[EM] DP in a legislature

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Sun Mar 5 19:15:35 PST 2006

I am personally grateful to Mr. Ketchum for entering this discussion 
and for furthering it. I fear that my responses here and elsewhere 
may be too long, but they are such as they are. All of this 
potentially is generating material for the BeyondPolitics wiki and, 
perhaps, we should have a specific BeyondPolitics list, for the 
discussion of Free Association and Delegable Proxy concepts (I 
believe that they are naturally linked for reasons that I explain 
here and there in my writings.) Indeed, there is already such a list, 
but it has not had my attention lately. Anyone can join at 

(that is members underscore beyondpolitics.org)

At 07:53 AM 3/5/2006, Dave Ketchum wrote:
>I elect members of school district, village, town, county, state, 
>and national legislatures.  I am ready to invest more time than many 
>are willing to invest in government, but there is no way I will 
>support a system that demands that I invest enough time to 
>participate intelligently in all those bodies.

I.e., in the present system, in which it is not only impossible to 
directly participate intelligently, indirect participation through 
elected representatives is, as we know, flawed in many ways. 
Delegable proxy can't change the first problem, except to make it 
possible to participate directly where one has the time and 
inclination, but it *does* allow a very minimum level of 
participation in *all* bodies, even if there are hundreds or 
thousands of them, because every citizen or member could name a proxy 
to every organization, and one proxy might suffice, theoretically, 
for all of them. All the citizen would have to do is to confirm a 
registration for each organization, something that takes little more 
than a minute. Beyond that, the citizen's continued participation is 
through having amplified the organizational trust embodied in the 
chain of proxies, and through maintaining that trust.

I have suggested that direct proxies have a natural limit of twenty 
or so. However, that limit represents what I expect would not 
generate too much traffic in a general-purpose organization of high 
interest. I might join a delegable proxy organization of Subaru 
owners, directly or through, say, a consumer FA, and a proxy in that 
Subaru Owners organization might have thousands of people 
represented. Part of this proxy's task would be to contact me, 
probably through a mailing list, when there is something the proxy 
thinks I should know or something I should do. I would only 
participate directly occasionally, if at all.

That proxies are filters is a very important concept. In the upward 
direction, it is essential that information be filtered, or else the 
central body, and those who participate in it, will be overwhelmed. 
In DP, one's input is filtered and integrated with input from other 
members, as it is in any representative system. The difference with 
DP is that the filters are chosen by those who are being filtered.

And the same filtration operates in the other direction. If a proxy 
overwhelms me with too much information, it would be a possible 
reason to reassign my proxy to one with a better sense of what to 
send down and what to leave at a higher level.

>I did not mention referenda last time but, just as they are used in 
>present governments, they could be used for a limited number of 
>describable issues.

With a DP legislature, particularly if direct voting is allowed, 
referenda are useless and dangerous redundancies.

Referenda encourage voters who don't understand issues to vote, and I 
have seen, again and again, voters, all too easily, influenced to 
vote against their own interests, and not in favor of the interest of 
society as a whole, but of the special interest which poured vast 
amounts of money into promoting approval of a referendum that they 
wrote. California's lottery was started by such a referendum, and the 
law was written to favor one particular vendor of lottery equipment, 
in technicalities that few voters would even notice. And the ballot 
arguments, which are distributed to all voters and which contain Pro, 
Con, Con Reply and Pro Reply arguments (which presumes, by the way 
that there are only two sides to an argument). In the Pro Reply, 
which is submitted simultaneously with the Con Reply, there was a 
claim that the arguments of the Con side were ridiculous because ... 
and an appeal was made to a simple math error, which the proponents 
were obviously counting on being made by many voters. And it passed. 
The ostensible purpose of the lottery was to fund education, and 
educators were solidly against it....

Referenda don't just bypass legislators, they also bypass, largely, 
considered and informed deliberation. Bad idea. Necessary in some 
cases, but DP, I believe, handles all those situations easily.

>Seems like some issues must be done by the legislature for 
>practicality. For example, balancing taxes and expenses for a budget 
>seems beyond doing except for a legislature to debate the balancing.

Actually, any community decisions should be made with deliberation, 
as thorough as the decision warrants. I'd include, by the way, the 
selection of officers. In my opinion, the direct election of officers 
is responsible for the ascending power of special interests, for 
direct elections are rather easily manipulable. All it takes is money 
or good organization.

