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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. c o m> 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 Anonymous Coward

      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 "smar

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        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 umghhh (965931)

          Democracy is a funny thing. I thought of it once in a functional sort of way and came up with the following three characteristics
          1. people choose what is to be achieved (goal)
          2. people choose how to achieve the chosen goal
          3. people choose who is to lead us there

          If you take these three and measure our western societies against them we will see that none except maybe the Swiss live in democracy. OC it is complicated to govern and make rules but if I see that my vote is nullified by sets of say less informed (

    • 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 synaptic (4599)

      There were federalists and anti-federalists from the get go.

    • Online influence! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) on Friday July 11, 2008 @03:31AM (#24149215) Homepage
      I was just thinking of a solution like this in the wake of the Telecoms debacle. What if some reasonably intelligent, semi organised group was to set up a shadow government of sorts, with its own structure to debate and vote on issues on a public website?

      You could set it up like Slashdot, with the explicit goal of influencing government policy and officials to move in a suitable direction.

      Such a group could have policies on health, education, technology, science, military, the whole gamut, all debated by people who know what they are talking about, with a moderation system like slashdot. Once the debate was finalised, you could hold a poll for the final direction of that piece of legislation or whatever, and set that as the policy for the year. The debate could perhaps be re-opened by popular demand as situations change.

      And then you give it teeth. All members donate a hundred bucks a year to it (also a handy way to ensure that there are not too many duplicate accounts) for lobbying or funding the political group, and representatives are appointed to push the agenda on the hill. Its just the bare bones of an idea, it needs a hell of a lot of fleshing out, but damn me if I wouldn't set it up myself if I had the time.
      • Re:Online influence! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) on Friday July 11, 2008 @08:28AM (#24150775) Homepage
        To expand on the idea a bit, from reading the Telecoms debate, it would appear that the going rate for a politician is around $40,000. So lets say you get 100,000 people on board with this idea, thats $10 million or 200-odd politicians you are buying after expenses.

        If you can even get a quarter of a percent of the population on board, you can utterly dwarf any other special interests group out there, the corporations would have no notion of competing, although it would have some hair raising debates with a million people participating. One thing I like about Slashdot however is that it almost always acts as a superb bullshit filter, and the true facts of most matters come out in the end. The same effect would apply for such a system, and contrary to common wisdom, the average person knows a line when its pointed out to them.

        It would remove the power from the politicians, and only those who were voting off message would need to be targeted. You want additional funds going to NASA, or a complete reorganisation of NASA, you got it. You want more spending on education, it will be pushed through. You want the Telecoms bill revoked, congratulations and here's your receipt. You'd need to be careful that you weren't overwhelmed by special interest groups in the early stages (NRA or theological cults for example).

        The idea might leave a bad taste in the mouths of many, but in a warped, roundabout way it sort of is the mercantile American way. And it would without a doubt get things done.
        • To expand on the idea a bit, from reading the Telecoms debate, it would appear that the going rate for a politician is around $40,000. So lets say you get 100,000 people on board with this idea, thats $10 million or 200-odd politicians you are buying after expenses.

          Keep in mind that what you're buying is probably not a politician, usually, but rather you a politician's position on one issue (or possibly even one vote). And the broader the issue, more bidders for the position/vote, or further from their own

      • by lilomar (1072448)

        Not quite what you are suggesting, but you might be interested in this [metagovernment.org].

      • by sjs132 (631745)

        If they only check/balance that you have to keep out duplicate votes to limit fraud/manipulation, is that you charge a "membership fee" of $100 per vote, then you'll still have LOTS of votes bought. What does $100 mean to a company or pact or 521 group, if they have MILLIONS of dollars to throw behind somone/something. You will still end up with thousands of fraudulant votes.

        NOT TO MENTION, that if I can't afford to give a complete stranger $100, then I don't get any say in how things work out.

        The key he

      • I have been thinking for many years of roughly such an affair myself, and am relieved to find that I'm not totally alone in this. It seemed as if every time I'd tentatively mention it in this forum or that, the idea would meet an enormous, terrible silence, with absolutely no response whatsoever.

