30 May 2006

A Modest Proposal on Making Representative Democracy Far More Representative

Often times a situation arises where elected representatives don't go about representing the wishes of the folks that they were elected to represent.

Most Republican Senators and some Republican Congressional Representatives have strayed far afield from their constituents' wishes regarding Illegal Immigration.

Clearly, an important segment of Sen. Clinton and Sen. Lieberman's constituencies are angry over specific votes and an overall pattern of those Senators' choice to seemingly ignore the Will of those that got them there.

I wouldn't bring all this up if I didn't have a simple, effecient and effective remedy.

Since Vote-Buying didn't seem to create much of a stir, my modest suggestion regarding Electoral Reform was ignored, and Terminal Limits, though perfectly sensible, seems to have been a complete non-starter, I have come up with a new proposal that will positively transform the manner in which common folks are represented by their elected representatives.

This modest proposal requires direct engagement from the populace, while it simultaneously penalizes Senators and Representatives who ignore the will of the people. It would require a small investment in some infrastructure, but I am here to say that no investment is too large that would better the responsiveness of the federal government to the folks governed.

Here's the scheme in a nutshell, all bills before either the Senate or the House would be required to have their final version online for 2 weeks before the final vote is cast. During that two week period voters who have gone through a biometric check to verify their identity, would then be able to place their personal vote on each bill (it's possible, and in this case vital, to keep the biometric data separate from the voting data, so that the voter can be verified without the vote being identified). Each vote in each district or state would then have a number assigned to it equal to the spread between the votes for and against (Example, Bill A in District 1 has a percentage count of voters who made their voices heard of 53 for, and 47 against, but Rep. of Dist. 1 votes against Bill A anyway, he would get -6 points against his running total). That number would then be applied for or against a running total for each Representative and Senator, and even the President so that when they vote with the Will of The People they get a positive points, and when they vote against the Will of their particular constituents they get points taken away (For the President his signature or veto would be counted as a vote, so that veto-overrides wouldn't count against him).

The purpose of this would be to collect the Will of The People on each decision that each Senator and Representative makes during their service to The People. Each vote then, would be accorded a positive or negative number corresponding to the degree with which the elected concur or stray from the thoughts of his/her constituency. A Senator or Representative who accumulates a negative total of more than 300 would be forced to vote whichever way their constituency demands, also any issue that develops a single issue majority of plus 50 (better than 75 for versus 25 against) would mean that the representative would face immediate recall if they choose to vote against the Will of The People when the will has been voiced so strongly.

The arguments against such a system are mere piffle (possibly even mere-er than piffle, more triffle-y even). Once this system is in place folks will make it their business to know the business of the Federal Government and make their Will known, or risk having the Will of others be the deciding factors on how their elected vote.

Given that most decisions don't form better than a 55-45 split amongst constituencies, and given that all voters in a district would count equally (plus this would be a huge incentive to vote, given that only people that voted in the previous election would be eligible to have their Will processed and counted) this would also allow a focused political minority within a district remain influential with their representatives. Now being in the political minority in some districts is virtual disenfranchisement, this system would change that for the good.

If the 300 negative point limit seems too excessive then it could be tweaked to a lower amount to keep the elected from straying too far from the opinion of the voters, maybe 200 would be enough to allow the elected some room for discretion without that discretion running rampant and allowing Representatives and Senators to run roughshod over the Will of the People that elected them in the first place.

The technology now exists to force our current Representative Democracy to better resemble a Direct Democracy, and the more direct a democracy is, the better it will function.

There is great wisdom in the commons, let the folks have not just influence, but real power over those that they elect, not just every 2, 4 or 6 years, but every single vote should require the input of the good folks of the United States, it's a more effecient and effective way to prevent the appearance of despotism that often seeps in the edges of our current system.


flicka47 said...

Couldn't you make it a little more Pavlovian?

Instead of giving them a +/- "score", couldn't they be hooked up to a little electric charge and then when they didn't vote the way their constituents wanted..

Well,I think you get the idea.

Before long they would figure out that they had better vote the way they should have been doing all along!

XWL said...

I guess 10 volts per point difference wouldn't be bad.

Excellent suggestion.

A more responsive and responsible Legislative and Executive Branch should be a goal all can agree on regardless of politics.

bill said...

Read Interface

XWL said...

It's always about the Stephenson with some folks.

How dare he steal an idea I had before I even thought of it, the bastard!

Pastor_Jeff said...


Another entirely sensible and modest proposal.

The first suggestion is an excellent addition - except that it doesn't go far enough. Here we have an opportunity to combine several of your best ideas.

To wit: rather than measly electric charges, each Congressman will have implanted in his or her neck a small explosive device (a la Snake Plissken in Escape From New York). When the negatives reach a certain point...

"Snake Clinton! I heard you were dead."

(Man, it's time to watch Kurt Russell and Isaac Hayes battle it out again.)