Frequently Asked Questions
- Why are we named Democracy Rules?
Our name was chosen to acknowledge humankind's best form of government and also because all our important decisions are decided by democratic vote.
- What is the Democracy Rules Pledge?
The combined effort of many Americans working continuously to address specific issues has the potential to solve many of our nationís problems. However, this is only a secondary benefit of Democracy Rules, which was created to promote democratic ideals. These ideals include the right of each person to participate in their governance, and the right of a nation to be governed by the majority of its people. As such, DR is exclusively dedicated to upholding the principles of democracy and is not interested in moving any particular issue in one direction or the other. To the utmost of our ability, Democracy Rules pledges to unfailingly prosecute the directives of our members.
- How is Democracy Rules funded?
Democracy Rules is committed to being as free of cost as possible. We do not charge membership fees or extract commissions from memberís pledges. The only deductions from a deposit into a memberís account are the merchant fees PayPal charges to process credit card payments (2.2% and $0.30 per transaction), plus 2.8% for DRís administrative costs which include office, accounting, website and security expenses. The combined amount of these deductions total 5% plus $0.30 per PayPal transaction. In other words, members who deposit $100 into their account will have $94.70 available to affect the issues they helped elect. Administrative expenses of most nonprofit organizations range between 10% and 20% - not counting credit card fees. Our low costs are made possible by the diligent efforts of our talented, but unpaid, group of interns who maintain and manage DRís Presentation Cycle.
Democracy Rules does not maintain a relationship with any entity unrelated to the operation of our website. We have not and will not accept contributions from any special-interest individual or organization including any advocate, industry or government group. Also, to avoid conflicts of interest, we do not allow advertising on our website. As with our nation's democracy, we depend upon the voluntary support of our members to survive. We do accept donations from individuals and hope our members will make small, regular donations to assist with costs. The time will come when we will need to put our interns on salary and this could require raising our administrative fee to members. Donations will allow DR to keep member costs low and will determine our growth and the services we will be able to provide. The expenditure of excess administration revenue, if any, will be decided by members through the use of our opinion polls.
- Are Democracy Rules' donations or pledges tax deductible?
Democracy Rules is a non-profit 501(c)(4) political lobbying corporation (#68-0486197). Monetary pledges made to affect (lobby) issues are not tax deductible. However, donations made to the administration of Democracy Rules are tax deductible.
- Why does Democracy Rules require so much personal information?
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) requires political donors to report their name, address, occupation and employer if a donation exceeds $50. This information is forwarded to a legislatorís primary campaign committee along with our memberís pledges. The FEC also limits an individualís aggregate donations to $2,700 for either a primary or general election. Other information collected by DR is used for security reasons and our Regional Stats. Except to comply with FEC requirements, Democracy Rules will never sell, share or voluntarily divulge any of our memberís personal information to any third party.
- What is the Democracy Rules Presentation Cycle?
Democracy Rulesí three-week (21-day) presentation cycle is a process which identifies both our memberís most important issues and their position on these issues. DR organizes 345 social welfare issues into 24 categories ranging from Agriculture to Terrorism. Each category is divided into several subcategories, and each subcategory usually contains 3 issues. After choosing their most important issue in a subcategory, a member may then vote to support or oppose that issue. Typically, there are 6 possible polling options for each subcategory - three issues, each with a support or oppose option. At the conclusion of the 7-day polling period, the option with the greatest number of votes in each subcategory will be ďpresentedĒ to our membership for pledge acceptance - which also lasts 7 days. The minimum pledge is one dollar and the option of writing a short letter to your representatives, if so desired. Those who have pledged to an issue may then vote for the recipient, or trustee, of their pledge groupís funds during the 7-day trustee election beginning on the 15th cycle day.
A member may join a presentation cycle at any time by pledging before the end of the trustee election on midnight (Pacific Coast Time) of the 21st day. Members may participate in as many issues as desired, and they may also pledge to an issue without having participated in the issue poll, or if they had voted for a different polling option. Reelecting an issue, from cycle-to-cycle, will allow continued and increasingly-ambitious action on an issue, even when it is out of the media spotlight. A tie in voting during the issue poll or trustee election will be resolved in favor of the option which received the earliest vote. Once a category concludes its presentation cycle, it will revert to the polling section.
It only takes 10-15 seconds to login, poll, pledge or vote on any one specific issue Ė if you donít read our issue descriptions, or wish to just duplicate a previously-chosen voting option. Reading website text, submitting suggestions, and writing letters are not required for participation. It only requires about a half hour each week for one to participate in each of DRís 113 issues presented during our 3-week cycle. Sending a letter to your representatives will require a few minutes more but will significantly increase the impact of your effort to affect an issue.
