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Internet Based Political "Meta-Party" For Massachusetts 227

Posted by timothy
from the thought-you-said-mega-party dept.
sophiachou writes "The Free Government Party, a non-profit, open source political 'meta-party' focused on providing citizens with more direct control of Congress through online polling and user-drafted bills, seems to be looking for a candidate to endorse for US Representative of Massachusetts' 8th Congressional District. If you're from the Boston area, you might have seen this already on Craigslist. The chosen candidate will be bound by contract to vote in Congress only as do his or her constituents online. However, they don't seem to be going for direct democracy. To make voting convenient, you can select advisers to cast your votes for you, unless you do so yourself. Supposedly, interviews for the candidate position are already underway. Anyone from MA's 8th Congressional District on Slashdot already apply?"
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Internet Based Political "Meta-Party" For Massachusetts

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  • by jcr (53032) <jcr@@@mac...com> on Friday July 11, 2008 @12:36AM (#24148213) Journal

    The way we were supposed to choose our president was to know and vote for our electors, who were supposed to be the wisest people we knew. Political parties kind of buggered up the plan.

    -jcr

  • by Nefarious Wheel (628136) on Friday July 11, 2008 @12:46AM (#24148281) Journal
    "Democracy" doesn't seem to sound right in this context -- Is it pure democracy when you have so much legislation to read that you tend to skim bits, and let representatives - proxies, as it were - handle the rest? Answer: Perhaps, I think. Maybe not.

    And "Republic" doesn't seem to sound right either, when there is so much potential for this sort of system to take direct action. Is this right? Answer: Also "perhaps".

    How about a "Liberacy"? (a) Maybe, but it evokes the wrong sort of popular pianist to appeal to everyone. YMMV. But I think we've blurred the boundaries so far it's really hard to use the original terms for this sort of political party.

    But I think it's a great idea, myself.

  • by Sparr0 (451780) <sparr0@gmail.com> on Friday July 11, 2008 @12:55AM (#24148349) Homepage Journal

    Of course they aren't going for direct democracy. That is an organizational nightmare. Direct *Representation* is the model I have always advocated, and that is what they are doing. I should have a vote, and be able to give that vote to anyone that I feel is able to represent my views and interests best.

  • Direct democracy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Friday July 11, 2008 @12:58AM (#24148369) Journal
    I'm not sure I like the idea of this direct democracy, actually. For while our honorable congressmen are very often little worthy of respect, at least they have had to go through the process of convincing a million (or so, depending on the region) people that they have half a clue more than someone else. On the other hand, given the vast amounts of random cluelessness I hear from people in other places, I really don't trust people generally to make a good vote.

    Think of what we would have done if we were following the opinions of people just here on slashdot:
    • We would have disbanded our police force.
    • We would have invaded Israel.
    • We would have also invaded Iran.
    • And the headquarters of the RIAA.
    • No one would be able to find work, because we would have made corporations illegal while simultaneously destroying any Unions.
    • Everyone would have their idea of what was wrong, with no one knowing how to fix it.

    The whole thing reminds me of a chess game, Kasparov VS the World [wikipedia.org], in which Kasparov played against anyone who willing to log in to MSN to vote. On one move, 2.5% of the people voted for a move that was completely ILLEGAL. In that particular game, the world did manage to play a good game, but arguably only because a few very good players managed to take charge and guide the hoards through it all. In general the message boards degenerated into a lot of flaming....

  • by green1 (322787) on Friday July 11, 2008 @01:02AM (#24148397)

    I should have a vote, and be able to give that vote to anyone that I feel is able to represent my views and interests best.

    While I agree with you on principal, how do you prevent votes from being bought and sold as commodities?
    It's a noble thought, however I fear too many people would rather a few dollars than freedom, and in time you could find special interest groups owning a large number of votes, so many in fact that they can do anything they want...

  • by Max Littlemore (1001285) on Friday July 11, 2008 @01:11AM (#24148453)

    Hmmmmm.....the invasion of Canada vote!!!! Prepare thyself, Oh Canada!!

    This is what concerns me. On face value the idea sounds like a huge step forward for democracy and people who don't really think things through or aren't particularly educated will vote for it.