        Actually, my thoughts have been more along the lines of not merely influencing the current corrupt mess, but of replacing it altogether, with rather a great effort by very many like-minded people, most especially in

        • I've been debating starting an open-lobbying site for a while now. In fact, I've suggested it to a few people on /. but it hasn't gotten anywhere yet.

          Let me know if you become interested in something like this. I resell hosting, so I can get you free linux hosting. I also do web design and development, so I can contribute greatly to the cause.

          email me: webmaster -at- fredrickville.com
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cgenman (325138)

        Why not setup a system that mirror's the house of representative's docket for the following day, allowing people to vote on the issues that matter to them. Break this down by region and district, so that politicians can see their people swinging one way or another on individual issues.

        Create a dynamic system where any one user can lend their vote to another user unless they choose to override it. Setup a discussion for each item with moderation, slashdot style.

        Basically, make it really easy for a congress

    • by Zebra_X (13249)

      No, not really a mini electoral system. The fact that you can directly cast your vote is funadmentally different. In some ways this is a better model, you can still choose someone you trust, but vote specifically on your issues but still delegate most of the gov't running process to a trusted party. Additionally if the trusted party demonstrates a track record that you don't like, there is always the option of choosing another at any time.

      Call it a hybrid democracy.

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Friday July 11, 2008 @12:41AM (#24148247) Journal
    This is just what I've been waiting for!! I have my vote-bots standing by, ready to tilt the vote when the time comes.

    Of course, I won't use them for just ANY occasion, I will save them for something important. Hmmmmm.....the invasion of Canada vote!!!! Prepare thyself, Oh Canada!!
    • 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.

      • 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 smoker2 (750216)

          ... 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.

          But then you are telling them what to think before asking them what they think.
          There has to be more independent thought going on, otherwise it's a just a mindshare race.

        • 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.

          That's called 'confirmed opt-in'. 'Double' implies that you have to opt in twice, but that's not what you're doing: you're providing an email address, and then confirming by the reply that the person who provided your email address was actually you. When a system requires you to enter a username and a password, you do

        • 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!
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Nazlfrag (1035012)

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

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Xavyor (772119)

          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 h4rm0ny (722443)

        Well you have to admit, it provides one Hell of an incentive to educate the populace, whereas at present the US government seems to have an interest in keeping people ignorant. If these people have power, it's going to be the first time in a while that people are going to have to really make their cases to the people and that should be a good thing. Let's not panic just yet. This is one candidate. If they find someone and they get elected, this could be a really good thing.
      • by Titoxd (1116095)

        You think that's bad? That's nothing, really.

        I know anecdotal evidence is usually worthless, but in this case I have some to share. An ex-uncle of mine (thankfully he is an *ex* uncle due to him being divorced out of the family) swore that Canada was a state of the U.S. I wish I were joking, but I'm not. Not only that, he actually started arguing in public about how Canada must be a state of the U.S., because we send so much stuff there, and actually made fun of us because we were so stupid to believe that

      • by dbcad7 (771464)

        Well there is such a thing as a Buddhist terrorist.. just as there have been Christian terrorists... but I know that is not your point. This same person would probably have answered the same if asked about Muslims.. There are a few ignorant people out there, no doubt about it.

        What gets me is some of the mind blowing things said that are not part of government sponsored fear (the terrorism thing for example)... Like the gal who was on the show "Smarter than a fifth grader", who said she thought Europe was a

      • by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Friday July 11, 2008 @06:03AM (#24149973) Homepage
        Actually, the entire world is like that. I live in China now, and Mr. Zhang on the street doesn't even know what's in the next province, much less overseas. Luckily, they're not allowed to vote, which should cheer you up.
      • 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 agree 100%. In order to work well, there would have to be a competency test for each issue that's voted on, with only those who have sufficient knowledge allowed to vote. And that is a nightmare.

        The bigger problem I have with this, that kind of relates to an uneducated population, is the tyranny of the majority.

