A New Democracy

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by B_spiker067, Mar 20, 2007.

  1. B_spiker067

    B_spiker067 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2006
    Messages:
    2,189
    Likes Received:
    0
    A New Democracy

    I’ve been considering an idea lately, somewhat inpired by DirtyDE. She reminded me that we live in a constitutional republic and not a democracy. So bear with me as I first publicly share it here to flesh out this idea I want to set up a website for :)

    We all see that financial institutions are very capable of reliably completing hundreds of millions of transactions daily using computers. If only equal care was taken we could reliably get people to vote on computers and have those votes counted fairly and accurately on a daily basis if we needed to, don’t you think?

    Well if this is possible, why don’t we pretty much keep the system in place that we have now except that all registered voters get to vote on bills that are up for vote in the House of Representatives. This way, in my opinion, government would remain more responsive to the voters than they have been to date and we would be a more like a representative democracy.


    Think about it, we could elect a representative who would go up to congress and work on laws, help set agendas, and try to build real consensus in order to persuade the daily voters.

    On voting we could have three options: 1)I cast my vote. 2) I abstain in voting. 3) I allow my elected representative to proxy my vote. My vote could be public where I and everyone else could see my vote for the sake of verification or I could keep it private.

    There are so many details running in my head its ridiculous. Who’s interested in this idea? What are the pitfalls I’m missing?

    If this idea is original and it saves America and if DirtyDE’s current picture is really her and she consents can I take the wench to bed as my reward?:biggrin1::cool::rolleyes:
     
  2. JustAsking

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2004
    Messages:
    3,249
    Likes Received:
    3
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Ohio
    spiker,
    This is an interesting idea, but not a new one. Personally, I think the founding fathers did the right thing in creating a republic. I don't think we could actually govern ourselves properly if every bill were decided by popular vote.

    I think it is an oversimplification to think that the founding fathers created a republic because it was impractical for everyone to vote on each issue. This was true, of course, but I bet you will also find a strong notion that governing should be left up to professionals.

    Consider, for example, that if it were up to the popular vote, we would be teaching creationism in science class right now. No, as for governing, the old TV warning comes to mind:

    "Kids don't try this at home."

    I think the overall question of whether the people have what it takes to govern themselves or not is probably as old as the notion of democracy. Our founding fathers concluded that the answer is "not quite".
     
  3. B_spiker067

    B_spiker067 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2006
    Messages:
    2,189
    Likes Received:
    0
    Well, I'm not interested in getting rid of the Senate, President, or Supreme Court. I'm interested in getting rid of K Street.

    There was a study recently done (can't find a link) that the collective is smarter than any given individual. In guessing the number of marbles in a large jar the average of all the answers habitually ended up being unbelievable accurate and more so than any single person. This example is just a illustrative of more sophisticated experiments. So I believe along with a few other founding fathers that the masses are not necessarily asses all the time.:eek: I have faith in the American voter. They can even be smart enough to let their more informed elected rep cast their vote for them. I think you could even start at the city, county, and state level.

    If its not a new idea can you clue me in to where I might find more information on it?
     
  4. DC_DEEP

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2005
    Messages:
    9,029
    Likes Received:
    12
    Not to mention that there are just so damned many items that go up for a vote. Up to and including renaming post offices after a local "hero." Seriously, the requests pour in by the hundreds, and it takes a Congressional vote to rename "Springfield Homer Simpson Main Post Office."

    Also, some of the more important bills are pages and pages and pages long... reams of paper for each one. I doubt the professional politicians read them, can you imagine what the average Billy-bob Sixtooth would do? I often read through proposed bills and enacted legislation, so that I know what I'm talking about when I discuss it. I'm fairly bright, and even with great motivation, I have trouble getting all the way through without my eyes crossing.

    And finally, consider this: as JA mentioned above, most of this stuff is best left to the professionals. Civil rights issues decided by the hoi poloi is a really really bad idea. Women would still not be able to vote and negroes would still be white man's property if it were up to the general population of voters. Our elected officials sometimes don't really do much better, but they occasionally get something right. At least significantly more often than our fellow voters would.
     
  5. B_spiker067

    B_spiker067 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2006
    Messages:
    2,189
    Likes Received:
    0
    This would be the ultimate OPEN SOURCE experiment. We could even have legislation monitored by version control software (Subversion/CVS anyone?)
     
  6. D_Humper E Bogart

    D_Humper E Bogart New Member

    Joined:
    May 10, 2004
    Messages:
    2,226
    Likes Received:
    2
    Wait, the average person would actually make a difference?

    I'm sold.
     
