improve democracy: Former Microsoft government Jon DeVaan’s primer on political reform

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The Jan. 6 breach and riot on the U.S. Capitol, and the bigger effort to overturn the outcomes of the election, have introduced new consideration to the bigger want for political reform — fixing the bugs within the system of democracy, to make use of a metaphor provided by Jon DeVaan, the previous Microsoft engineering chief.

Jon DeVaan, former Microsoft engineering chief and board member of Symbolize Us.

DeVaan has grow to be deeply concerned within the political reform motion since retiring from Microsoft in 2013 after 30 years on the firm. He’s on the board of Symbolize Us, a bipartisan group in search of to finish corruption in politics.

In current weeks, he has additionally served as an off-the-cuff ombudsman, of kinds, to Microsoft as the corporate navigated an issue over its political donations earlier than saying final week that it could not donate throughout the 2022 election cycle to members of Congress and different political leaders who who supported efforts to overturn the election.

DeVaan joins my colleague John Prepare dinner and me because the visitor on this week’s GeekWire Podcast, discussing the occasions of the previous month, the trail ahead for political reform, and the function that tech corporations and different companies can play within the motion. Beneath, he shares really helpful books, articles and different assets which have knowledgeable his understanding of the problems.

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Jon DeVaan: It was my pleasure to talk with Todd and John about democracy reform within the podcast. I discussed many references which are attention-grabbing to anybody who needs to be taught extra and become involved within the motion. I checklist these together with others I believe are nice primers on democracy reform.

Essential Articles

  • The primary is a examine achieved at Princeton about how residents have almost zero influence on public coverage.
  • The second is a Harvard Enterprise College evaluation of the “Political Trade” and its dangerous impact on financial competitiveness:
  • The Economist’s rating of democracy (the USA’s democracy score has been falling for over a decade): Democracy Index 2020 – Economist Intelligence Unit (eiu.com)
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Essential Books

  • Darkish Cash by Jane Mayer – This ebook outlines the political dynamics that birthed the trendy conservative motion and the cash technique that bankrolled it.
  • How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt: Why everybody needs to be afraid of the place the USA is correct now.
  • Conservative Events and the Beginning of Democracy by Daniel Ziblatt: Why reform of the GOP is urgently wanted (or a brand new middle proper get together)
    • Additionally article: Why Conservative Events Are Central to Democracy – The Atlantic
    • Additionally podcast: Opinion | An Appalled Republican Considers the Way forward for the G.O.P. – The New York Instances (nytimes.com)
  • On Democracy by Robert A Dahl – That is an instructional ebook however is the perfect rationalization of what democracy is (actually self-government in varied varieties) and why it’s the finest type of authorities identified to this point. That is my philosophical bible on what makes good democracy reform.

Motion pictures – Not all of us have time to learn books!

  • Darkish Cash (not associated to the ebook): A deep dive into cash’s corrupting affect
  • Slay the Dragon: Why gerrymandering is dangerous and how one can struggle it.
  • Eastpointe: How ranked selection voting helps create higher illustration.

Nationwide teams:

  • RepresentUs: Champions native and state legal guidelines that make the political system work for normal individuals
  • Unite America: Champions native and state legal guidelines emphasizing unbiased and reform minded political leaders
  • FairVote: Champions ranked selection voting nationwide
  • IssueOne: Champions democracy reforms in Congress
  • ProtectDemocracy: Champions accountability and prevention of presidential energy
  • Management Now Challenge: Constructing a coalition of companies to champion reform

Teams in WA:

  • Honest Vote WA: Championing ranked selection voting in WA
  • Repair Democracy First: Champions a bunch of reforms
  • The Sightline Institute: A wonderful analysis group engaged on democracy reforms and different social points
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Twitter – Observe these individuals and teams to realize perspective

  • Charlotte Hill 
  • Lee Drutman
  • Trevor Potter 
  • Marc E. Elias
  • Heather Cox Richardson
  • Teri Kanefield
  • Brennan Middle 
  • Evan McMullin 
  • Vote At Dwelling Institute

[Editor’s Note: Duration of DeVaan’s Microsoft tenure corrected since publication.]

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