Official Disclaimer: I do not claim to hold any past, present, or future patents on any of these ideas. If you want to take this and do it yourself, go right ahead. All I ask is that you give me credit and maybe a couple consulting gigs once you make a pile of money. Seems fair to me.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Why I want to run for Congress.

Politics... few other subjects can be as interesting and frustrating at the same time. The one thing that frustrates me more than anything else about politics is lobbyists. Their voice has grown to become so much louder than the voice of the people. Their influence outweighs the wishes of citizens. I think it's time for them to be put in check.

I was laying in bed watching coverage of the election last November when I found this idea swirling around my head. As much as I ever have, I felt like the winners didn't even matter. I get the concept of having Senators and Representatives. It's a sensible solution to a very old problem; how do we make democratic decisions on a large scale when there are many citizens geographically separated? But what is their essential duty? We vote for them so that they can act as our proxy in Washington, where they will vote for bills and do politics type stuff. Unfortunately, this additional layer of democracy offers many opportunities for corruption.

How many times have you voted for a politician that you knew very little about besides their party affiliation? I thought so.

Historically, they have played their role simply because there aren't really any other options. We have designated election days where everybody goes and votes, and it is clear what a massive operation and burden this has become for governments. Without using a proxy, it would be a logistical nightmare to hold democratic elections for everything.

And that is exactly what I propose.

Modern day communications are quite a marvel. Look at any popular social networking service, and imagine that it existed during World War II. Everything would have been different. Imagine something like Twitter existing during The American Revolution. It's difficult to imagine exactly how things would have changed, just like it was difficult for our Founding Fathers to imagine what our country would be like centuries into the future.

Despite these advances, the basic structure of our government has never changed (with few exceptions, and always larger). And here lies the reason why I would run for Congress, best explained as follows:

As a representative of the people, I would honor that distinction rather than line my pockets with lobbyist funds. My own personal political beliefs would become irrelevant, as would my party affiliation. I would make available to the constituency a method for them to easily vote on any upcoming House bill. This would come in the form of Internet based technology such as a web page or cell phone app. Based on the outcome of this vote, as Representative, I would subsequently vote how the people in my district wish.

This effectively eliminates the influence of lobbyists as well as inherent drawbacks in using a representative based system. I, the representative, become irrelevant as a voting mechanism. I become a TRUE proxy of the people.

This is a very simplified and idealized description of this idea. I intend to cover more specific facets in future posts.


  1. I have been considering this problem for some time now, if only for British politics.
    One slight problem is that people are dumb. Senators and MPs act not only as a geographical proxy, but as a mediator for stupidity.
    Take for example the MMR vaccine scare. After this event, the majority of the public were outright scared of this vaccine. It was the duty of the politicians to educate themselves on this issue, and think about things rationally.
    In addition, educating oneself on a matter takes time. Most people will not be able to find enough time to learn about these issues.
    This could be partially solved by a few methods.
    Firstly, only a randomly selected subset of people could be permitted to vote on each issue. This would give people the opportunity to learn about the topic at hand, and make a rational informed decision.
    Still, people can be swayed by either effects, and most people are very capable of making bad decisions, even if they know all of the information.
    This could be solved by having people take a "Voting Exam". In the same way that a person driving a car, is likely to do harm if they are not able to control the vehicle, so could a person voting irrationally do harm. I suppose that the voting exam would consist of testing the subject's critical thinking skills and their ability to comprehend and utilize new information.

    I would love to hear your thoughts on this.


  2. It should be noted that such a system is very easy to exploit. Presumably few people will vote on most issues and only the loudest people will be heard. It's also easy for example a church or other groups leader to convince or pressure members to vote in a way that they want. This will greatly scew the results of that vote. A better idea would be to outlaw taking bribes ("campaign contributions"), getting rid of the horrible winner takes it all system and stuff like that.

  3. I thought of another thing as well: Most voters will not be educated about what they are voting about. They will not have read the bill nor have any specialist knowledge in that area.

  4. duralf2: Hopefully my screening test will help alleviate those issues. It should be designed such that people whose opinions are easily swayed with little evidence would not be allowed to vote for themselves. Perhaps each vote is submitted with a small exam to ensure that the voter is not completely ignorant of the matter at hand.

  5. Such a test would create a meritocracy in place of democracy -- not a bad thing, but it would be highly biased by the opinions of the one designing the test, and evaluating it. In the end, it would evolve into aristocracy.