While I still have some pretty strong political beliefs, I try not to shove my thoughts down other people’s throats like I used to. I’ve been tossing around an idea for a few months now, though, that I think presents a pretty interesting thought exercise.
We have 435 Representatives in the House and 100 Senators in the Senate. These elected officials are ostensibly in Washington to support the interests of their constituents. But this is impossible: they’re more like an individual pixel on a black and white television whis shows a larger picture of our nation. That pixel can only be black or white. Yes or no. Yay or nay.
Back in “the day”, this made sense but what about now? Justin Amash posts every vote that he makes and explains why which is a fantastic step in the march towards transparency.
So here’s the idea: What if we every person had the ability to vote on every issue?
Preposterous! Insane! Asinine! Impossible!
I can hear it now: “There’s no way every person could know enough about every issue to make an informed decision.” And I would counter, “As it stands, members of Congress are often thrown large reams of paper with small print minutes before having to vote and they may only have a chance to take a cursory glance at the proposed bill.”
I would suggest that by concentrating power, we run a higher risk of corruption of power. If House of Cards has taught us anything it’s that Lord Baron’s observation was true: “power tends to corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Many people vote based on their most important issue: pro-choice vs. pro-life, gay rights vs. traditional marriage, etc. The lesser of two evils is quite often chosen because let’s face it: there’s never a candidate who has positions on all issues that align perfectly with our own. But if every person can vote on every issue then settling never has to be a necessity again. Of course I don’t believe that every person would vote on every issue. But I do think that interesting central voting authorities would develop to lobby for individual’s to assign their proxy rights to vote on particular things.
Let’s say that you support the NOH8 campaign that has been going around. What if instead of raising money to spread the word, they collected proxies to vote on issues surrounding gay marriage? Focus on the Family would likely collect proxies of traditional Christians to vote not only on issues surrounding gay marriage but also a host of other issues that they care about. I would suggest that a central tenet be that proxies could be reassigned at any time prior to the vote. This breaks voting from its regimented past and transforms it into a very fluid way of expressing our nations desires.
One positive thing I see coming out of this is that we sidestep the issues of concentrated benefits and distributed costs. Farming subsidies still exist because they benefit farmers in large amounts and only cost the average American a few pennies. Any lawmaker that made it his mission to eliminate this pork barrel spending would gain some vehement enemies and those of us that saved a few pennies probably would even think twice about what he did. But since everyone is now voting and elected officials are no longer in office, there are no reelection campaigns to worry about and we instead see a purer form of law.
I’m interested in hearing your thoughts. I’m sure there are many holes in my idea and many things that I haven’t thought about yet. Enjoy the thought experiment!