    • I hope someone really does this -- kills two birds with one stone.
  • 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.

    • 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?

      I would say no.

      "It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood."

      - James Madison

  • 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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by green1 (322787)

      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 Sparr0 (451780)

        Perhaps this implementation is not a perfect example of the system I want, but it is a step in the right direction. In my ideal, vote buying would be difficult, as there would be no way to keep an individual from reassigning their vote to another representative.

        [not a fan of geographic representation]

      • While I agree with you on principal, how do you prevent votes from being bought and sold as commodities?

        Oh my, that one nearly cost me a keyboard. You're trying to infer that they aren't now?

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Actually he would be trying to imply it. You're the one infering it.

          [/pedantry]

        • by g0at (135364)

          I can't tell if "your" making a clever language joke, or offering an actual reply to the parent. :P

      • by Wildclaw (15718)

        how do you prevent votes from being bought and sold as commodities?

        The death penalty?

        Ok, that is an exaggeration, especially since I am against the death penalty, but the basic idea is correct. Laws against buying (as well as selling) votes or probing into the voting patterns of any person. There should be pretty hefy penalties as it is a direct attack on society itself.

      • by rhakka (224319)

        right now, you only have to buy off a portion of the few hundred people in congress.

        with direct representation, you would potentially have to buy off thousands of representatives. and, if anyone thought their chosen elector was selling his/her votes, they could reallocate it, for the fastest response to corruption ever seen.

        how is this more risky than it is now, with much larger amounts of power concentrated in fewer and easier to target hands. if I wanted to buy votes, now is close to a dream situation,

      • Why do you need to prevent it? If someone values a little money more than participation in running their country, then why not let them sell their vote? The only thing I would ask is that it be transparent - that I know if a bill receives three million votes because someone has bought them, and am able to donate my vote to a bloc aimed at countering that person if I choose. The real solution to this is to educate people as to the real value of their votes. At least if they are going to sell their share
      • by Froze (398171)

        The problem, as I see it, is that voting is a red herring. What I mean is that the whole concept of voting is an artificial limitation put in place at a time when it was impossible to obtain and interpret the intentions of the people directly. Specifically, the limitations of voting allow for fraud (bought votes, ballot stuffing, etc) and also don't allow for the voter to change their mind in a timely fashion.

        Somewhere above, representation was posed as a solution to group think and propaganda. Again the so

    • by mcelrath (8027)

      Of course they aren't going for direct democracy. That is an organizational nightmare.

      Someone should tell that [wikipedia.org] to Switzerland [wikipedia.org]. I live here (American expat) and it seems to work quite well. But it's difficult for me to make a really informed opinion since my French and German are crap. They vote all the time (many times a year), and from an outsider's perspective, it doesn't seem that different in its outcome than a representative democracy. I would also argue it prevents certain abuses -- particularly t

  • 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....

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by gsasha (550394)
      I currently live in Switzerland, and they have this nice system that any issue important enough to collect a given number of signatures is put up to a referendum.
      Works like charm - while this option is used, as I see, relatively rarely, it does keep the politicians from thinking up very stupid things.
      And guess what? Swiss are not disbanding their police force, not invading Israel nor Iran and the corporations are oh so legal :)
      • by mako1138 (837520)

        We have a referendum system in California too, but I would say that it's been a mixed bag for us.

      • Switzerland also has a higher gun ownership rate than the US but a much lower rate of gun-related violence. I think it's save to say that things that work in Switzerland don't necessarily work in the US (the time I've spent in Switzerland makes me want to end that sentence with 'in the real world').
    • by smoker2 (750216)
      Reminds me of a Peter Cook film. The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer [imdb.com].
      Basic plot outline is that by giving everyone a say in how the country is run, he manages to piss them off with having to vote multiple times a day, on boring and unintelligible subjects, until they don't want to do it any more. So he offers to take away the responsibility and becomes a defacto dictator.
      Good film.
    • One of the main advantages to having Congressmembers is the same advantage we use everywhere else - specialties. You go to a brain surgeon or a foot surgeon or a shoulder surgeon for specific ailments, not a general practitioner. Likewise, here you have someone whose entire day is devoted to lawmaking, so they will (hopefully) be better suited to the task than John Q. Public.