  7. ledroit

    ledroit New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2005
    Messages:
    854
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    8
    Gender:
    Male
    For me the question of whether my vote has a direct or indirect effect on public decisions is not the real point. I don't have a problem saying that I built my own house, even if I hired people to do some of the work, or all of the work. It's misleading to say you didn't build your own house unless you did every single bit of every detail all alone, and I think it's misleading to say the US is not a democracy unless you yourself can vote directly on all bits and pieces of legislation.

    It's not hard to imagine some internet system in which that could work, but it is harder for me to imagine how I could educate myself enough to know how one bit of legislation I might like could affect parts of society I know nothing about.

    I think the oldest and most conservative form of democratic decision making ever seen in the US was probably the old town meetings in New England. Those towns were fairly small, didn't change much, and people had a very good sense of ethics, so that individuals kept themselves in check and a few lone bullies or cowboys didn't try to ruin things for the group. They could all come together as a community, and make decisions by consensus to manage the annual affairs that couldn't be handled in other ways.

    At the opposite extreme is the lone cowboy, who is probably the most liberal figure in the US imagination. He's got a gun, a horse, some whiskey, his wits, and answers to absolutely nobody at all. (this is the opposite of new england, in which all neighbors have to answer to each other, and hold themselves accountable to each other). The cowboy's independence means he can be absolutely liberal toward himself and conservative toward absolutely everybody he doesn't like. It's an adolescent boy's dream. It reminds me of George Bush saying he answers to no one, and George Washington saying he was accountable to every citizen in the country.

    In a real democracy, I think what matters is whether individuals want to put things that are purely a matter of self-interest aside, and try to do good things with others in a group, even with others they don't agree with. I think you can do that best if you realize we can do some great things only as a group, not as a collection of unrelated individuals. Like defend a country, or build a new industry, or create and sustain a culture, or stand up for others who are weaker than we are but deserve our help.

    For me what matters most is whether we agree on goals together, and can accomplish them, a little like you do in a football team or some research project or in a new business. My ego is not offended if I don't have direct inputs into this or that decision as long as the overall outcome is successful and good for the whole.

    Piecemeal voting could be a problem if you have people who are think that they can do the equivalent of managing an ecological system best by having everyone vote on their favorite leaves, or trees or animals. A healthy environment is one in which the different elements are balanced in good relationships with each other. Not too much water, not too many plants, not too much heat or sunlight, and a good balance between the consumers and providers in a food chain.

    Intelligent management of a country means looking beyond your favorite bits and personalities and pleasures into what makes a healthy system really work well. That takes maturity and experience, not just willfulness, and probably altruism, so that I can sacrifice what I might like to do if I were a cowboy for the sake of good neighbors whom I repect and want to cooperate with.

    The question of direct or indirect representation and the frequency of polling or voting don't seem to matter as much to me if I think of that. I am more interested in finding some way to influence the outcomes that matter most to the kind of people I'd love to work with most at a town meeting in an old New England town. Neighbors I respect and admire, with the kind of decency and self-restraint you find in people who are willing to grant others the same freedoms they like to have for themselves.
     
  8. DC_DEEP

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2005
    Messages:
    9,029
    Likes Received:
    12
    Ah, now that's an entirely different critter. For what it's worth, the K Street "cartel" was really nothing before the intensive and concerted efforts of Tom DeLay. In more than one interview, he as much as admitted that to get his desired result, he would gladly set aside ethics.

    I'm not sure how it would work, but there is a way to get rid of the lobbying influence, and I think a departure from party politics would be a necessary start. The whole K Street thing was that, for substantial contributions to the party, the lobbyists clients could "buy" significant one-on-one ear time with committee chairmen (read between the lines, that basically means pay enough, and come tell me how you want me to vote.) Of course, the democrats were indignant that the filthy republicans would engage in influence peddling.

    Now that they have the majority (and therefore, the committee chairs) the scrupulous Nancy Pelosi (and seconded by Barney Frank) quietly stated that they have no intention of discontinuing this practice.

    If there were no party for them to contribute to, and no party protection for participants, the whole K Street thing would just evaporate.

    Along similar lines, I think we need to make demands to our Congress that the practice of piggy-backing legislation (or pork-barreling) should be abolished. No addenda to any legislation, which is not specifically and directly related to that legislation.
     
  9. B_spiker067

    B_spiker067 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2006
    Messages:
    2,189
    Likes Received:
    0
    I agree on not voting on the minutiae. That was just exuberant wording. I expect it would be a simple vote on whole bills on every other Tuesdays. If I wasn't interested I could abstain or have my rep cast my vote as if it was his.:cool:

    Imagine the late night news: "Bill 157-123 passed with 34,000,000 votes today. We are getting a 20% raise in education spending if the Senate passes the bill."
     
  10. ledroit

    ledroit New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2005
    Messages:
    854
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    8
    Gender:
    Male
    I think at the very least you might have a fantastic idea for a new tool for the "public voice" regardless of whether congress ever agreed to take the numbers into account. Actually, I do like the idea, and I like what you said about collective wisdom. I also saw some article or review about a study or a book on that in the last couple of years--it might have been the same one you are thinking about, and I liked it too. About the remarkable intelligence you find when the sample size is enormous.