(This fact is why I think that DP could come to the public arena long 
before a majority of people participate in it. Even a relatively 
small FA/DP organization, where it can find internal consensus or 
something approaching it, could exert power far beyond its percentage 
of the vote, just as big money does now. I think we don't normally 
realize how small "big money" is. To buy a U.S. Presidential election 
probably takes on the order of a billion dollars. That is less than 
$5 per citizen.)

>Thus I assume a legislature with about as many members as now, doing 
>their own voting as now, with referenda when that works, and other 
>voters not getting involved beyond identifying proxies and voting in referenda.

I also forsee something like this, adding only that voters *can* get 
involved if they so choose. Most of them won't, beyond occasionally 
reviewing the actions of their proxy and the effect of their votes. 
And I don't see referenda taking place, with practically no 
exception. What would justify a referendum and the associated very 
substantial cost (elections are *expensive*, in terms of the total 
social expenditure), when citizens may initiate, through proxies, 
legislation, and may also directly vote on it if they so choose?

Holding a referendum *forces* citizens who care to participate, or 
else risk a decision by a motivated minority (which often happens 
anyway). It is actually coercive.

DP democracy is representative democracy *without* elections. 
Officers would likewise be chosen as in a parliamentary system, by 
vote of the assembly. It might be more accurate to say "hired," for 
officers would not have fixed terms (also as in a parliamentary 
system), they would serve at the pleasure of the assembly.

>Voters with "common" desires will have no trouble finding suitable 
>proxies.  Those with less popular opinions can be lucky if the whole 
>state has enough voters who think alike to appoint one legislator.

Given that one only has to find a proxy willing to pass up the ideas, 
even very unpopular opinions would see the light of day, even if only 
far down in a proxy network, where, if they are rejected, the one 
submitting it knows why and may be able to speak directly with the 
one doing the rejecting. (The original submitter might not be able to 
speak directly if the rejection takes place at a level higher than 
that submitter's proxy, but the proxy who has decided to try to pass 
up the idea to the one who rejects it *will* have that opportunity. 
The point is that the conversation takes place, and that its content 
gets passed down, not through some impersonal mechanism, but by one 
who has been trusted, directly or indirectly, by the submitter.

I'm telling you, DP is *radically* different from any formal 
organizational system ever seen. While it is, in fact, similar to 
what happens in small peer groups, the formalization makes it 
possible to extend this to large organizations.

I'm sure that anarchists and libertarians, if they understand it, 
will love it. I hasten to add that an opinion that these principles 
would work well in Free Associations is not the same thing as an 
opinion that society as a whole should run on anarchist or 
libertarian rules (or lack of rules). I consider freedom quite 
valuable, but, obviously, freedom itself is not enough to secure the 
common weal. I'll leave it to future generations to work out the balance.

But total freedom, restrained only by natural forces, in Free 
Associations, is not only possible, and *now*, but it actually is 
known to work under the right circumstances. I think those 
circumstances can be generalized.

We do not have to wait to move the Leviathan. We can't move the 
Leviathan until we are organized so.... *How* do we organize? There 
are lots of ways that don't work, and the ways that work to some 
degree are exactly the ways that have led us to the present 
situation. FA/DP is a suggested answer, and, I submit, it is so easy 
to try that ... What are we waiting for?

I know of only one reason. We are actually in despair about finding a 
solution, to the point where when one comes and bonks us on the nose, 
we don't move. We are sure that it won't work, for, after all, if it 
were that easy, wouldn't it already be in use?

>Initial assignment means little because it only happens once.  A 
>proxy can last forever so long as both voter and proxy holder are willing.
>My coercion topic was protecting voters from being ordered to please
>someone else in their selection of a proxy.

Yes, that was understood. When I wrote "initial assignment," I did 
not mean the chronological assignment. I meant the base-level direct 
assignment by someone who is not a proxy to someone who either 
already is one for others, or who becomes one by virtue of this 
assignment. In a secret ballot system, that assignment is anonymous 
and protected, but the very protection hampers the full functioning of it.

The problem is actually complex, but, fortunately, it is practically 
irrelevant in the Free Association application of DP, which, I expect 
and would highly advise, should precede implementation in 
organizations which directly exercise power (and which are therefore 

>Members of the voting body apply by indicating that intent, rather 
>than naming a proxy.  Then, if not holding enough proxies to be in 
>the voting body, they must name a proxy to get represented.
>Not clear about how to prevent loops - though that is essential.

The goal in DP is for every member to name a proxy. Except for loops, 
it will then be a near certainty that everyone will be represented. 
There is no need for applications or declarations of intent.

