Politics, Sundry, Technical, Technology

Political Pot-Pourri

(Watch out, rant coming forth!)

I met a cool freak yesterday at the Union lab. You see why I like labs? We’re both here now. He’s a self-educated computer geek, and a writing studies sort. You see his web page he’s working on a collaborative writing CGI. I was walking past and saw Perl code, did a double-take, and we started talking.

Well, that’s nice. Yesterday was an errand-running day. I returned library books, renewing one by Frederick Pohl that I haven’t finished with. Then I took the bus out to Jewel, spending nearly $40 on groceries, which is more than I’d wanted to spend, but I made a really good haul, so I can’t complain. I’ll be eating well. I bought lunchmeats, cheese, and romaine lettuce for lunchtimes. I’ve settled on purchasing milk, eggs and bread at local convenience stores though. Perishables I go through quickly see? Anyways, I didn’t skimp on ingredients. The cheese is sliced deli cheese, cheddar and swiss. The romaine lettuce don’t seem so cheap either. I also stocked in some Peanut Butter and Jelly, the old standby.

What else? Some Turkey dogs for Mac & Cheese, some spaghetti sauce, and garlic bread … mm! That’s gonna be good. I picked up some Matt’s Fig Newtons as I like Fig Newtons. They seemed right tasty. I made a rule for myself though that I shall only buy one package of cookies per shopping trip. Their expensive and spoil my appetite for a real meal if I’m reckless. Ah well.

Ran into Mary and Phil, we did a little bowling. I caught sight of Asao there and it messed with my game some. I still missed her. Still haven’t figured her out either. Well, managed to get it off my mind pretty well. She seemed to be enjoying her self pretty much. Hard to tell, of course as I didn’t approach her and she tends not to be too expressive.

So, I been thinkin’ you know … about the American electoral process. It sucks you know? You can run out of money, and have to withdraw from an election. That means that to be elected to public office you have to curry favor with the monied interests, and that’s not representative. That and ya got all these lamers who refuse to vote because they just don’t see any point to it. Whoever wins, the results will be pretty much the same, since the Democrats act like lame wannabe Republicans, or so it sometimes seems. Just this morning I heard that the White House put out some document on their thoughts on the Internet, and it was concerned mainly with how commerce could take place, not so much with the human potential the thing offers. As well, old man Clinton was supposedly defending the Communications Decency Act … sheesh!

I remember in PoliSci 150 with Joe Miller. He talked to us some about Proportional Representation, the idea that instead of winner-take-all you kinda break the political spoils down into a certain number of representatives per party depending on what percentage of the vote they got. Each party could have a list of candidates they’d send, and however many the election entitled them to, that’s how many of that list they’d send to office.

I proposed in class that perhaps any state willing to try could easily enact a scheme like this with their House representatives. Say, Illinois has 30 folks or however many they send to the House of Representatives, but instead of picking those by district, they just throw them all in a big ol’ PR pot and depending what percentage of the state vote their party gets, that’s how many get sent to Washington. Joe got all upset about this it seemed saying that it would be bad for people to not be represented geographically, but the way I see it, it’s more what your ideology is, isn’t it? Especially if you’re an obscure “radical” like Joe.

Anyways, if yer worried about rural representation, then a major party would have to represent itself to rural constituencies for fear that they might lose that constituency to another, possibly third party. This would alleviate voter angst somewhat, I’d think, because partys could fill niche rolls for different ideologies and interests. Staunch environmentalists could vote green, say. Farmers could vote for Farm-interest parties. When you get to Washington then the special interests are more clearly marked based on the popular constituencies, and less on PAC or corporate monies. At least, that’s what I’d hope. To be a successful major party then, one would need to develop a platform that appeals in some rational manner to a wide array of newly-awakened popular political interests.

Well, no-one said I was ever an expert.

Another time, I believe, it was proposed that with technology and all, direct participatory democracy could be achieved. Well, we run into the problems of “mobocracy” and the fact that it take a lot of work to run a government. Well, I’d think to take PR to it’s logical extreme conclusion then, which I would think would be proxy democracy.

See, take mom for example. I’m a politics geek moreso than she is. she has better things to do. Sometimes she’s consulted with me on ways to vote, you know, which candidate? Well, why bother with that, when she could say, just give me or someone else whose judgment she respects proxy power over her single vote? This would maybe work again in a forum like a House of Representatives where at least there you are in theory representing the individual voices of several Americans. I could in turn assign my proxy to another proxy broker or whatever, who I can consult with on his decisions, which might in turn be selecting another broker, or direct representative perhaps. See, this way people have much more encouragement to be involved in the system. Anyone could be their proxy, so it comes more instead of deciding between two bozos more of deciding who your ideal candidate might be .. like shopping for a car. By assigning your proxy to someone you’re stating that you feel confident in the decisions they might make. It’s a far more personal fit than a normal election, so you put more effort, more political awareness and activity, in to making the right choice. At least, one would hope.

In theory, you could then perhaps have several multitudes of representatives – small proxy holders. Well, it might get a bit crowded to implement. Of course, tele-whatever could be used for such folks to discuss the fate of their government, and act accordingly. But if you wanted to be more old-fashioned, you could make a cut-off, say … only the top 38 or whatever number of representatives you want get to go to Congress, with each of those representatives having their votes weighed in proportion to the number of voters they represent, the number of proxies they hold. Proxy holders who don’t have enough votes to make it to Congress have to select their most favored representative to assign their proxies to.

This might confuse the hell out of Corporate America, and other monetary contributers, as the system is very populist, a potential nightmare though, to implement! Imagine the paperwork.

But we don’t have to do this zaniness based on election cycle, eh? You know how a corporation works? Who owns the most stock controls the company, or who owns a significant proportion may sit on the board of directors? Well, say some fool starts making bad decisions, he starts losing his proxies. He makes enough bad decisions he’s outta office. The real power then, gets kinda defused in the larger intermediate proxy brokers who have much control over whether a candidate stays in office.

This also distributes the load of a representatives job. They’re responsible directly to a smaller group of proxy holders who trust them to be doing the job right. They can explain their decisions to this perhaps smallish group, and consult with these “wizened” leaders or whatever, who can in turn come around and address their proxy holders as to why the representative is making the calls he makes. Mr. Representative doesn’t have to commute so much to his district to be in touch with voters, his proxy holders give him the poop. And if they start acting too elitist or anything, of course they start losing their powers.

Fraud becomes much easier though. But then, perhaps, less likely, at least at higher levels, where you have a public trust that the media would be very interested in investigating, no?

Eh, I’m wacko.

NOTE – 19 February, 2002: I’m not the only wacko. And some folks take their own ideas more seriously. If this idea strikes your fancy at all, check out http://www.directrep.org/.

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Categories: Politics, Sundry, Technical, Technology