    But the control issues would be daunting. Maybe you should run this by somebody at Google. Imagine controlled on-line polling with a HUGE sample size that could be almost instantaneous. No wonder your head was spinning!
     
  11. B_spiker067

    B_spiker067 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2006
    Messages:
    2,189
    Likes Received:
    0
    I would be leery of having Google run this thing because I personally would eventually want to have my actual vote count on a given bill. I don't think using it just as a polling system would really compel people to 'vote'.

    The initial musing on this idea started some time ago I just didn't get around to posting it til now so I probably should have been more precise with the initial posting of it; I have no excuse for a spinning head really.:rolleyes:

    Do you mind my asking what you do in DC?

    P.S. Yes, I think we are talking about the same thing in regards to collective wisdom. I think it also included the idea that the people involved weren't even expert necessarily on the wisdom item under consideration, which makes it even more compelling of an idea.
     
  12. B_spiker067

    B_spiker067 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2006
    Messages:
    2,189
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'm glad to see you are so well informed of K Street. I hope some read it and look into DeLay. But (though amateurs) the dems are picking up on this game too and they in their day and probably to this day are corrupt too.

    How could you possibly keep these guys honest, hmmm... let me think...

    Well, nope nothing. But I too wished for some time now we had a "No Piggy-Back" constitutional amendment. Seems to hard to word right though.

    If only we could all vote on bills... if only...:biggrin1:
     
  13. B_spiker067

    B_spiker067 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2006
    Messages:
    2,189
    Likes Received:
    0
    Anyhow, thanks for the feedback. I'll check back on the thread for a little while. Ledroit you sound like you have a cool job :)
     
  14. DC_DEEP

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2005
    Messages:
    9,029
    Likes Received:
    12
    You bet your sweet ass they are. I've posted several times about Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and her comrades, and their comments about this very issues. They were very vocal about how corrupt the republicans were for their involvement with K Street; but now in majority, they have chosen to continue those practices.
    I'm sure I would not have too much trouble coming up with a solution for both those problems.
     
  15. B_JQblonde

    B_JQblonde New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2006
    Messages:
    419
    Likes Received:
    0
    Gender:
    Male
    all you need to do is research the sordid history of I & R in states to see why this idea is best left on shelves.

    It doesn't work.
     
  16. DC_DEEP

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2005
    Messages:
    9,029
    Likes Received:
    12
    Aw, JQ, I'm disappointed. No scathing anti-liberal commentary regarding my mention of Nancy Pelosi and the majority party?
     
  17. rob_just_rob

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2005
    Messages:
    6,037
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    Nowhere near you
    The problem with this sort of system is the question of who drafts the bills. Much like the problem with referenda is the question of who drafts the question.

    If the party in power drafts the bills/referenda, they can decide how the question is phrased, and add whatever riders they want to the bills in question. There's no real opportunity for the people voting on the bill to amend it, or debate it. A simple example - picture a bill that all Americans get to vote on the day after 9/11:

    "Resolved: We will use military force to destroy al-qaida"

    Not much question that this will pass. But how about

    "Resolved: We will invade Afghanistan and Iraq in order to destroy al-qaida"?

    But... wait... al-qaida didn't have a presence in Iraq on 9/11. How does the internet voter separate Iraq from Afghanistan if they have no (or very limited) ability to draft, amend, or debate this bill?

    There's a reason that advocates of referenda are called false populists. Referenda provide an illusion of citizens having input into the democratic process, when in fact, the person drafting the questions/bills has even more control over the process than he would have in a traditional legislative system.
     
  18. B_spiker067

    B_spiker067 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2006
    Messages:
    2,189
    Likes Received:
    0

    Dude, you wasted your writing time and my reading time by cryptically mentioning what is "I & R in states" w/o even a link out or even making clear who exactly you are responding to. Just like the hockey stick scam (which I knew about even before your reference) to which I tried to clue you in to its need of a link.

    Plus the wasted time with this response. You are about to go on the NAV list.:biggrin1:
     
  19. B_spiker067

    B_spiker067 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2006
    Messages:
    2,189
    Likes Received:
    0
    What are you going to do? Go shoot 'em?:biggrin1:
     
  20. B_spiker067

    B_spiker067 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2006
    Messages:
    2,189
    Likes Received:
    0
    Rob,

    I think you are wrong because we did get the latter and not the former anyways. If voting was held off for a week or two we would more than likely have a larger national discussion and probably get it right. Note the theory about collective wisdom which lynch pins this idea.

    This is obviously won't work like an unincorporated township might.
     
Draft saved Draft deleted