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Hybrid Reprentative and Direct Democracy

Do you agree it would be a good idea to create a Hybrid gov't as described below


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Naburus

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This is a question I wrestle with regularly. Would you approve of the idea below; originally presented as a question to senators via questions.rockthevote.com? If you do approve or disapprove of the idea, how might you improve it, or what suggestions would you make for its implementation?

"It is apparent to me that our senators and congressman have no ability (or possibly desire) to listen to the will of the people. They campaign often on attack ads against one another, slandering the other party to gain office. Once in office they shape policy based on their own ideology even though they spout on television and in print that "The American people want..." or "The American people say..." based on random sampled polls by independent agencies which may or may not be biased.

In the era of technology we all live in, isn't time we make it possible for the American people to be more involved in public policy?

I don't know that this is the most effective way to handle the situation and I recognize that these questions are being sent to potential senators, but, I suggest we create a format where Americans can vote on policy issues, up or down, after having been presented the facts on that policy, through a government based website. Maybe even going as far as weighing these votes to count as one or more senate/congressional votes when counting votes to pass or reject a particular policy proposal. This would for the first time in the modern era where government would give Americans an actual voice in public policy.

As an aside note, just to qualify why I say that our representatives do not listen to constituents. I wrote a letter/email to all of my representatives in congress/senate/ and the white house. This letter addressed specific concerns and asked specific questions. In response from each of these individuals, I received a canned email/letter that did not address a single area that was proposed in my initial communication. So, obviously these representatives either aren't interested or do not have time to field the concerns and respond to queries by individual concerned citizens that elected them to their office under the guise of representation."

Beyond the question above, I will mention, since on another site I got a lot of statements about the American public in general being unfit to vote on important topics directly; If it were up to me to create the legislation that enables this system, I would make each individual voting on a topic answer a small set of questions about the legislation they are voting on, prior to accepting their vote. In my opinion if people can't take an hour or two to understand what they're voting on, they probably shouldn't be voting anyhow. This would prevent the average run of the mill ingrate from being sheepishly led into voting a specific way. I accept that this is hypothetically an exclusionary policy, however, it only excludes the people who aren't willing to put in any effort to know what they're voting on. They are no longer excluded if they do some research. If anything, I think this would encourage the American public to be more educated on the political climate. Which could create a groundswell for reform in many areas.

Thanks for reading and I look forward to seeing a little discussion on the topic. Please, if you disagree with anything I've said, don't just tell me you disagree, but offer a solution to how you would change the system instead. I find it hard to believe that anyone who is posting on these forums feels like we're operating the perfect governmental system.
 

MaggieD

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This is a question I wrestle with regularly. Would you approve of the idea below; originally presented as a question to senators via questions.rockthevote.com? If you do approve or disapprove of the idea, how might you improve it, or what suggestions would you make for its implementation?

"It is apparent to me that our senators and congressman have no ability (or possibly desire) to listen to the will of the people. They campaign often on attack ads against one another, slandering the other party to gain office. Once in office they shape policy based on their own ideology even though they spout on television and in print that "The American people want..." or "The American people say..." based on random sampled polls by independent agencies which may or may not be biased.

In the era of technology we all live in, isn't time we make it possible for the American people to be more involved in public policy?

I don't know that this is the most effective way to handle the situation and I recognize that these questions are being sent to potential senators, but, I suggest we create a format where Americans can vote on policy issues, up or down, after having been presented the facts on that policy, through a government based website. Maybe even going as far as weighing these votes to count as one or more senate/congressional votes when counting votes to pass or reject a particular policy proposal. This would for the first time in the modern era where government would give Americans an actual voice in public policy.

As an aside note, just to qualify why I say that our representatives do not listen to constituents. I wrote a letter/email to all of my representatives in congress/senate/ and the white house. This letter addressed specific concerns and asked specific questions. In response from each of these individuals, I received a canned email/letter that did not address a single area that was proposed in my initial communication. So, obviously these representatives either aren't interested or do not have time to field the concerns and respond to queries by individual concerned citizens that elected them to their office under the guise of representation."