If everyone names a proxy, loops are obviously going to be formed. 
The problem is not loops, but loops which contain no active member in 
the assembly in question. However, all that is necessary is to inform 
the members of loops that they are not represented, and all that has 
to happen to break the loop is for *one* member of it to name a proxy 
outside the loop; this action then connects the loop. Iterate until 
the loop is large enough to have a representative.

And even if a loop does not have a representative, it can still do 
what we do today when we are concerned about legislation, only we 
will, in this system, have many more options.

(1) We can caucus with others, compromising as necessary, to create 
an eligible member.
(2) We can find a sufficiently sympathetic member who is already 
eligible and one of us names him or her as our proxy. It only has to be one!
(3) We can find a sufficiently sympathetic member who is willing to 
consider and pass on our ideas and concerns, even if we don't name 
this person or he or she does not accept our proxy. The person does 
not have to agree with our ideas, but only that they should be heard.

And if direct voting is allowed -- highly recommended -- we can still 
participate fully in all decisions, except for deliberation. And, 
again, it only takes one of us to vote in order to represent all of us.

This separation of participation rights into voting and "speaking," 
-- i.e., addressing the assembly and entering motions -- is such a 
simple idea that I would not be surprised to see that it's been 
mentioned somewhere. But I haven't seen it.

That the two rights are merged and that vote delegation is not 
allowed are the *only* reasons why direct democracies like Town 
Meeting, when they grow in size, always devolve into representative 
democracy. It is ironic that the Town of Amherst has a "Town Meeting" 
which is actually a huge representative body, specially established 
by Massachusetts law for the town, I think it was about sixty years 
ago, with representatives elected by neighborhood. The town is 
bitterly divided over whether or not to move to a Mayor/Council 
government; a referendum to accomplish this lost by several votes a 
few years ago, and was repeated, and it still lost by a very small 
margin. Obviously, something is not working, and I don't wonder. 
Amherst Town Meeting, to me, sounds like representative democracy 
with a huge assembly and district representation rather than 
proportional representation. I have some experience with large 
assemblies (100+). It is not fun, unless you like endless debate.

>It is essential that a district assign more than one assembly 
>member, to give voters a choice.  Likely reason for splitting the 
>assembly into multiple districts is to ensure representation from 
>each such district.

Which, in my view, restricts the freedom of the members of districts, 
who are forced to find representation within their district. Voters 
will *naturally* tend to select proxies who are in their proximity! :-)

No district will be unrepresented. The only question is whether or 
not representation will be crisply assigned to identified proxies or 
will be diffuse (but still subject to independent organization for 
coordinated action). I'd prefer to leave that to the voters 
themselves. Why not? Do we think that we know better?

And if a majority of voters want district representation, why, let 
them have it. Just don't forbid voters who disagree, who want 
something else, like a representative who actually represents *them*, 
from obtaining it.

It is a basic principle: government should not coerce or limit unless 
there is sound and continuing reason.

>A platform can be simple, such as "all the parents of students in 
>the XYZ school".  Even such could split, based on disagreement as to 
>how the school is to operate.

This takes the word "platform" outside of its common meaning so far 
that I suggest its use is highly misleading.

>Got to find someone I can trust to back my interests.  Can be that 
>no personal friend qualifies.

Doesn't have to be a personal friend, only has to be someone with 
whom you can communicate.

Natural Law: you participate yourself or someone participates for 
you. Or you don't participate. Got any other options?

The question is only, if you are not going to participate yourself, 
how is your representative chosen? I suggest that the natural chooser is you.

I remember a neighbor, who, upon hearing about delegable proxy said, 
"Oh, I could never trust anyone else to vote for me." As if this was 
not what happened every time every governmental body with 
jurisdiction related to her voted on something. This whom is almost 
totally powerless, but she would not delegate power?

No wonder she is almost powerless! (She and millions of others who 
think that way.)

Wealthy people, forming corporations, had no problem setting up a 
system of representation where trusted attorneys-in-fact, i.e., 
proxies, voted for them. I'm sure that they never even considered 
having elected representatives at the Annual Meeting. (But the Board 
of Directors is elected by vote of the shareholders, directly or 
through proxies, at the Annual Meeting. So, in a sense, corporations 
*do* elect representatives to an ongoing body. I won't go into the 
legal necessities behind this, but, in my view, this is one of the 
weaknesses of the corporate structure as we know it. It is 
remediable, however, and rather easily, with no changes in law, just 
in the attitude of shareholders. Yes, FA/DP.)

