The Simple Answer To The Crisis: Replace Voter Democracy With E-Vote
The current economic meltdown has caused much weeping and gnashing of teeth much of it centered around the debate of whether the very essence of our democracy, Free Enterprise, has failed us.
In my How The Socialist States Of America Fell Off The Wagoner and Why Does Socialism Always Fail? Hubs, I explain that the crisis was not an essential flaw in the Free Enterprise system, but an administrative and bureaucratic breakdown in the Bush Administration's criminal apathy and distraction in failing to ensure that the relevant US agencies enforced the pertinent and applicable laws and regulations to keep the Subprime greed-merchants from demolishing the economy of the planet. However, there is an ideological debate incorporated within this issue which is difficult to evade: Has Democracy Failed Us?
My answer, in short, is yes.
Our current system of democratic representation is a creaky outdated antique which has no more relevance to the 21st century as the horse and buggy or the cotton gin.
Let's analyze why we have the democratic system that we do. It is the latter half of the 18th century: The founding fathers of the United States of America are structuring a system of government to replace the British monarchist rule present in the 13 Colonies. Although Britain has a Parliament, the rule of the King is paramount and can overrule Parliament at any time, and thus is fully unacceptable to the new, egalitarian Americans.
The founding fathers realize that the widespread population of the young country is spread out all over the eastern seaboard, thus the methods of representation of the citizen which are possible in the much smaller nations of the Old World cannot be applied to the new, enormous country. Therefore, it is decided that each community or zone would elect representatives to the U.S. Congress, who would then travel to Washington, D.C. and for four years vote on legislative bills depending on their understanding of the opinions of their constituents. After all, it would be quite impractical to have every citizen vote on every bill and then send the slips of paper to Washington on horseback!
There is nothing wrong with this concept of democracy. If you're in the 18th century. However, we're not.
Right now I can click on a webcam to show me exactly what is going on right now the main street in my mom's hometown in Italy; I can get a live news report on the launching of a missile in North Korea; I can communicate to a friend in Australia how much I miss kangaroo stew. All of these events are in real time and instantaneous at the speed of light which separate me from Rome, Pyongyang, or Sydney by about 1/20th of a second.
Unfortunately, every American citizen is still separated from Washington, D.C. by a couple of centuries.
We still trudge in the snow and rain to a building and stand in line to put a mark on a piece of paper.
Er... exactly why?
The critical mass of computer usage in America certainly has now reached the level where the majority of Americans are comfortable using the internet. The ones who are not, can certainly use a phone or letter mail! Certainly anyone who can visit a polling place also knows how to send a postcard! So why are we still electing representatives to (mis)-represent us for four years. The only truly significant act they perform in Congress is voting on legislative bills on our behalf. Why? Why should they vote on my behalf? Why can't I vote on my behalf?
There is no reason to be represented. I have an opinion on various legislative bills. I want my vote to be applied to those bills as I see fit. Why should some politician take that power away from me and usurp it for themselves?
No reason at all. Not in the 21st century.
After studying the various attempts at electronic direct democracy, and learning from the mistakes of the various abortive attempted implementations, I have come up with a "stripped-down" E-Vote process which, IMHO, would essentially solve the basic problem of our democratic system and restore power to where it has always belonged: The voter, not the politician!
Here is the system in a very brief synopsis:
- Go to e-vote.whatever.gov
- Enter your confidential Main Voter Number and password
- You are provided with a Voter Verification Number that is only valid for that week's votes. Mark that number down.
- Vote on every single legislative bill for that week. On each bill you can choose to ABSTAIN to let your Congressman vote for you, override their vote with a NO, or override their vote with a YES.
To make sure that your vote isn't stolen or misapplied, the local post office has a board for your zip code with the local Voter Verification Numbers and the way everyone's voted that week.
The privacy of the vote is maintained, as not only does no one standing next to you know who AG47DE59NI93KQ02 is, but next week your number will be totally different so that there is no way for anyone to correlate the vote to you in any way.
If Congressman Kendall represents 1,000,000 voters, and his vote on Bill A this week is YES and 200,000 voters overrule him with NO, then his proportional vote is 80% YES, 20% NO. Bills pass or not on individual voter amounts, not Representative's voting numbers.
This can be set up in an even simpler fashion: Let the Representative vote, then you have a week to override them on any bill you want.
Dang. How simple is this entire system? You can let your Representative vote their conscience if you want, and nothing has changed for you. However, you can override their vote on any bill whenever you want to. The whole process would take at most a couple of minutes a week. Computer-illiterate? Use the phone or postal mail.
Don't want to participate? Then don't even bother e-voting. Heck, over two thirds of American registered voters did not vote for Barack Obama for President anyway, so if you don't vote, it's only your loss.
This system is so simple and fool-proof that not only would it completely change democracy the way it is understood around the world, but can be implemented today with negligible cost or upheaval. And it would empower the individual to make their own choices on the issues that matter to them, unlike now when citizens are all just vote-dispensing machines for the politicians to manipulate however they want.
So... what do you think?
Note: This is one of those Hubs which could have easily stretched over 25 separate pages, but I'm keeping this short and sweet to make it easily accessible to all. Should you want to see much more detail, either ask me to elaborate in the Comments, or ask me to write the 25 + other Hubs! I'll be happy to!