Beyond the question above, I will mention, since on another site I got a lot of statements about the American public in general being unfit to vote on important topics directly; If it were up to me to create the legislation that enables this system, I would make each individual voting on a topic answer a small set of questions about the legislation they are voting on, prior to accepting their vote. In my opinion if people can't take an hour or two to understand what they're voting on, they probably shouldn't be voting anyhow. This would prevent the average run of the mill ingrate from being sheepishly led into voting a specific way. I accept that this is hypothetically an exclusionary policy, however, it only excludes the people who aren't willing to put in any effort to know what they're voting on. They are no longer excluded if they do some research. If anything, I think this would encourage the American public to be more educated on the political climate. Which could create a groundswell for reform in many areas.

Thanks for reading and I look forward to seeing a little discussion on the topic. Please, if you disagree with anything I've said, don't just tell me you disagree, but offer a solution to how you would change the system instead. I find it hard to believe that anyone who is posting on these forums feels like we're operating the perfect governmental system.

I think your idea is well-intentioned but flawed. There is simply no way the American people can be (or even should be) informed well enough on most issues to make intelligent decisions. People are busy raising families and putting food on the table. Most people just don't care -- as long as the government doesn't gore their ox. Besides that, popular decisions aren't necessarily good ones.

How I would change the system. Huh. I wish I knew. I guess I'd start a new party. One whose platform included term limits above all else. If there were term limits, encumbants would lose their tremendous advantage and the American people would, possibly, have a snowball's chance in hell of effecting change.
 

Naburus

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I think your idea is well-intentioned but flawed. There is simply no way the American people can be (or even should be) informed well enough on most issues to make intelligent decisions. People are busy raising families and putting food on the table. Most people just don't care -- as long as the government doesn't gore their ox. Besides that, popular decisions aren't necessarily good ones.

How I would change the system. Huh. I wish I knew. I guess I'd start a new party. One whose platform included term limits above all else. If there were term limits, encumbants would lose their tremendous advantage and the American people would, possibly, have a snowball's chance in hell of effecting change.

Thanks for the response!

Are you suggesting that the flaw in my system is that people simply do not have time or energy to keep up with politics enough to make it useful? I cannot personally see any logical reason why people shouldn't be more informed about every topic if possible. I will say, maybe this system probably wouldn't and shouldn't apply to every single thing the senate votes on. But, on hot button issues, it would be fantastic to get an authentic sense of what the public actually wants. This is all hypothetical conjecture at this point, but, maybe the votes don't count toward anything until 10% of eligible voters have voted on the topic, which would signify its importance to the public. Then it would count as more and more votes as higher percentages of the public vote. Maybe every 10% is worth 1 senate vote, or something along those lines? The only way that I envisioned educating the people is through the voting website, which would actually have an informational section on the bill you are voting on which you could review prior to voting. This section would contain the entirety of the proposed legislation and also a "key-points" section. Though to pass the questionnaire you would probably have to review the entire legislation. (In some cases a different approach may be necessary, legislation is often confusing and difficult to follow. Maybe it is someones sole job to bullet in plain English what every section of the bill is describing specifically?)

As you mention, most people just don't care. If that's the case, they can continue their lives not caring and continue allowing the people that do care to make their decisions for them. As Mike Gravel mentioned about a direct system, as soon as a bill passes that makes things worse for those that didn't care, they'll vote the next time.

I will agree that popular decisions will quite often not be the correct ones, and that is my only hesitation in this type of policy, but though I don't have an idea on the top of my head. There has to be a way to prevent the shortsightedness a lot of us could potentially suffer from. The main way I think shortsightedness would be prevented, is that legislation passing or failing doesn't lie solely in the hands of the public. We would still have congress and the senate. But, we would just be able to be included directly as well. If a bill is proposed that reduces taxes 80% but would destroy medicare, balloon the deficit, and cut our military size by 50%. You can guarantee some Americans or maybe even many, would vote yes. Because we love not paying taxes. But, also, most senators and congressman would probably vote no. Which would maintain some type of checks and balances.