      But that isn't to say the general populace voting is a BAD thing. People on slashdot are a terrible sample set, but Cowboy Neal as

    • by BobMcD (601576)

      Having actually spent time with an ex-congressman (I used to work for his son), I'd have to say that you have greatly underestimated the party system and its impact on politics.

      This was a passionate, visionary man who was greatly successful at the local and state levels, but would NEVER go back to Congress. Why? All the party politics made it impossible to do anything your constituents actually wanted you to do.

      This meta-party concept shifts that guidance away from the parties and onto the public as a who

  • The Democratic Party primary can quite reasonably considered to be the end of the line for candidates seeking Federal election from MA. Unless you have a genius plan to disrupt the internal workings of the party, I find it hard to believe you are going to accomplish all that much.

    MA was bought and paid for a long time ago.

  • But it just can't happen. Proving constituancy. Ballot stuffing. Out of state voters. Ingoring voters who still haven't gotten into the whole "internet" thing. I wish it could work, but it can't without years of real change.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I can't remember my password, so screw Karma.

    The pay for this job in MA is 31k.

    Anyone intelligent at all is making 60k+.

    Anyone unintelligent is making 40k at Mcdonalds if they actually fucking worked at it.

    In other words: the pay doesn't just suck, a teenage dropout can make more.

    I live in this district. I'd apply, and mean it, in a second if the job payed -anything- livable. 55k maybe.

    For all of you who go "But 31k is fine in hickland" this is less than .01 miles from Boston! The cost of living here is cra

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AGMW (594303)
      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!

    • Did you consider that the pay is low because they want people who a) don't *need* to work (eg, other sources of income or independently wealthy) and b) will do the work for reasons other than money?

    • For all of you who go "But 31k is fine in hickland"

      You have an astoundingly broad conception of "hickland". Otherwise, though, you're right.

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

    by oneal13rru (1322741)
    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.

    • Re:doomed (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Krishnoid (984597) on Friday July 11, 2008 @02:04AM (#24148769) Journal

      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.

      I can't remember where I heard this (NPR?) but there were studies done that showed that people vote for who and what that they identify with, not who and what benefits them most or represents them most closely.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by plasmacutter (901737)

      weighing the good of ALL the people they represent against the good of the commonwealth, against the good of the planet...

      and what subjective means are used to identify this? This is why meta-parties are such a good thing.

      Enlightenment groups like the freemasons were vilified and persecuted as the bane of civil society by royalty and the pope because they recognized the tyranny and provided points of organization against....get this.. royalty and the pope.

      Sound like certain technologies to me.

  • George Washington is spinning in his grave...
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by h4rm0ny (722443)

      I suspect that all the Founding Fathers have been spinning like bobbins on a sewing machine for some time now. A little more angular momentum wont make any difference at this point.
  • by Repton (60818) on Friday July 11, 2008 @01:23AM (#24148533) Homepage
    excellent congressman AA+++++++++ would def vote for again
  • by xk0der (1003200) on Friday July 11, 2008 @01:48AM (#24148685) Homepage
    I happen to stumble upon something similar here : http://podvoters.org/ [podvoters.org]

    PodVoters looks to me like a much better idea (IMO), because it's an online system for selecting candidates, according to a process that should yield much better candidates, than we get at present. It's not about users directly managing the entire legislative process which is too burdensome for most (any?) citizen.

    just my two cents :)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mdfst13 (664665)

      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 $2

  • by oodaloop (1229816) on Friday July 11, 2008 @02:32AM (#24148911)
    Why not try it and see what happens? What could possibly go wrong? Seriously, this is definitely something worth persuing. Maybe some variation of it in the future will prove better than what we're doing now. I'm sure there were people who didn't believe American democracy would work when our forefathers started this country.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Alibaba10100 (1296289)
      We have some existing data. Online voting is used in referendum voting at many college campuses. I've been impressed with what I've seen. When voting on issues online, college students can be quite moderate. But when you put everyone in the same room and have them vote publicly on issues, the results are not pretty.
    • by mdmkolbe (944892)
      Experimenting is a good idea, but perhaps they can start on a smaller scale like the state level. It would be easier to achieve and would make it easier to get accepted at the federal level if a few (successful) state examples existed. Isn't there some quote about how states should serve as laboratories of democracy somewhere?
    • by RobBebop (947356)

      I'm sure there were people who didn't believe American democracy would work when our forefathers started this country.