And in FA/DP, it is not power other than the power to communicate 
which is delegated, unless the member so chooses. (You *could* 
authorize your proxy to spend money on your behalf, perhaps setting 
up a special bank account for that purpose, with the proxy having 
signature power.)

>>>      Both lone voters, and those who already hold proxies, can offer
>>>their collection to this holder.
>>I'd never do it without a personal conversation.
>>Many people, presented today with such a system for public 
>>governance, would not know what to do. Fortunately, proxy democracy 
>>will almost certainly see broad adoption in non-governmental 
>>organizations, so, by the time it hits public life, they will know what to do.
>Not quite.
>Agreed they can practice in private groups, but it is a BIG step 
>from there to governing.

As expected (this is quite normal), something has been missed by Mr. 
Ketchum. Large organized private groups *are* the government, 
effectively. All it takes is a little patience and a little effort 
per member. (Or a *lot* of effort or cash from a few members.)

We bemoan the fact when we bemoan the effect of special interest 
money on government. But "special interest money" is only shorthand 
for "organized effort." We think they are rich and we are poor. It's 
backwards, actually, but it seems to be that way only because we are 
not organized. And they are.

(An individual having a large amount of money only represents the 
fact that the mechanisms of society have determined that the social 
welfare, on the average, is served by giving some persons significant 
organizational power, specifically those who are able to collect 
wealth. The money means nothing if people won't accept it. Money is a 
very important invention, allowing a certain kind of distributed 
intelligence to function. There are, I suspect, better ways, but 
money will have to do until the better ways are proven; attempts to 
abolish the money system have tended to be quite dangerous. So I 
would not abolish it, I would *use* it.)

>Assuming you WANT to be an active proxy holder, you will discover a 
>need to attract enough proxies to get yourself a seat in the 
>government that you wish to be in.

Would *I* want to be a proxy? Or would I prefer to directly 
participate in whatever interest me and leave the rest to someone I 
trust? If I'm a high-level proxy, I suspect, it would tend to take 
over my life.

The thirst for power is, we've been told for thousands of years, 
foolish. It eats those who pursue it.

I don't want to be a proxy. But I'm *willing* to serve if asked.

Existing systems tend to shut out people like me. The paradox is well 
known: anyone smart enough (and, perhaps, with enough integrity) to 
serve as President will avoid the job, and the process of getting 
there, like the plague. The best Islamic scholars, the ones good 
enough to be remembered even today, used to hide when the khalif 
wanted to appoint them as judges....

If we have a government with direct voting and DP, which is what I'm 
thinking at this time is what would work for governmental bodies, I 
*already* would have a seat in government, just not the intrinsic 
right to speak and enter motions. But I can still do those things 
indirectly: all I have to do is to convince my proxy, as the basic 
way. But I can also do it if I can find *any* sympathetic full member.

And if I cannot find a sympathetic full member, what in the world 
would make me think that I would be doing more than wasting 
everyone's time by trying to get the assembly to consider it?

DP limits the time-wasting to what happens between me and my proxy, 
it does not drag everyone else into it, unless they are willing. 
(Those other representatives don't have to talk to me. But, note, if 
I can convince *anyone* else that it is a good idea, that person can 
take it to *his* proxy. In other words, if I have the best proxy I 
can find, but somehow this proxy has a blind spot, I think, with 
respect to my idea, I don't have to dump him. I can go around him, it 
is just a bit more trouble. But much less trouble than it presently is.)

>I cannot picture a significant percentage of voters being willing 
>and able to invest the time to prepare to vote intelligently on the 
>many issues each government must attend to.

Neither can I. But who decides who is ready to vote intelligently or 
not? I submit that if the decision is made by anyone other than the 
voter, the system is coercive.

The vast majority of voters will, quite properly, allow their proxies 
to represent them. But direct voting is a safeguard and a safety 
valve. It means, among other things, that you *don't* have to find a 
proxy who agrees with you on everything, not even just everything 
important. If it is important to you, you can vote directly if your 
proxy's action does not satisfy you.

>As you mention below, town meeting governments find themselves 
>overwhelmed by all but the simplest collection of town-level problems.

Truer the larger the town. I live in a town with about 800 registered 
voters. Town government is actually quite good. But it would also 
benefit greatly from a parallel FA/DP organization. And one will be 
started. The wiki exists (cummington.beyondpolitics.org), but 
participation is still miniscule.

