[EM] direct democracy / proxy system proposal - comment
baford at mit.edu
Sun Aug 8 04:08:31 PDT 2004
On Sunday 08 August 2004 03:33, Paul Kislanko wrote:
> Except for terminology changes, this seems just like what we have now in
> the US.
ALL modern large-scale democracies involve some notion of indirection that can
be vaguely labelled "representation" or "proxy voting" or whatever, because
no matter how you cut the cards, not everyone can be directly involved in
every governmental decision all the time. But the similarity does not extend
beyond this must superficial level. What's important is the _structure_ of
the representation - the details of how the system actually works, not just
the use of vague buzzwords like "representatives" or "electors" or "proxies".
(Did you actually read either James's proposal or mine?)
> "Electors" are our proxies for the selection of President and Vice
> President, and we elect Representatives to Congress as proxies for for
> having all of us get together and vote on every issue.
US presidential electors are in no way similar to the proxies James is
proposing. For starters, the people (which includes me, one of the millions
stuck under this godawful electoral system) do not actually vote for
electors: they vote for a party or presidential candidate, who _appoints_ his
electors for a particular state, and the electors for that state in turn vote
for their candidate in the electoral college if the candidate wins the
popular vote in that state. From the point of view of Joe Average, the
existence of the electoral college is practically invisible, except for its
mysterious effect (due to the statewide granularity of the electoral college)
of sometimes causing the candidate who _loses_ the popular vote becoming
In contrast, the whole point of "proxies" in James's proposal (or "delegates"
in mine) is that everyone has the _individual_ choice not only of _whether_
to use a proxy at all (versus just to participate directly), but also of
_who_ exactly their proxy will be. In our proposals, the idea is that you
can choose basically _anyone_ to be your proxy and vote in place of you -
meaning your proxy can (and should) be someone you know directly and actually
trust - not just someone you hear about on TV. It's about giving voters more
choice in how they participate - and the US electoral college system
certainly gives voters no such choice.
Similarly, the existing US congressional representative system provides no
such choice either. Every few years the ruling representatives of a given
state (NOT the voters) get together and divy up the state into little
geographic districts, and then depending on which district you happen to fall
into, you get only one or - if you're _really_really_lucky_ and live in a
rare districts where there is any contest at all - at most two viable
candidates to choose from to "represent" you. And if you're in the losing
minority in that district, you get no representative at all. Where's the
In James's proposal (and mine), the people (NOT the established
representatives) get to define their own "districts" or constituencies
individually, by selecting any proxy they want on whatever basis they like.
All the people who delegate their votes to a given proxy effectively form a
constituency, regardless of where they live geographically. Less
popular/powerful proxies can then re-delegate their voting power to other
proxies to form larger, more powerful constituencies - again, according to
their _own_ choices, not according to the whims of some gerrymandering
committee set up by the established political elite.
> Adding another layer by having us elect electors to elect representatives
> dose not seem to me to make the democracy more representative.
Again, you seem to have missed the point entirely - the proposal isn't about
adding or removing layers, but about making the representative structure work
according to _individual_ choice. You don't have to use proxies at all; you
can just participate directly (or not participate at all) if you wish. If
you do want to use a proxy, you get to decide exactly who your proxy is, and
the decision is exclusively yours. You don't have to fight with 646,951
other pre-selected people in your district over the choice of your
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