    I have seen loads of clips - and yes American /.ers, I know how easy it is to selectively edit these things - that show interviews with "average Americans on the street" saying that Buddhists are terrorists who should be nuked when asked what they think of Buddhists. I know that this is not true for all Americans, but I also know a large percentage of Americans know less about the world outside their local area than any other Western country. I have grave fears for these people being able to directly vote on anything that a nuclear armed super power might do.

    Sometimes I feel pissed off about the traditional two party thing we have here in Australia too, but there is something to be said for a system with checks and balances, separation of powers, the rule of law and non-elected bureaucrats keeping things orderly. It's frustrating but relatively benign and this idea of letting anyone vote directly on decisions threatens all of these things.

  • To Sum it Up (Score:2, Insightful)

    by oneal13rru (1322741) on Friday July 11, 2008 @01:11AM (#24148457) Journal
    Sounds almost like theyre just taking a select group , leverage whatever pressures and influence they have in a manner to get a puppet elected, and toss in yet another layer of representation to determine what the puppet does... almost like a broken socialist microcosm of a republic. But hey, whatever floats their boats... I just hope their vote server is solid...
  • doomed (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SuperBanana (662181) on Friday July 11, 2008 @01:13AM (#24148469)
    It's doomed. Why? People selfishly look for their representative to represent them best personally, when people instead should have the maturity to look for someone who represents them collectively.

    A good representative is not someone who conducts polling every time something comes up. A good representative makes as sound an educated a decision as he or she can, weighing the good of ALL the people they represent against the good of the commonwealth, against the good of the planet...and more importantly, they should not make a career of it.

    I don't see the voting populous having that kind of foresight. I'd be a happier if representation was randomly assigned amongst people.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 11, 2008 @01:29AM (#24148569)

    wikiocracy

  • by rossz (67331) <`ogre' `at' `geekbiker.net'> on Friday July 11, 2008 @01:34AM (#24148601) Homepage Journal

    This is scary. Dealing with our laws, our freedom, and our future in the exact same manner as the best singer is chosen on t.v.

    A "pure democracy" has the potential to be even more oppressive than the worst sort of communism or dictatorship.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 11, 2008 @01:56AM (#24148731)

    The way we were supposed to choose our president was to know and vote for our electors, who were supposed to be the wisest people we knew. Political parties kind of buggered up the plan.

    Correction: Human nature kind of buggered up the plan. The fact that we have a kind of floating aristocracy, divided into a couple of camps depending on which segment of the wealthy and powerful aristocracy they get more support from, is entirely by design. Many of the framers didn't want the common people getting too much control over things for fear that we wouldn't choose to let them run things.
      Thomas Paine was basically run out of town on a rail for being too much against the idea that the "smart people" should make all the decisions for us dumb rubes.

      - (A)

  • by zappepcs (820751) on Friday July 11, 2008 @01:58AM (#24148745) Journal

    There are ways to help work out the kinks before we have people voting to imprison Buddhists for terrorism. The process of voting from home can be asked to read some information regarding the subject matter of the vote before voting. Additionally a double opt-in vote would require that you insert your voter number to place the vote, then reply to the email sent to your registered email address before your vote is counted. This stops bots and gives those voting time to think it through and read about it a bit before just voting.

    The key to getting a veracious vote result is education. The harder that you work to educate people on the issues, the more likely they are to vote using an informed opinion.

    Yes, there are always those that oppose things out of ignorance or in support of something else, but perhaps if you informed people who Buddhists were before asking them the question they would not be so quick to say they should be nuked.

    Education is the key to solving quite a few problems in the world.

  • by professional_troll (1178701) on Friday July 11, 2008 @02:00AM (#24148755) Homepage
    Israel = Social conservative cunts who practice the stupid religion of judaism
    Rest of the middle east = Social conservative cunts who practice the stupid religion of Islam
    America = Social conservative cunts who practice the stupid religion of christianity
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 11, 2008 @02:15AM (#24148827)

    ...vote for our electors, who were supposed to be the wisest people we knew.

    Sounds a lot like a monarchy: the elite nobility governing the unwashed ignorant masses.

    Something that is increasingly forgotten is that the key innovation of the American revolution was to move away from trying to find the most superior person to govern and to instead rely on a system. Instead of having a (supposedly) superior king decide whose head to chop off, they had a system - of laws and judges and lawyers and juries.

    The basic realization was that you're not ever going to find some guy who is just so special that he can make all the best decisions for the country. Instead, you need a system of specialists, experts and ordinary citizens working together collectively.