What I have found is that it is difficult to find people who can 
understand, on first encounter, even a fraction of the concept. 
Gradually, however, the circle of those who "get it" is expanding. 
One of the most influential people in Cummington is a supporter. But 
it still takes time. That woman above, I mentioned, who said she 
could never delegate her vote (she wasn't being asked to, but that is 
how she heard it, as do many), a year later, when the topic came up, 
was *much* more receptive. Time is necessary for the ideas to 
percolate down into that internal fractal we call the brain. It has 
defenses against new ideas, necessary protections. Time overcomes 
those defenses, forcing long deliberation (often unconsciously) of 
new ideas. It is quite functional, if frustrating as all get-out.

>While anyone can write to their legislator, no legislator or 
>legislature can find time to respond to an unlimited amount of 
>detailed voter comment.

Exactly. Which is why I don't attempt to communicate directly with 
the proxy, far up the chain, who ultimately represents me in the 
public assembly. I communicate with my personal, direct proxy. If 
proxies are limited (not by law but by practice) to twenty, the 
legislator only has to receive input from twenty people. They filter 
it for him.

And this is quite another reason why proxy assignment must be mutual. 
A proxy's input is largely going to be filtered by those directly 
represented. (The proxy can seek wider input, and many will, but the 
circle of those represented directly is the obvious mechanism by 
which the proxy remains informed as to the state of the electorate, 
or at least of the proxy's constituency.)

>Topic is how to solve the problem of a holder finding more proxies 
>offered than the holder is willing/able to handle your way.  I say 
>the holder should not object when a proxy is offered - just not 
>promise impossible support, and leave it to the voter to choose 
>between accepting what is offered here, and looking for a holder 
>with more time.

That is the position that I've settled on, except that the proxy must 
accept for the proxy to be valid, that much I would require. That 
acceptance can be automated if the proxy so desires.

The voter will soon find out if the proxy is providing sufficient 
service. First time they try to call him up. And if he doesn't 
provide that contact information, well, caveat emptor.

Proxies could ask for fees, by the way. Why not? Don't want to pay a 
fee, find someone willing to represent you for free. Again, caveat 
emptor, for in a sense, nobody does anything for free. Or almost 
nobody. Even if no money is involved, the compensation is noncash.

(We *do* pay public representatives in current practice, out of 
taxes. Should the public do this, or should those represented? I'd 
think it a libertarian idea to do the latter. I tend to agree, and 
one reason is that the obvious objection is spurious. Poor people, 
quite simply, are not nearly as poor as we might think, plus I'm sure 
that the collected resources of the poor would be augmented by 
donations from those who want to see them represented. The amount of 
money per constituent to support a full-time legislator, representing 
a quota of the public, is actually trivial, pocket change.

>Someone wanting a seat in an assembly could find seeking voters to 
>be essential to getting the seat.

Yes, and they could end up with a mouthful of hair. If the person is 
trustworthy and available for the task, why would he or she not 
simply rise naturally in the fractal? There will be plenty of 
activity and deliberation below the level of the assembly, in which 
this person could become visible. But we are accustomed to the 
present system, and we expect that DP will be like it, people will 
have to seek office, raise funds to promote their candidacies, etc.

How DP will actually operate will become clear in FA/DP 
organizations, without the risks of applying it in government.

DP, in a prepared context (where most people have a basic 
understanding of it, perhaps through experience in NGOs) naturally 
selects for trustworthiness. If the public doesn't trust you enough 
that you would naturally have sufficient proxies, why would you want 
a seat? Working for people who don't trust you is a truly thankless job!

Who would want a seat in the assembly sufficiently to try to seek 
voters? I submit, most likely, it would be those who have some hidden 
agenda (or even not hidden) other than the general welfare, who want 
to try to exercise undue influence. Such people will continue to 
exist, but, I think, voters will quite sensibly come to distrust 
those who try to, for example, buy votes with promises rather than 
proven performance.

Why would you want to buy someone's vote? Obviously, you expect to 
profit from it.. Indeed, you expect to profit more than you pay. At 
whose expense? If what you want to promote is a good idea, why do you 
have to buy votes? -- you can get them for free under DP, and you 
don't even have to be a member of the assembly.

>I say that you cannot have individual voters mangling Congress by 
>avoiding the rule that they must get there via representation.  Drop 
>this rule and millions will descend on Congress - your turn to THINK 
>before offering a claim that your millions can be handled without 
>the system grinding to a halt.

Won't we find out by trying it in the FA/DP organizations?

I fail to understand how Congress would be affected at all by 
allowing direct vote. The vast majority of people won't directly 
vote. If they are so motivated that enough of them *do* vote to have 
a significant impact on outcomes, then, I'd suggest, they have failed 
to lead, they have not done their job, which is to, through 
deliberation, discover and implement consensus, or, at least, the 
will of the majority.