- How can one avoid missing a presentation cycle deadline?
The easiest way to avoid missing any polling, pledging or voting deadlines is to log on once every 7 days. DR will poll new subcategories each week, thus ensuring there will always be a new issue poll, pledging period and trustee election every 7 days. Also, please note that in order to ensure all those in the Continental U.S. have until midnight to vote, Democracy Rules operates in the Pacific Time Zone
- Can a Presentation Cycle be nullified?
Occasionally, it may be necessary to nullify the results of a presentation cycle. This may occur if a trustee refuses our pledges, an advocate group ceases to exist, if an issue is resolved, or the status of a bill is changed before pledges are distributed. Should this occur, we will credit the funds collected during that presentation cycle to the accounts of those who pledged. Other circumstances may also require the nullification of a presentation cycle and the need for pledges to be returned. It is possible that members could cast conflicting votes on an issue from one month to the next. This would put DR in the awkward position of having to award funds to a trustee to both support and oppose an issue. Should this occur before the originally-elected funds are dispersed, DR will credit the accounts of the minority pledge group and promote the interests of the majority group.
- Will pledge funds ever be sent to a recipient who did not win the Trustee Election?
No. The intent of our members will always dictate DRís actions. But the names of legislation and legislators may change from what was displayed during a DR Presentation Cycle. The reasons for these changes include:
1.) The name and number of a bill changes as it progresses from one chamber to another, and from one Congress to the next, or when combined with other bills. In these cases, DR will apply a pledge groupís funds to the same legislation regardless of its new name, number or location.
2.) Legislation changes committees, or committee members change during, or shortly after, a DR Presentation Cycle.
Should this occur, DR will forward a pledge groupís funds to the new committee or new chairperson
3.) An advocate group is no longer able or willing to take the actions expected of it.
DR will then apply a pledge groupís funds to a similar group with the same original mandate.
Should DR be unable to comply with these changes, the cycle will be nullified and pledge funds will be credited to the accounts of those pledged.
- How objective are Democracy Rules issue descriptions?
Our issue descriptions attempt to provide brief and accurate definitions, histories, statistics and some pro and con positions on each of our issues. Although Democracy Rules realizes most members have previously formed opinions on these issues, we do not wish to influence the vote of any uncommitted member. Therefore, we strongly recommend members research the issues on which they intend to vote. But if truth be told, DRís issue descriptions are immaterial. All that really matters is the legislation associated with an issue Ė for that is what youíre voting to support or oppose.
- How is legislation selected for each issue?
The legislation associated with our issues has been determined by our managers to have the best potential to affect a specific issue. Legislation traditionally originates it the House, but if there are both House and Senate versions of a bill, DR will focus on first addressing the House version unless there are enough pledges to address both bills simultaneously. DR cautions our members that our brief summaries of these bills may be incomplete, and we strongly recommend accessing Congress.gov for the complete text, status and summary of all pending legislation. Occasionally, the opaque language used in some of these bills make it difficult to discern their true purpose, but plain-English summaries can usually be found online.
- What is Democracy Rules legislative strategy?
DRís choice of legislative trustee candidates will include those with jurisdiction over pending legislation associated with our issues. When identifying a legislator to introduce or reintroduce a bill, DR will first consider those who have previously sponsored or cosponsored legislation related to our issue. However, it is difficult for an outsider to devise a successful bill-passing strategy without knowledge of the inner dynamics of a chamber or committee, and the pressure that special interests bear upon them. Democracy Rules intends to request the assistance of a billís sponsor to accomplish this feat. Sponsors have intimate knowledge of the forces opposing their bill and should be willing to recommend the best strategy to overcome them. Typically, a billís sponsor will unconditionally receive 10% of the funds pledged to an issue for the duration of their billís legislative journey. It is also possible/likely another 10% could be unconditionally awarded to the House Speaker or Senate Leader for any DR bill residing in their chamber.
Unfortunately, the hyper-partisan behavior demonstrated by our current Congress has resulted in unprecedented legislative gridlock, making these past few Congresses the least productive in Americaís history. It is possible our memberís pledges may not be enough to propel legislation through Congressional committees and chambers. If so, DR will increase its number of advocate trustee candidates - including media and legal firms - to affect issues by working at the grass-roots level. It is thought that funding media campaigns and litigation may have a better chance of affecting issues than does our present Congress. Furthermore, it is also possible that DR members could decide to contribute to the electoral opponents of unresponsive lawmakers. However, such negative actions would only be considered in extreme cases, after many attempts have been made to partner with such legislators.
