No, there have not been 1,586 previous silly thoughts. Silly me, I made the number up.
This is something I’ve thought about for over 15 years. It got a boost in 2001, when The Patriot Act was passed. The actual bill was printed out in the wee hours of the morning, the middle of the night, on the same day when the U.S. House was supposed to vote on it. It ran many, many thousands of pages, as I think I heard. And yet, the Congressmen were supposed to vote on this thing that nthey had not even had a chance to read.
Well, Congressman John Conyers was asked by a young journalist about just this point, during that day – “Congressman, how can all of you vote on something that just got published a few hours ago? You cannot have had a chance to read it yet.”
This is one time a politician wasn’t lying when his lips moved. Conyers looked him in the eye and said, “Son, do you think that we ever get a chance to read the bills we vote on?”
Now, to me that was a seminal moment.
Hell, I thought, if THEY don’t read them, they aren’t casting an informed vote. And HELLS BELLS, WE can do THAT ourselves! WTF do we need THEM for, if their votes aren’t even informed votes? I can cast an uninformed vote with the best of them!
But, that being early in the Internet Age, I thought about a couple of aspects of all of that…
WHY WE HAVE REPRESENTATIVES AT ALL – MY TAKE ON IT
Representatives are actually proxy voters. Anyone in an owners association would know what that is – where people who aren’t able to get to a particular meeting where a vote will be taken are able to give someone else the right to cast their vote, officially and legally. So, IMO representatives cast our proxy votes for us. In our elections we choose the ones we want to cast the proxy votes for everyone in their legislative district, be it precinct, county board, state legislature, U.S. House, or U.S. Senate.
Now, I reasoned, in the early days, not everyone COULD get to the meeting halls. People had farms and stores and workshops to attend to, and couldn’t get to the Town Hall or the State Building, so they designated someone to cast their proxy votes. Travel was not sufficient to allow them to do both – run their lives and businesses and farms AND get to the voting place. So, we have representatives as proxy voters. Well and good.
DO WE STILL NEED THEM?
But even back in 2001 the Internet had turned the world on its head, and now even more so, that scenario doesn’t hold true anymore. We CAN get to the voting place – because the voting can be done ONLINE. And we can also access ONLINE the same information on bills that the Congressmen do. So, we can be every bit as informed – or uninformed – as the representatives are. We can choose to not read the bills we vote on – OR, we can actually READ them. And cast – GASP ! – informed votes.
Oh, the tech doesn’t exist in that exact form right now – but it is completely doable to create such a voting apparatus ONLINE. It only would need to be authorized and paid for.
But it can be done.
Back in 2001, when I suggested such a ting, I was told, “No, the voting wouldn’t be secure enough. They could right the election, and who would know?”
This from someone in the U.S., where elections have been rigged since time immemorial. This in a country that IN THAT VERY YEAR was still using paper ballots. This in the country with – though we didn’t know it quite yet – Diebold and its infamous vote cheating voting machines. This in the country where dead people vote. This in a country where lobbyists inveigh our proxy voters to do quid pro quo (under the table, of course) for services (votes) rendered. This in the country that now has “1 Corporate Dollar, 1 vote”, instead of “One Man, One Vote”. This in a country where states are now allowed to restrict voting rights. This in a country that has proxy voters that people think are crooks and pawns of the 1%ers.
This was in a time when not so many people bought things online. So many people back then, when I told them, “Well I buy tings online,” replied with horror, “But aren’t you afraid they will steal your money or teal your credit card info?” Nowadays, everybody buys online and doesn’t think anything of it. The banks and merchants and software companies have made online banking as secure as it ever was when we went to the bank down the block.
So, at this time, if I mention voting online – on Election Day – people think that either it is already being done or soon will be.
But do we have to restrict our voting only to Election Day? Why can’t we just dispense with the proxy voters, the representative, and just do it ourselves?
WHO NEEDS PROXY VOTERS, ANYWAY?
The more time has gone on, the more this seems doable. The governments all have non-representatives who run the government day-to-day. We refer to them, denigratingly, as bureaucrats. We can have then compile suggested bills – perhaps even some of them to write them up in some standard format (with hyperlinks, of course), and post each onto its own web page, with a page of upcoming bills listed and the status of each shown. Each of those ages would link to the text and link to position papers, to blog pages for comments and discussion, to persuasion pages, to expected taxpayer cost pages (down to what added taxes each citizen would incur) – all sorts of related pages, so that the citizen can inform him/herself of any detail he/she so chooses to inquire about.
I am not kidding. This system could work. Details? It can be detailed out later. I am just broaching the subject. Switzerland voters ALL convene in one place to vote, and all at the same time, in concert. This can be done online as easily as in a town square. And with millions of people voting, BETTER online.
As much as I respect John Conyers (he was on the Watergate Committee), I have to say that I don’t like his way of doing government – if proxy voters are casting votes on bills they haven’t even read. (I imagine that they DO get informed – by lobbyists.) If we are going to have uninformed votes or bought votes, I’d rather that each of those uninformed or bought votes be one of many thousands or millions, rather than one of a few score or a few hundred.
The cost of this? It can be paid for by the money we save in not having to support the lavish and pandered lifestyles of our proxy voter representatives. And think of all the money that can be saved by not having all those ELECTIONS.
The only elections we’d need is for our Executive Branch people, who run the day-to-day government functions.
OR: We can do it the way City Manager municipalities currently are run – with a HIRED City Manager, who runs things, – while the voted-in Mayor kisses babies and eats rubber chicken at fests. It might be a time to see how well that could run on different operational levels.
So, those are my silly thoughts on this.