(The will of the majority is defective compared to consensus, but 
failing to allow the majority to act ends up being minority rule 
where the status quo favors the minority, I've seen it many times in 
consensus organizations. I just claim that the majority should 
understand the risks when it overrules a minority, so procedure 
should make it cumbersome to circumvent supermajority requirements, 
and some kinds of actions should not require supermajorities.)

The fear of direct democracy is common, and completely unjustified, 
I'd say. Town Meeting government *does* work. But not perfectly, even 
it could benefit greatly from DP. The problem is that by "direct 
democracy" most people think of everyone voting on everything, which 
is a very, very bad idea. Such democracy, without proxy voting, 
rapidly devolves into chaos, and out of the chaos emerges the 
dictatorship of the active, all too often the fanatic and unbalanced.

>>(If for some reason membership is restricted too far, a majority of 
>>those speaking before the assembly might be promoting a certain 
>>agenda, yet the agenda would fail to receive majority approval. In 
>>order to get majority approval, you need to allow broad participation.)
>Again, I say the voters participate via their proxies.  Take that 
>away and it is your turn to describe how to make it work without the 
>molasses turning to sludge.

I'd rather show a demonstration. Essentially, I see no reason for it 
*not* to work, nor, indeed, for it to even be slow. Mr Ketchum is 
simply assuming that it would be the tedious process he may have seen 
in direct assemblies. Yet the extra members voting directly who are 
not full members would have no power to slow down the process. They 
could not speak without permission. They could not introduce motions 
to amend or to table or any of the other motions that can delay 
things. All they could do is to watch the proceedings and add their 
vote whenever an item not reserved (as a Question of Privilege, if 
you know Robert's Rules) for present members comes up for a vote. If 
they want to insert something into the deliberations, they'll have to 
do it through a proxy, as you would have it.

Voting rights and full participation rights not only can be 
separated, they should be. Voting rights represent the right of the 
public to consent, or to withhold consent, to the actions of the 
assembly. The assembly must restrict full access in order to function 
with a large organization.

The human body solved this problem long ago. The fractal structure 
that is the human nervous system filters information, in both 
directions, quite like the proposed DP. And if the central 
consciousness, equivalent to the assembly, races ahead to make 
decisions not integrated with the whole system, things get dicey, as 
people discover when they try to force themselves into situations 
before they are ready.

>Note that I leave it to the assembly to decide how many members is workable.

Yes. So would I. That the restriction does not affect the right to 
vote is what makes this completely safe. Indeed, if the size is being 
reduced, the reduction would have to be approved by those affected 
(or by those representing them, with their continued consent).

I know that people will do this, they will restrict their own rights 
to participate when they recognize that some restrictions are 
necessary, for it takes a vote of the people to abandon Town Meeting. 
And it almost always happens when the town gets too large. It even 
happened in Amherst, which was left with a Town Meeting in name only.

>Holders offering popular platforms will have no problem attracting 
>proxies (unless there are too many potential holders - in which case 
>some will have to give up).
>My topic here is a collection  of misfits who do not get represented 
>unless they can attract a holder willing to represent their diverse views.

I see DP in a very different way. The proxies represent their *own* 
views, and they vote their own views as well. The proxy system simply 
amplifies their voting power according to the measure of trust they 
enjoy. What a citizen needs to do to be represented is to find 
someone willing to listen to him or her, someone with whom he or she 
has good communication. It is not essential that there be a 
representation of a platform; indeed, platform is a huge distraction.

There is, of course, a connection between similarity of views and 
acceptability of a proxy, but, consider this: if I could find the 
most trustworthy person in the world, i.e., both highly intelligent, 
open-minded and a good listener, ethical, etc., I'd expect that I 
would have different opinions, at least at first, than this person.

(A thought experiment: suppose a book was revealed, it was broad in 
topic, and everything in that book was absolute truth. Do you think 
that you would agree with everything in it? If so, you are not like 
me. I'm wrong sometimes.)

What matters to me about my proxy is that we can communicate, that I 
can explain my ideas to him or her, that I can be reasonably 
confident that the ideas will be understood, and that they will not 
be rejected without due consideration, and that the reasons for 
rejection, if they are to be rejected, will be explained to me. As 
well, I would expect that my proxy openly discuss matters of concern 
with me, such that I'm not surprised by votes of my proxy, except, of 
course, that the proxy may change his or her mind due to deliberation 
or compromise in the assembly, in which case I would expect that 
this, also, be explained.