I agree on term limits, it works for the president, why not other areas of government? I'm sure there are positives and negatives to term limits and I haven't thought through them yet. But, at first pass, I agree they should be implemented. Starting a new party is a useful but difficult alternative. It's extremely tough to raise the money to run a political campaign. The average well intentioned person who genuinely cares about what happens to the country and the people contained within, doesn't have a chance of running for office. Since the cost of doing so is unreasonable. You can't get exposure to the public without millions of dollars. Most people don't make more than 2-3 million dollars in their entire lifetime. More so than creating a new political party, I think we should abolish political parties entirely. I would be much happier if people presented themselves for what they stood for specifically rather than labeling democrat/republic/independent/green or whatever else. I don't really care what political party someone runs with, it makes more sense to me to evaluate them on their policies than their alliances. Too many people go to the ballots on voting day just to vote the party line, rather than researching or caring what anyone their voting for stands for. (I don't know the number of people who do this, but I can guarantee it's at least one, and in my opinion that's too many)
 
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MaggieD

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Thanks for the response!

Are you suggesting that the flaw in my system is that people simply do not have time or energy to keep up with politics enough to make it useful? I cannot personally see any logical reason why people shouldn't be more informed about every topic if possible. I will say, maybe this system probably wouldn't and shouldn't apply to every single thing the senate votes on. But, on hot button issues, it would be fantastic to get an authentic sense of what the public actually wants. This is all hypothetical conjecture at this point, but, maybe the votes don't count toward anything until 10% of eligible voters have voted on the topic, which would signify its importance to the public. Then it would count as more and more votes as higher percentages of the public vote. Maybe every 10% is worth 1 senate vote, or something along those lines? The only way that I envisioned educating the people is through the voting website, which would actually have an informational section on the bill you are voting on which you could review prior to voting. This section would contain the entirety of the proposed legislation and also a "key-points" section. Though to pass the questionnaire you would probably have to review the entire legislation. (In some cases a different approach may be necessary, legislation is often confusing and difficult to follow. Maybe it is someones sole job to bullet in plain English what every section of the bill is describing specifically?)

Ah, even assuming that, as an example, the healthcare bill (2000 pages) could be reduced to bullet points, who would write them? And who would pick them apart after they were written? Can't you just imagine - ha!

As you mention, most people just don't care. If that's the case, they can continue their lives not caring and continue allowing the people that do care to make their decisions for them. As Mike Gravel mentioned about a direct system, as soon as a bill passes that makes things worse for those that didn't care, they'll vote the next time.

Well, I could see an online "advisory vote." But keeping it honest would be a virtual nightmare.

I will agree that popular decisions will quite often not be the correct ones, and that is my only hesitation in this type of policy, but though I don't have an idea on the top of my head. There has to be a way to prevent the shortsightedness a lot of us could potentially suffer from. The main way I think shortsightedness would be prevented, is that legislation passing or failing doesn't lie solely in the hands of the public. We would still have congress and the senate. But, we would just be able to be included directly as well. If a bill is proposed that reduces taxes 80% but would destroy medicare, balloon the deficit, and cut our military size by 50%. You can guarantee some Americans or maybe even many, would vote yes. Because we love not paying taxes. But, also, most senators and congressman would probably vote no. Which would maintain some type of checks and balances.

I guess that's what you're saying -- an advisory-type poll. But how would one keep the numbers honest?

I agree on term limits, it works for the president, why not other areas of government? I'm sure there are positives and negatives to term limits and I haven't thought through them yet. But, at first pass, I agree they should be implemented. Starting a new party is a useful but difficult alternative. It's extremely tough to raise the money to run a political campaign. The average well intentioned person who genuinely cares about what happens to the country and the people contained within, doesn't have a chance of running for office. Since the cost of doing so is unreasonable. You can't get exposure to the public without millions of dollars. Most people don't make more than 2-3 million dollars in their entire lifetime. More so than creating a new political party, I think we should abolish political parties entirely. I would be much happier if people presented themselves for what they stood for specifically rather than labeling democrat/republic/independent/green or whatever else. I don't really care what political party someone runs with, it makes more sense to me to evaluate them on their policies than their alliances. Too many people go to the ballots on voting day just to vote the party line, rather than researching or caring what anyone their voting for stands for. (I don't know the number of people who do this, but I can guarantee it's at least one, and in my opinion that's too many)

We'd agree there, then. I'm still naively hoping that the Republican Party's Contract with America they're supposed to come out with after Labor Day will address term limits. Of course, it's one thing to put it in a Contract with America, to run on that premise and win on that premise -- but it's quite another thing to actually have the will to get the job done. Or the votes.