      You mean the Loyalists/Tories [wikipedia.org]?

      I believe illegal quartering, unfair taxation, and lack of dependence on anything from the Motherland were the main reasons why the colonists revolved.

      In "Common Sense", there is a section devoted to the logistics of building a Navy and an argument that the Redcoats were so spread apart fighting other regional wars that America could easily over-power them with a realistically sized fleet.

  • by Gibbs-Duhem (1058152) on Friday July 11, 2008 @02:50AM (#24148999)

    I live in this district, and must say that as much as I love this idea, it would be tough to sway me (as a social libertarian and economic moderate) to vote out Capuano. His voting record is very consistently exactly in line with what I would want.

    To whit, the ACLU ranks him at 94% voting the way they advocate and 100% by LBGT advocates (I'm also gay). He's in favor of affirmative action, which I have some minor objections to, but generally think isn't particularly evil. He voted against expanding criminal prosecutions for minors and is rated "soft on crime" (which I approve of, having been harassed by the police and FBI several times despite having committed no crimes). He is generally not in favor of the war on drugs. I don't think he's as savvy on energy and the environment as I'd like, but he probably is better informed that an average group of citizens...

    I dunno, I'm not sure I'd trust my neighbors in general to be as sensible as Capuano has been. I've seen my neighbors believe some pretty stupid crap. I'd have to see a very sensible plan before I'd vote to change.

  • by MenThal (646459) on Friday July 11, 2008 @02:53AM (#24149017)
    ...but it was started by two comedians, mostly as an elaborate joke I hink. They called it "The Political Party" and almost all the representatives were known Norwegian comedians. http://www.dpp.no/ [www.dpp.no]
  • Where I come from, any contract binding an elected representative to vote in a certain manner would violate the constitution, and thus be invalid from the start. Once a person is elected into the office, he/she can vote however he/she sees fit, and nobody can influence the vote (except $$$ of course ;). Also, it doesn't matter WHY the person has been elected, whether there was an invalid "contract" in the play - the person becomes a legally elected representative for full 4 years.
    • by smoker2 (750216)
      This would be fine, if like in any public corporation, the voters (the shareholders) could IMMEDIATELY voice their displeasure and if necessary, replace the representative when he/she does something against the popular wishes. As things stand, you're stuck with a liar and a traitor until the next election.
      If the representative can't show that they have voted (on any matter) in the best interests of their stated goals (at time of election), then they are breaking the contract they made with the electorate. T
      • by smoker2 (750216)
        Furthermore, I think that any vote where a representative is subsequently removed from office, should be recast, so as to take account of the true wishes of the nation. Even if it's just one person. If you're going to have elections at all, they have to provide real data, or else it's just pantomime.
    • Where is this? I've often thought that the opposite ought to be true - that a candidate's election pledges should be legally binding and that violating them should be the subject of criminal penalties. I would love vote for a candidate who stood by his (or her) pledges to the extent that they were willing to sign a legally-binding contract stating that they will be subject to personal penalties if they fail to uphold them.
      • by mdmkolbe (944892)

        Having the freedom to make deals and deal compromises is a very important tool in politics. Being legally bound would limit that ability.

        I've served in a representative role before where I had to violate the strict letter of why my constituents sent me there in order to obtain for them the spirit of what they wanted. This is why we vote for actual people rather than just political platforms. Bills have to be interpreted and are often a mixed bag of parts you like and parts you don't like. At the end

    • by mdmkolbe (944892)

      A simple contract to that effect probably wouldn't be enforced by the courts, but lawyers have a few tricks that might apply.