>>>      Size of senate has to be kept manageable.
>>>      Do not see a voter having a voice or vote except via a holder with
>>>enough proxies to qualify for a seat.
>>Exactly. The exact number I would leave to the vote of the 
>>assembly, assuming that this is a *full* vote, not merely the vote 
>>of the members.
>Explain how you make '"full" vote' work.  The voters DO have the 
>right to sign up with holders whose platforms conform to their desires.

That requires search and research, and a question such as the size of 
the assembly could not wait for that. Besides, it is not at all 
difficult to have direct voting. Indeed, for me, the question is 
whether or not *remote* voting should be permitted; if a citizen is 
actually present, they should be allowed to vote.

We don't need proxies to vote. We can vote directly, it's always been 
technically feasible even prior to computers. What we need proxies 
for is to represent us in the deliberative process. Voting without 
deliberation is little more than making snap judgements without 
thinking. (It is more because *some* people will have thought about 
and will have researched the issues, but the opinions of those people 
are diluted by the very many people who haven't.)

Exactly how would it work? Depends. First question: is remote voting 
allowed? That is, can people not physically present at the assembly 
vote? I can see arguments not to allow it, though the internet is 
changing things. The general argument is that those not present are 
not following the preceding discussion closely, as would be, 
presumably, those who are present. But with the internet it becomes 
possible for the debate to be transmitted in real time and followed 
by everyone who cares. Still, I'd be still quite happy if direct 
voting is limited to those present, so that is the question I will 
answer. There are low-tech ways and high-tech ways. The high-tech 
ways are not all that high-tech. There would be, readily available to 
those in the galleries of the Senate, small terminals. Perhaps you 
could obtain one when you enter, perhaps paying a small deposit, or 
perhaps paying nothing. Terminals like this are already used for 
voting in some assemblies. So when a vote is announced, you log into 
the terminal to establish your identity and you vote. Your vote is 
recorded just like the vote of full representatives. And like full 
representatives in a DP assembly, to your vote is added the votes of 
all those who are registered as assigning their proxy to you. Votes 
are recorded in a DP system the same they are in any roll-call, 
recorded vote system. The difference is that after the recording, 
votes are analyzed by adding the proxies of all not present and 
voting to those representing them, directly or indirectly. ("Voting" 
includes expressed abstentions.)

Now, there is another extension which might be possible. After the 
vote of those present is taken, there is a period during which those 
present communicate with their constituencies about any vote that 
they think might be controversial. After some delay, before 
legislation is final, the public has an opportunity to vote remotely, 
which they only need to do if they wish to effectively withdraw their 
own vote from what their proxy expressed. While this may make little 
difference in practice (a well-working DP system, because of the 
rapid back-and-forth that it can make possible, will rarely see a 
reversal of the actions of representatives by the general public), 
the fact that it would be possible would make it easier to trust 
proxies. You *don't* have to try to find a proxy with whom you agree 
on everything. Indeed, to find such a person will for many be impossible.

Ultimately, the proxy, in a DP system as well as in standard business 
practice, is someone you trust to handle certain affairs for you in 
your absence for whatever reason. When you are present and not 
incapacitated, the proxy is inactive. That's how it is with corporate 
proxies, that's how it is with health care proxies, indeed that is 
how it is with any power of attorney. We were just buying a house and 
we gave our attorney the right to sign for us. Obviously, we trusted 
him. It meant that documents could be executed without our presence, 
a huge time-saver, and this particular purchase was time-critical, 
the seller was in foreclosure and bankruptcy.

>Again, the task is to design a structure that:
>      Can get the assembly's job done in less than infinite time.

Yes. One of the benefits I expect from DP is the reduction in the 
size of assemblies, with a concomitant increase in efficiency. The 
U.S. House is *way* too large. Indeed, it only functions -- and the 
Senate, much smaller likewise only functions -- because of the 
committee system, which breaks it down into more manageable chunks 
and much smaller bodies. I suspect that an ideal assembly size is 
about twenty. Not coincidentally, about the size of the ideal proxy 
direct constituency that I expect. But the system I propose limits 
neither; rather, they would be limited by those involved, the motive 
being efficiency while still retaining sufficient diversity. Once 
again, the allowance of direct voting (which would often not be truly 
direct, but through a nonqualified proxy) means that diversity is not 
really lost.

>      Keeps voters from mucking up the works by voting without 
> attempting to understand the issue being voted on.