Our votes at the polls mean less and less every election year. We're party line voters pure and simple. My plan for the next election is to vote against every single encumbant on the Republican ballot. I figure if enough people do that, Congress will get the message that we're sick and tired of "business as usual."

I admire the thought you've put into your position! Keep up the great work!
 

Naburus

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Ah, even assuming that, as an example, the healthcare bill (2000 pages) could be reduced to bullet points, who would write them? And who would pick them apart after they were written? Can't you just imagine - ha!



Well, I could see an online "advisory vote." But keeping it honest would be a virtual nightmare.



I guess that's what you're saying -- an advisory-type poll. But how would one keep the numbers honest?



We'd agree there, then. I'm still naively hoping that the Republican Party's Contract with America they're supposed to come out with after Labor Day will address term limits. Of course, it's one thing to put it in a Contract with America, to run on that premise and win on that premise -- but it's quite another thing to actually have the will to get the job done. Or the votes.

Our votes at the polls mean less and less every election year. We're party line voters pure and simple. My plan for the next election is to vote against every single encumbant on the Republican ballot. I figure if enough people do that, Congress will get the message that we're sick and tired of "business as usual."

I admire the thought you've put into your position! Keep up the great work!

Thank you for the compliment. I try to think deeply about an issue and consider alternatives as best I can before presenting it to someone for debate. Otherwise, it's less of a debate and more of an inquiry. Since I wouldn't be able to defend my position at all.

As far as who writes the bullets and who picks them apart, I'm not sure. This would be a government created organization in my mind. So, we'd probably hire more people than are necessary, and have them work at about 50% capacity each to handle the task. We could probably count on political watch dogs to ensure the information being provided is accurate, such as factcheck.org and politifact.com. How we get people to double check these sites is beyond me. I can only hope that this all operates with some sense of honesty, similar to how we hope the congressional budget office operates in an unbiased and honest fashion.

I agree that keeping it honest would be difficult, but, its about as difficult as keeping our regular elections honest. Personally I think the most simple way would be to follow suit with online banking/applying for the FAFSA. To apply for your FAFSA you need your SSN, and a 4 digit PIN, provided by a government PIN office. I would say, if we take this a step further, that you need your SSN, a strong password or even passphrase (8-20 characters), plus a few personal questions as you've seen lately. Such as, "What is your mothers maiden name?", "What was the name of your first pet?", and "Who actually did cut the cheese?". If you can supply all this needed information prior to your vote, the odds are, its probably not a stolen identity. We know the age of everyone with an SSN so, we know how many votes we can have total. We just keep the counting system under strict control like any other government records system and that's about as honest as I can imagine making it. At least when it comes to assuring people are actually voting independently.

I'm not sure I would call it an advisory vote or poll. Though in essence it would serve that purpose as well. It would be like an advisory poll, but with some weight behind it. I'm not too familiar with the process of voting on initiatives and referendums in the US, which is what I've usually heard advisory votes referenced in relation to. But, by what I can tell, the people vote, and then the bill passes or fails based on this vote. I could be missing a step, maybe the people vote, and the representatives take this into consideration when doing their own vote, I'm not sure. However, the system I'm stating is, the people vote, their votes are weighted as equal to X amount of senate/congressional votes, this number could be determined proportionally to eligible voter turnout. With higher percentages counting as a higher number of votes. Simultaneously, or within a reasonable time-frame after the people vote. The legislative branch votes. Then all votes are tallied and it is decided if a bill passes or fails. I'm not sure if that would be considered an advisory vote or what you would call it.

