortion. With moral foundations based in concepts that forbid these processes, is it safe to say that people are qualified to make the right decisions?

As of 2006, 86% of U.S. adults over the age of 25 have reported that they attained a high school diploma, yet only 28% of adults over the age of 25 have attained a bachelor's degree(1). I ask again, are people qualified to make decisions?

Let me make it clear that I do not believe most politicians are qualified to be in their current positions, but I do like Mr. Gravel's intentions.

I feel that the best way to ensure that the people are qualified to possess this power would be to first put an emphasis on education. People need honest facts delivered to their lives via television, radio, and written media. The traditional sources of news and information are tainted with what the advertisers want the people to believe. The internet is an excellent first step that allows people to think for themselves and share those thoughts. The beauty of the internet is that there are almost an infinite number of channels to which people can navigate and find sources of information. Whereas television, radio, and written media is limited and feeds people information that stems from questionable sources.

Decisions have to be made by people that can prove their qualifications by means of testing that confirms the peoples understandings in the situations. It can not be a numbers game because being a majority does not make you knowledgeable group. I would like to see testing introduced that confirms qualifications.


Interesting Idea

It is a interesting Idea and agree that it would take some time for people to actually be educated and make the smart decisions. At the moment I have to be selfish because as History has shown, Americans have been very slow to accept any kind of change and accept the reality of this world.

I would be afraid to let current Americans choose whether a woman can have an abortion, or tackle issue on homosexuality. We have so many intolerant and ignorant religious Americans that this country should not trust with decisions about a better future.

I would have to swallow it in though and trust that eventually the people would definitely become better informed and make smarter LOGICAL smart decisions, for the benefit of everyone.

Here's the problem.

Without the National Initiative you can't educate the people properly, because the people in power don't want us educated.  If enough of us were fully educated we would realise as a people that they are screwing us over.  We can't wait around for them to educate us because they simply will not.  Period.  With the N.I. people could make the changes necessary to see that they themselves and more importantly(and completely) that the coming generations are well educated.  It will take time to turn this country around but it will only happen with the National Initiative.  As for examples.. look at State and Local Initiatives and at countries that have a N.I. .. Mike can give you plenty of great examples.

There is the good experience

There is the good experience with direct demokracy already. In 70's they used something called "planning cells" in Germany. How did it work:

25 people choosen randomly by the ballot. Same percent of males and females. Two moderators, one M and one F. They got two specialists for the given field of knowledge. But the moderators and specialists had no rights to decide. They all were taken to quiet place, that was unknown for the others. Such as willage hotel. It prevented lobbyists and corruptors from their work. The plannig comision lasts for 5 works days usually. The last day is reserved for writting the final results. Only the lost gain is paid to them all. It means, that they were paid just like they were sitting at their usual work. If the question they worked on was critical, there were 2 to 10 cells working at the same thing independently. But the experiences says that all of them had the similar results usually. It means that ordinary people, when they have the correct informations are able to decide as good as the experts.

The plannig cells hadn't the rights to make the laws. No, they were just preparing the drafts for the Congress or for the nation-wide referendum.

 I hope you can understand me. English is not my primary language. But I can answer your question if you have some.

 Greetings from Czechia

reply about qualification of the lawmakers

Nobody is an expert on every law being passed.  Not everyone is going to use their right to vote, if they don't know what the law is about; therefore, we should see more good debates showing up on mass media to better inform the people because they would have the power to actually change things.  Right now nobody bothers to educate the public, because the public doesn't matter, the public doesn't pass any laws, the public doesn't have the power to pass any laws.  I think things would change for better with giving some legislative power to the people, because then politicians and others would have to be accountable to the public somewhat.

T. J.

Direct Democracy and The Initiative

Ron Holland, President
The Swiss Confederation Institute

The nation of Switzerland provides the best example of how direct democracy and the right of referendum and initiative work to keep the people in control of government rather than the special interests. This model isn't perfect and the people can and do make mistakes on a regular basis but this is far preferable to total special interest control of government at all levels as now exists in the United States. For more information on the Swiss model, read "The Swiss Preserve Solution" specifically the chapter on Switzerland at


The majority of Americans are of religious faith. Religious faith can interfere with medical processes, such as stem cell research and a woman's right to choose abortion. With moral foundations based in concepts that forbid these processes, is it safe to say that people are qualified to make the right decisions?

So people without moral guidance are the most qualified people to make decisions for people who are , as you stated, mostly religous?

As of 2006, 86% of U.S. adults over the age of 25 have reported that they attained a high school diploma, yet only 28% of adults over the age of 25 have attained a bachelor's degree(1). I ask again, are people qualified to make decisions?

I believe a person's intelligence has nothing to do with any degree.  Many people simply cannot afford to attend college, does this make them less than qua.ified?