This is the fear of direct democracy. I don't see it happening at the 
Town Meeting level and I see no reason why it would happen at a 
larger level *if* full participation is restricted. Voting *never* 
mucks up the works, it only takes a few minutes with a good voting 
system, and even the relatively complex voting calculations that DP 
requires would only add milliseconds with computers. Maybe a few 
seconds if we are talking about the Parliament of the Earth. (DP is 
practical, I believe, in groups of up to a few thousand *without* 
computers, and in FAs, votes are really only polls so there is plenty 
of time to analyze them. Deliberative process requires, though, rapid 
votes. I do deliberative process through mailing lists and it takes a 
long time to go through the full democratic safeguards of Roberts 
Rules on a mailing list. You have to allow time for people to read 
the mail and respond, and some people are away for days at a time. Or 
more, but one has to draw the line somewhere. Delegable proxy could 
make this go very quickly. (I'd not allow full voting, with the 
concomitant delay time for discussion between proxies and those 
represented, for process motions, only for final, binding conclusions.)

Voters are, quite simply, not as stupid as we often seem to think. 
The present system *asks* them to make decisions on topics that they 
do not understand. If they could choose someone whom they trust to 
make those decisions for them, they would happily do so. Wouldn't 
you? I would only not do so if I could not revoke the trust whenever 
I lost confidence in my proxy, and, perhaps, if the decisions made by 
my proxy on my behalf were irreversible. Some decisions by their 
nature are irreversible, so I'd have to be content to trust my proxy 
with these or I'd have to participate directly.

Should we have gone to war in Iraq? I certainly had an opinion. But 
I'll have to grant that I *also* did not have access to a lot of 
information that I should really have had in order to make the 
decision on the best footing. I *wish* I had a trusted representative 
with access to that information. I don't, really. I don't even have 
anyone I personally know with that access, and I don't have a known 
chain of trust connecting me with such a person. Sure, I might have 
voted for, say, Kerry, but I don't really know him. I can be fooled, 
particularly when I only have access to media images, carefully crafted.

On the other hand, when a war is declared, it drags in everyone. I 
think that we should have the right to consent, or to withhold 
consent. If we don't trust our leaders, those with access, then, I'd 
suggest, we are not ready to go to war, simply on that basis, too 
much damage will be done. Allowing us to vote directly will not muck 
up the system, rather it will make it work better. If it is DP. I 
would *not* want to see a referendum, which then *invites* people 
with insufficient information and/or depth of understanding -- which 
takes time, usually -- to participate.

>FEW have time or ability to visit the senate.

Well, more than one might think. But so? I'm talking about a 
preserved right that backs up the system, not something that would be 
routinely exercised individually. But there might be a whole class of 
subqualified proxies, people representing relatively small groups, 
who might so vote. They might live in D.C.

Look, this is the idea: government with the full participation of the 
public, excepting only what must be limited due to problems of scale, 
i.e., any action which consumes bandwidth, that creates more traffic 
than the center and those around the center can efficiently handle.

Corporations may have hundreds of thousands of shareholders, who have 
the right to appear at the annual meeting and vote. Few do. But you 
can bet that large institutional shareholders will be there, 
personally, or by proxy. There are companies which do nothing else 
but represent such. Shareholders own corporations. Do we own the 
government? If not, why not?

"Government of the people, by the people, and for the people." Mere 
rhetoric? Or an inspiring vision, not yet fully realized? We could 
get much closer than Lincoln ever imagined. He was, in fact, quite 
willing to coerce people to remain in the Union, in spite of the 
complete absence of such a power in the Constitution. (See the 
writings of Lysander Spooner.)

*However,* please note that I have no opinion about how far we could 
go under present conditions toward implementing anarchist or 
libertarian ideas in government. I'm not, therefore, an anarchist or 
a libertarian except as regards some kind of theoretical ideal. My 
work, instead, is directed toward Free Associations, which *can* be 
fully free in an anarchist or libertarian sense, there is no doubt 
about it, and without harm even if the world is not ready for that 
level of freedom in government.

If I am right, FA/DP organizations could, without any change in laws, 
move the government using existing institutions, thus, effectively, 
forming a metagovernment operating on anarchist, libertarian 
principles. Which may not be called that, because of the possible 
confusion with Anarchism and Libertarianism as parties with 
platforms. *No* platform as an organization. I think few, if any 
anarchists and libertarians have ever entered this territory before, 
all anarchist/libertarian writings I have seen are rife with platform. 

More information about the Election-Methods mailing list