      IANAL, but IIUC, contracts usually include penalty clauses to spell out exactly what happens if someone violates the contract. So I'm wondering if some careful crafting could achieve the goal. Of course the penalty clause couldn't "unelect" the person and it probably couldn't force them to resign. Even requiring that they give the campaign donations back would be hard because th

  • by stinerman (812158) <nathan.stineNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday July 11, 2008 @03:18AM (#24149149) Homepage

    You don't have to live in the district in order to run for Congress in that district, you only have to live in the state.

    The folks running the Free Government Party might require a candidate to live in the district, but it isn't a restriction required by the United States or Massachusetts.

  • why not go the whole way? Abolish paid for, special-interest driven, corruptable politicians entirely?

    Allow anyone to draft legislation, post it on some server (ArXiv style) and allow it a few months to be peer reviewed to discuss merits of new law. Legislation that looks like being worth considering is then written up by professionals into a version worth voting on, then put to a public online vote.

    Set a suitable quorom so single interest groups can't force things through. Give every law a 12 month sunset

    • Or should I say VOTE PARENT UP? Either way... he/she has something there... Despite contradicting him/herself - calling for abolishment of politicians while asking for "professionals" to write up the legislation. Sounds a lot like politicians to me. But the part about anyone drafting the legislation, quorums and sunset clauses sounds good... though some obvious polishing is still needed.
  • by damburger (981828) on Friday July 11, 2008 @07:07AM (#24150243)

    Why not have artificially intelligent avatars represent you?

    You know what your overall objectives in voting are, but don't have time to pursue them on every single issue. You can't trust a human representative (who certainly has his own agenda) so you program an AI with parameters reflecting your personal preferences and it tries to emulate your vote on every issue that comes up, and if it comes across something it can't handle, alerts you so you can vote in person.

  • What happens when this representative gets elected and comes to a situation where his open source constituents collectively decide he should vote one way on an issue, and the rep cannot vote that way for reasons of conscience, or for reasons (s)he cannot fully reveal, e.g., info from secret briefings (assuming for this discussion that the info is reliable).

    What about the situation where his Free Party votes one way but the rest of his constituency clearly feels differently? (S)He does represent ALL the con

  • The chosen candidate will be bound by contract to vote in Congress only as do his or her constituents online.

    You can't sue a congressman for the performance of his duties. Well...you could sue him, but it would be thrown out of court so fast it would make your head swim.

    -Loyal

  • Sounds great. On paper.

    Who are the Geeks that are going to prevent cheating? (I want names.)

    If you have been to high school or college, you know, this country is full of cheaters. Even the Geeks. Only real geeks (of which I am one) would be able to police this system and keep it from being taken over by private interest hackers.

    If we could design a bullet proof polling system (tra-la-la), I think it should be MANDATORY that EVERY citizen vote on EVERY issue. (No notes from Mom saying you were sick.) W
    • I think it should be MANDATORY that EVERY citizen vote on EVERY issue.

      Terrible idea. This would send entropy through the roof on all but the very most popular issues. Bob and Alice understand economics, but not education. The opposite is true of Oscar and Eve. Ted knows nothing about either, but is the only one with a good understanding of technology. If we force them to all vote on obscure economic policy, Bob and Alice will vote according to reasoned argument, while the other three could go either way, p

  • and I follow politics closely. But there's no way I 'd have the time decide how my congressman should vote on every issue. To do it in an informed fashion, that is actually reading the bills and researching them, would be a full time job in and of itself. This is why we elected Capuano and give him some staffers, so we don't have to deal with all of this ourselves. The whole point is to vote for someone who more or less share your views, then if they screw up, vote them out of office.

  • This is what we need and what democracy is.

    Right now, our congresspeople have decided they think they know what's best for us. They're not voting for our interests. They're not voting for what we want.

    A congressperson bound by contract to vote for what his constituents want is a great idea.

    Since integrity and honesty are no longer requirements of being in congress, this will give people representation again.

    Bravo.

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