The long-term legislative strategy of Democracy Rules is to replace the special interest funding of our legislatorís reelection campaigns. Therefore, DR will make a conscious effort to rotate trustee candidates throughout the legislative process in order to involve as many legislators as possible Ė on both sides of the isle. For example, should funding allow, DR would make trustee candidates of all members of a committee, subcommittee or chamber.
- What is Democracy Rules trustee strategy?
Trustee candidates will normally be those controlling legislation our members wish to support or oppose. Often, this will be the Chairperson and/or members of a committee or sub-committee which have jurisdiction over our bill. Each Congress, the vast majority of proposed legislation dies in committee when ďleft on the tableĒ - unless scheduled for consideration by the Chairperson, who decides whether a bill is reported for testimony and voted on by their committee members. This vote determines whether or not that bill shall advance to another committee or to the House floor for a vote by all chamber members. With their ability to waive the requirement for committee review, the Senate Leader and the House Speaker determine whether to block a bill, bring a bill up for a floor vote, or expedite actions of a bill which must be reviewed by a large number of committees. All of these legislators are eligible as trustee candidates.
It is important to remember that awarding pledge funds to a legislatorís re-election committee is not conditional upon any return action by that lawmaker. A quid-pro-quo expectation of such a transaction would be considered an unlawful bribe - whether committed by Democracy Rules or any other lobbying organization. Upon the completion of each presentation cycle, all funds pledged to the principal campaign committee of a legislative trustee will be forwarded without terms or conditions. And although these pledge funds are later accompanied by an unrelated letter requesting the legislator to favorably consider our memberís wishes regarding that issue, he or she is under no obligation to do so - and some, if not many, will not. This is the reason writing letters and voting in elections are as important in enacting change as are contributions. A constituentís letter to a legislator communicates their position on an issue, just as a contribution communicates a voterís support for a representative who acts in a responsible and representative manner. Over time, members of Congress will demonstrate how responsive they are to the wishes of the majority, which could affect their future consideration as a trustee candidate.
Democracy Rules also offers trustee candidacies to advocate groups that are working with our issues Ė as well as legal and public relations firms which can push issues in the direction our memberís desire. One requirement of these groups is to ensure DR funding expands their programs rather than funds their present efforts. Any entity with the potential to positively affect an issue could be considered as a trustee candidate. Should a legal or PR firm be elected to file a lawsuit or create an ad campaign without sufficient funds being pledged for such an action, these funds will either be held until additional funding arrives via future presentation cycles, or credited to the accounts of those who pledged. Members may submit suggestions for trustee candidates to DR administrators during the pledging period of our presentation cycle for possible inclusion in a future cycle. Once ascertained, trustee evaluations will be displayed in our archives section.
- How are my pledge letters sent to my representatives?
Unfortunately, nearly every Representative and Senator has decided against maintaining public fax numbers or email addresses to receive comments from their constituents. One must now submit these messages through a repís web form on their website. However, DR has installed a text box on our pledge page to facilitate this communication. After completing your letter, it must then be cut and pasted onto each of your three representativeís web forms - which can be accessed through the links displayed on that page. Please note that some web forms require your 9-digit zip code.
DR very much hopes these additional steps will not discourage members from forgoing this important act. We provide a pre-written introduction to your letter to ensure proper heading and legislative reference. However, the most important message that can be conveyed to your representative is contained in the words you write. We suggest explaining to them the importance of this issue and its relevance to you. We also recommend mentioning your intention to vote in the next election deciding their office.
If you prefer not to write a letter, it is still very important to convey your views. In this case, you may send your letter as it is prepared Ė without adding to it. This action would not convey your personal views, but it does contain your opinion on that issue and it will be recognized as being sent from a constituent. All letters, whether personalized or not, send the message that ďThis issue is important to me. Beware of how you treat it.Ē
- What is the purpose of the issue and trustee suggestion boxes?
We ask our members to suggest relevant issues and worthy trustees we may have overlooked. The issue suggestion field is located on the polling page and the trustee suggestion field is located on the pledging page. These suggestions are displayed in our archives section as common-word listings. From these lists, we attempt to discern the most popular and promising suggestions. These issue and trustee recommendations are researched for display in a future presentation cycle.
- What is the Archives section?
Democracy Rules maintains permanently-displayed records to ensure integrity and transparency. This information may also be useful when deciding how to best affect an issue or for reviewing the effects of previous support actions. All current and past information regarding the operation of Democracy Rules is detailed in the Archives section. The opening date of an issueís presentation cycle is used for reference purposes. Complete presentation cycle data is displayed here in real-time, before being permanently recorded at the conclusion of each cycle. Records of trustee payments, once distributed, and trustee evaluations, once ascertained, are also displayed in the archive section. In addition, all DR financial data, including income, expense and tax information, is displayed in this section. Lastly, the archive section also displays the totals of our disaster relief and humanitarian aid efforts, as well as long-term campaign totals and the results of our opinion polls.
