How to upgrade democracy: Former Microsoft executive Jon DeVaan’s primer on political reform

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 use 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 latest weeks, he has additionally served as a casual ombudsman, of types, to Microsoft as the corporate navigated an argument over its political donations earlier than asserting final week that it will not donate in the course of 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. Under, he shares advisable books, articles and different assets which have knowledgeable his understanding of the problems.

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Jon DeVaan: It was my pleasure to converse with Todd and John about democracy reform within the podcast. I discussed many references which can be fascinating to anybody who desires to be taught extra and become involved within the motion. I record these together with others I feel are nice primers on democracy reform.

Vital Articles

  • The primary is a research executed at Princeton about how residents have almost zero impression on public coverage.
  • The second is a Harvard Enterprise Faculty evaluation of the “Political Trade” and its dangerous impact on financial competitiveness:
  • The Economist’s rating of democracy (the USA’s democracy ranking has been falling for over a decade): Democracy Index 2020 – Economist Intelligence Unit (eiu.com)
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Vital 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 ought 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 kinds) and why it’s the greatest type of authorities identified to date. 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 the way to combat 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 impartial 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 Undertaking: Constructing a coalition of companies to champion reform

Teams in WA:

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

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

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

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