Representative democracy, what we have in the U.S., is not participatory because it tends to limit citizen participation to voting, leaving actual governance to politicians. But the convergence of technology and the web has created the ability for individual citizens to have a direct voice in the policies that shape their lives.
Participatory democracy, sometimes called “direct democracy,” is a process emphasizing the broad participation (decision making) of constituents in the direction and operation of political systems. Participatory democracy strives to create opportunities for all members of a political group to make meaningful contributions to decision-making, and seeks to broaden the range of people who have access to such opportunities. Because so much information must be gathered for the overall decision-making process to succeed, technology provides important forces leading to the type of empowerment needed for participatory models, especially those technological tools that enable community narratives and correspond to the accretion of knowledge. While no one has yet proved that such a style can work on the national level, Obama’s new administration may be the first to really give it a shot.
Our goal to “bring the power to the people” also literally comes from the etymological roots of “democracy,” which imply that any democracy would rely on the participation of its citizens (the Greek demos and kratos combine to suggest that “the people are in power“). This also entails the promotion of Participatory politics, our goal being to create a political system that will allow citizens to participate in politics, as much as possible in a face-to-face manner. Through the PolicyPitch platform, this means local policy, regional advocacy, and community and neighborhood changes.
Most of the above from our friends at Wikipedia.