    For example, in that view, the president is not supposed to make decisions himself (and certainly not based on his "gut") but, like a judge, he is supposed to preside over the system to insure that the system reaches the correct decisions.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 11, 2008 @02:50AM (#24149001)

    It needs:

    A) A rather large amendment to the Constituition

    B) A population that actually understands the issues being voted on, including causes, effects, and solutions.

    As an American, I believe that B does not exists. We are not rich landowners like ancient Athenians, who had lots of time to ponder these things, and were able to have an efficient direct democracy. Americans, on the whole, are specialized to hell. We don't sleep, we don't take vacations, we just work. We don't have time to think about the government.

  • by AGMW (594303) on Friday July 11, 2008 @04:23AM (#24149453) Homepage
    If the object is to elect someone who ALWAYS votes the way they are told then I'm not sure you want anyone even vaguely clever!

    You want a dolt, imbecile, automaton - indeed, a Voting Machine which will simply vote the way the System ordains. A voting robot - hey, that'll even save them $31K a year!

  • by stupidflanders (1230894) on Friday July 11, 2008 @05:45AM (#24149889)
    Seriously though, I have to wonder if some people will vote for the issue/candidate with the shortest required reading. Or, we might start seeing stuff like this:
    SEX! SEX! SEX!, vote yes on proposition 2600, SEX SEX SEX.

    I see so many problems with this "direct voting". It's not even funny. Well, it's a little funny. SEX!
  • by Nazlfrag (1035012) on Friday July 11, 2008 @07:06AM (#24150237) Journal

    Its a fine line between education and propagandist indoctrination. Education is not the key, thinking for yourself is the key.

  • Many of the framers didn't want the common people getting too much control over things for fear that we wouldn't choose to let them run things.

    One possible motive.
    There may have also been a nod to the level of literacy in the general population. Remember, this was in the day where if you could do enough math to perform celestial navigation, you could be an officer in the navy.
    Times have changed, the pool of smarter heads is bigger. You'll never eliminate the "dumb rubes", but you can gather useful input from a broader swath of people.
    Giving them the benefit of the doubt, those Framers may not have come off as so elitist in a modern context.

  • by mdfst13 (664665) on Friday July 11, 2008 @07:45AM (#24150519)

    What I want to see is where taxpayers would allocate their money. I.e. when you fill out your tax form, you send along something that allocates the taxes paid per year to various programs. For example, assuming that you pay $10,000 in taxes, you might write:

    Defense: $2000
    Social security: $2100
    Medical: $3300
    Debt reduction: $800
    NASA: $50
    Other discretionary: $1750

    That's what we have now (lumping a lot of things together to save typing). Or maybe you might prefer to spend nothing on defense and that $2000 would go to space research or welfare or whatever else you might want to select. Or you think too much is spent on welfare and not enough on defense, so you give the $10,000 to defense.

    Even if this were non-binding, I think that we'd get some interesting information. Some discussion of how this might work (although based on a per person allocation rather than a per tax dollar allocation) is in the second press release ("New Poll: Public Would Allocate a Federal Budget
    Much Different from Washington's") at http://www.globalpolicy.org/finance/tables/usspend.htm [globalpolicy.org]

    Binding (if feasible) would make this interesting. People could have the option of increasing their personal taxes paid and having the money go where they want it (e.g. NASA or welfare). Billionaires (e.g. Gates) would get the benefit of controlling the allocation of their taxes, giving them a reason to pay taxes (rather than the natural reasons to evade them).

    This isn't the micromanagement of direct democracy, but it does allow people to participate directly in the decision with the most direct impact to them.

  • by Xavyor (772119) on Friday July 11, 2008 @07:48AM (#24150537)

    The process of voting from home can be asked to read some information regarding the subject matter of the vote before voting.

    Most /.ers don't even read TFA. Do you really think we could get everyone who votes to read both sides of the argument before they got bored and picked the radio button with the prettiest picture next to it?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 11, 2008 @07:54AM (#24150577)

    In my observations, the wisest people have no desire to control others through coercion. They realize that economic and social progress naturally arises through voluntary association.

    Government naturally attracts those who DO wish to control others through coercion, not those who just want to live their lives in peace. Realizing this, I'd feel a bit silly claiming that government should (or could) be comprised of the wisest people.

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