I agree that our votes count less and less, that's probably related to a lot of factors. Two that I should probably do more research on before discussing, but will mention anyhow, are Gerrymandering, and the Electoral College. Through Gerrymandering elected officials can redraw their districts excluding voters that are likely to vote against them and including voters that will help them for re-election. This process seems very underhanded and dishonest and in my opinion should be entirely removed from our political process, or at the very least only usable in the hands of an unbiased agency (At times it may be sensible to redraw a district if a specific area has changed from a bustling production center to a vacuous ghost town). Then, the Electoral College, I don't understand the benefits of this system, and if someone else does, feel free to educate me. But, one thing that specifically bothers me about it is this; When voting in elections every citizens vote is hypothetically equal to every other citizens vote. But, with the electoral college in place, a vote in California is actually worth significantly more than a vote in North Dakota. Since getting a majority in California will garner far more electoral college votes, than getting a majority in North Dakota. I think we should just stick with the popular vote. It makes a lot more sense to me.

Also, I don't know if only voting out the incumbent republicans will fix the issue, there are assuredly some flawed incumbent dems too. I think the best way to tell Washington we're finished with business as usual is to demand more direct involvement in government. People need to start realizing, this is our country, and we have the right to run it how we feel best suits us. This sentiment was echoed by Thomas Jefferson in his original preamble to the declaration of independence (below), and agreed upon by all the signers of the official declaration of independence which maintains the quote below with some modified verbiage and additional statements (also listed below).

"We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable; that all men are created equal & independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these ends, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government shall become destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, & to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles & organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety & happiness." -- Thomas Jefferson

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security." -- Declaration of Independence

Now Thomas Jefferson was known to say some radical things, and I certainly do not agree with all of them, or advocate an entire government revamp. I just think it's about time we be given the right to participate more directly. We're a more educated people than some of us like to admit.
 
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Goshin

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Pick Congress at random.


It would be an improvement. Seriously. No more professional legislators (AKA "ruling class"}.
 

Naburus

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Pick Congress at random.


It would be an improvement. Seriously. No more professional legislators (AKA "ruling class"}.

Though it may bring a hint of honesty to the position. I don't know that it would be a particularly good idea. Maybe pick Congress at random from a pool of political science graduates or something. Though it may not look like it, I'm pretty sure actually being a Congressman or Senator takes some sort of unique skill set. I don't know that legislatures necessarily act as a ruling class, although they do control how pretty much everything operates. We do put them there. If we collectively want someone else to rule, we can vote them in, it's our decision. We just generally choose to let the people currently in power decide who our options are on the ballots.
 

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Direct democracy is an absolute evil on any level. Hell, just democracy is.

I would go in-depth since this thread seems to have long posts, but I'll just sum it up by quickly quoting Churchill: The biggest argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with your average voter.
 

Naburus

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Direct democracy is an absolute evil on any level. Hell, just democracy is.

I would go in-depth since this thread seems to have long posts, but I'll just sum it up by quickly quoting Churchill: The biggest argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with your average voter.

I'll quote Socrates to start - "The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance"

I don't think it's sensible to run around calling things evil and thinking that automatically qualifies your statement. Evil is a notion created by humanity, and whether something is evil or not is subjective. However, I agree direct democracy can be problematic, and democracy of any capacity can have problems. This is an easy demonstration of how difficult it is to get people of differing motivations to move in a common direction. I am not sure that a perfect form of government will ever be realized, but, it is our duty (in my opinion as well as the opinion of the founding fathers) to continually work to improve the form of government we have created. I don't advocate direct democracy, if you read over the long posts above it shows what I'm discussing is a deviation from this. Possibly unique in nature from what has ever been suggested in the past. Though before I take credit for anything, I would have to do more research on the topic.

I definitely see your point in quoting Winston Churchill, and I agree wholeheartedly. I specifically addressed this statement in an earlier post in this thread.

I would be extremely interested for you to go in depth, as I have been surprised at how little people have commented on this thread considering some of the contents of my posts.
 
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