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A Movement for Small-District, Web-Connected, Decentralized Democracy

A Movement for Small-District, Web-Connected, Decentralized Democracy


Citizens Rising is about the future of representative democracy

Today congressional districts comprise an average of 760,000 inhabitants.

Many state legislative districts contain over 100,000 persons.

Even local governments, which are supposed to be closest to the people, may have only one elected city councilor or county supervisor for hundreds of thousands of constituents.

The result of political districts with huge populations is that elected officials no longer represent citizens.

Instead, they now serve the various political and corporate interests that allow professional politicians to successfully market themselves to large masses of people.

It doesn’t have to be like this. Not in the Information Age.

At Citizens Rising we intend to birth a revolution for small, Web-connected, political districts of 30,000 inhabitants or less, at all levels of government throughout the United States.

Together, we will restore government of, by and for, the people.

Why Small Districts

Small and decentralized political districts:

  • Better mirror the values, interests and desires of ordinary people.
  • Encourage citizen government instead of government by professional politicians.
  • Further diversity in government, allowing for fuller representation of people and groups who are traditionally underrepresented.
  • Remove the corrupting influence of money in politics as districts get smaller.
  • Disempower lobbyists.
  • Reduce incumbent advantages as districts get smaller.
  • Make gerrymandering more difficult in most places.
  • Promote better legislative committee work by distributing workloads more broadly and drawing from a large pool of citizen-representatives containing a wide variety of professional specializations.

Our Strategy

Start locally and build a movement

The holy grail of decentralized democracy in the United States is the reformation of the US House of Representatives into many, small, legislate-from-home, congressional districts.

Along the way, many state and local political districts with extreme representative-to-citizens ratios can and should be reduced to vastly improve democratic representation.

In so doing, we will help nurture and develop a new transformative Information Age political culture that will empower people over politicians and special interests.

Donate and Volunteer

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California Rising!

A Campaign to Bring True Representative Democracy to California

California today, at all levels of government, is the least democratic state in the nation when it comes to democracy’s most essential metric: representation.

  • California State Assembly districts comprise 500,000 inhabitants, by far the biggest of any state.
  • California State Senate Districts contain almost one million people, which is also unheard of in any other state.
  • Many California county governments have citizen-to-elected-official ratios of hundreds of thousands to one. In Los Angeles County, one County Supervisor is supposed to represent 2 million people.
  • The cities of Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose and San Francisco have city-council-member-to-population ratios of 1 to 266,000, 159,000, 100,00 and 80,000 respectively.

In California, government has moved so far from the control of the people that in most places the people are hardly represented at all. Instead, elected officials serve the special and political interests that keep them in power.

But in California the people, themselves, have power also. Through citizens’ initiatives, the people of California can amend the State Constitution, and revise local charters, to realize an Information Age political system of decentralized, Web-connected, small district, democracy.

It is a big and essential task for us, our families, and for generations to come. We need the help of every citizen who cares about democracy. Please join us.

Learn More

Organizing Committee

Paul Jacob: Paul is president of the Liberty Initiative Fund, a national organization helping citizens place issues on state and local ballots, designed to protect individual liberty and hold government accountable. For more than a decade, Paul was the term limits movement’s leading voice, running U.S. Term Limits, the nation’s largest such group. For his work to bring term limits to Congress, columnist Robert Novak good-naturedly called Jacob “the most hated man in Washington.” Paul won the “Courage Under Fire” award at the 2009 Conservative Political Action Conference. He serves on the boards of Citizens in Charge, Citizens in Charge Foundation, Great Communicators Foundation, and U.S. Term Limits.

Joe Mathews: Joe is a journalist whose work focuses on two subjects: California, and the rule and practice of democracy worldwide. He is co-president of the Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy, the world’s leading network of people whose work involves direct democracy, and serves on the board of Democracy International, a Germany-based NGO that supports democracy campaigners around the globe. He is California and Innovation editor at Zócalo Public Square, a Los Angeles-based media nonprofit; his weekly syndicated California column appears in more than 30 newspapers. Previously, Joe was Irvine senior fellow at the New America Foundation, and a reporter for the LA Times, Wall Street Journal, and Baltimore Sun. He is author of The People’s Machine: Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Rise of Blockbuster Democracy, and co-author of The California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It.

Executive Director

Stephen Erickson: Stephen has spent much of his adult life working for political reform. He is the author of two books, including What Would Madison Do? The Political Journey Progressives and Conservatives Must Make Together, which, praised by leading voices on the Left and Right, tells the story of his campaign to unite leaders of all political persuasions to fix America’s broken political system. He completed coursework on a doctorate in Early American History, possesses significant political experience, has published various articles, won writing awards, and served as Resident Scholar at US Term Limits. He is the founder of the American Common Ground Alliance, an effort to open a broad dialogue between conservative and liberal leaders focused on America’s failing and dysfunctional institutions. Stephen can be reached at

For more detailed information about the advantages of small districts, visit

For essential information about money in politics, see Open Secrets.

For information on American elections, check out Ballotpedia.