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Electronic Representation

© March 2009 Anthony Lawrence

Right now, a lot of Americans are very angry with our elected representatives. The AIG scandal, the appointments of tax delinquents - it really doesn't matter if you are a life long Democrat or a life long Republican, it doesn't matter if you like Obama's Presidency or not: there's a lot to be angry about and we feel powerless.

One of the reasons we feel powerless is because often we are. All of my Congressional representatives are doing exactly what I want them to do: we're on the same page. But that doesn't really help, does it? There are all the other Representatives and Senators. I can send them letters, but I don't vote in their elections, I'm not their constituent, so that's almost pointless. I have no power.

I wish we could institute a "House of Commons" where all of us could vote electronically on any bill we chose to. Most of the time our votes would make no difference because not enough of us would bother to get involved. That's fine, but when a lot of us DO want to have our opinions heard, at least we could.

There are plenty of objections. How do you ensure security? Maybe this is an answer. Aren't we afraid of "mob rule"? Yes, definitely but perhaps the mass vote might be worth one Senatorial vote or two House of Representatives vote. Maybe more - I don't know what the right figure is but anything would give us some power. Maybe it's two House of Representatives votes AND one Senatorial vote.

In my imagination, I see it working like this. You register to vote just as you do now and get a token you can use for electronic voting on any bill. If less than a certain percentage of people bother to vote, the "Commons" vote is discarded. If enough people are interested, the winning vote gets counted and is part of the Congressional vote. What percentage? Again, I don't know. Is 50% of registered voters too few or too many? I don't know.

I do know this is probably unrealistic. Too radical, for one thing. And it's weak on being truly representative because Internet access isn't available to everyone. But it might just get more people involved in their own government and their own Government. It might also give some pause to other representatives when they see that the "Senator representing all of America" has voted on a certain bill. Our opinions and our votes definitely would matter.

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Sun Mar 22 15:58:34 2009: 5804   TonyLawrence

I was thinking about the "truly representative" issue and don't think it matters.

After all, this is only one or a few votes out of many. I suppose it could be a tie breaker at times, but so could some right wing Senator who doesn't represent me at all.. or I could live in a state where my Congress critters don't represent my views. I don't think that's a deal breaker.

Mon Mar 23 03:54:23 2009: 5817   Annonymous

You have just discribed one of the fundamental basis of the Swiss legal system. If 100,000 signatures out of a population of about 7 million are obtained then and new law can be forced to a national vote. Every 6 six weeks or so there is a round of national and local laws voted on. And the system has worked very nicely for the last 400 years. The American consitution was originally based on the Swiss consitution which has since been ammended on over 300 occasions. How many changes has the American one had?? And did you even get to vote on them?
Looks like you you guys live in a two party dictatorship to the rest of us

Mon Mar 23 10:29:18 2009: 5819   TonyLawrence

Interesting, though my idea is not to force a national vote - it's to have a vote or votes in Congress controlled by a popular vote. That vote would be electronic, from home or public computers..

No signatures to collect, no having to get to the polling place.. and not absolute power either as a national vote would be. This would just be a way for us to speak our minds and have some input to law making.

Mon Mar 23 15:51:30 2009: 5823   anonymous

You are correct to be thinking of yourself as a shareholder in a company with a real say in matters important. Except that company is the country you live in. And why shouldn't you be able to decide on every major issue of YOUR country. If shareholders in companies had had the say over the direction and risk that Banks and insurance companies took over the last few years you wouldn't be worrying about your pension plan. If you had had the ability to vote on whether your leaders choose to invade foreign sovereign states then maybe the parents of America wouldn't be once again morning their dead sons and daughters. And the 3 million poor displaced Iraqis would have real homes to live in.

Mon Mar 23 15:57:18 2009: 5824   TonyLawrence

Unfortunately, I think most Americans would have voted for war.

I can remember discussing this with a group of 10 or so. I said it was plain that Bush was trying to bully Iraq into a war by demanding more and more and that if that didn't work I felt that he'd lie and go in on a pretext.

Nobody agreed with me. They all felt Iraq was dangerous and that Bush was doing the right thing.

Americans are by and large ignorant yahoos. I'm thinking of this idea as useful because most of the yahoos wouldn't do it except for issues that emotionally incite them. The idea of it only being a vote or do would keep them from their own stupidity but might help the rest of us influence things now and then.


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