- What are Democracy Rules Regional Statistics?
Regional Statistics contain the aggregate information found in our archives but are collated and displayed by state, congressional district, zip code, gender, age and employment status. No member's personal information is ever divulged by this, or any other, DR function. A resource for members, Regional Stats also assists legislators in identifying their constituent's opinions on 350 important issues polled, pledged and voted each month.
- What are Democracy Rules Voter Recommendations?
Democracy Rules does not directly participate in elections or recommend specific electoral candidates. However, in advance of national elections, Democracy Rules will send members voter recommendations based on whether their representatives supported the issues to which they pledged. This service attempts to show if the actions of your present representatives are aligned with your own political agenda.
- What are the Opinion Polls?
The function of our homepage opinion polls are solely for the interest of our members and are not related to any presentation cycle. These polls are also used to assist administrators in deciding policy. Results are archived.
- What is a Democracy Rules Long Term Campaign?
The purpose of a Democracy Rules Long Term Campaign is to enable funding for an issue that requires long-term action. Campaigns provide an issue with consistent, prolonged support that is not dependent upon a presentation cycle. Long-term campaigns may used to amend our Constitution, affect an issue or enact a boycott. Once members vote to enact a campaign, it is displayed on our home page and all members are notified of its existence. Members may then donate to a variety of options designed to progress that issue. These campaigns remain active for as long as they receive adequate donations or until the issue has been resolved.
- What is Disaster Relief and Humanitarian Aid?
Democracy Rules accepts monetary donations for humanitarian aid for the populations of countries experiencing disasters, including our own. Members choose what type of aid and which aid agency to support. Democracy Rules does not extract any fees or commissions from these contributions. (Should it not be possible to forward donations to a specific option, these funds will be combined with the next most popular option.)
- What is the My Account section?
Each member has a personalized account in which they may view their Democracy Rules history and edit their account information. Member's deposit, donation and pledge records are privately displayed in this section. Members may deposit funds into their account using their PayPal account or by credit card. Once deposited, issue pledges and administration donations are drawn from this account.
- What is the Merchandise Section?
Democracy Rules offers a line of merchandise embossed with our logo for those who wish to support our organization. Customers must register separately for this section and some items may be slightly different than those displayed online, depending on supplier availability. Please allow 4 to 6 weeks to process an order. Your patronage is very much appreciated.
- What is the purpose of Democracy Rules Blogs?
Democracy Rules blogs are for members to discuss issues with one another. However, these blogs are not integrated into our main database so users must register separately in order to participate.
- What is the Tell-A-Friend function?
Democracy Rules needs broad participation to succeed and we are dependent upon our member's efforts to advertise our website. Democracy Rules appreciates our member's use of social media to propagate information regarding this project. Our tell-a-friend function can also be used to send a description and address of the DR website. To email multiple recipients, separate the email addresses by a comma in the text field.
- What correspondence will Democracy Rules members receive?
Confirmation of monetary pledges (with an option to opt-out) and administrative donations
Re-elected presentations of your previously pledged issues
Announcements of boycotts and other long-term campaigns
Appeals for disaster and humanitarian aid
Voter registration and voting reminders
- What does Democracy Rules require of its members?
In order to continue as a member, Democracy Rules asks all members to respect the one person, one vote precept basic to all democracies. Democracy Rules employs a number of security protocols to prevent multiple voting. For this reason, only one member is allowed to log in from each computer.
- What is Democracy Rules Affiliate Licensing?
The Democracy Rules website can be easily adapted for operation at the regional governmental level to influence local issues. For this reason, we offer state affiliate licenses to those interested in operating a Democracy Rules website in each of our 50 United States. DR may also be capable of affecting issues in other democratic nations as well. We offer residents of each of the 123 global democracies a national affiliate license to operate an individualized version of Democracy Rules. Like DR-USA, these national affiliates will address national issues, and like the United States, the populations of these countries may also desire better representation at the local level. DR offers metropolitan affiliate licenses to residents wishing to affect local issues in each of these democratic nations, including at least 275 metropolises with at least 1 million inhabitants. Democracy Rules employs a self-selection process that simultaneously elects administrators to each prospective affiliate position. Affiliates will operate autonomously but will coordinate efforts with one another when addressing issues common to both affiliates.