[Election-Methods] Selecting Leaders From The People

Fred Gohlke fredgohlke at verizon.net
Mon Feb 4 19:04:09 PST 2008

This submission is not responsive to any of the material in tonight's 
discussion.  It is a new topic.  As a newcomer, I'm not certain this is 
the proper way to make my first submission.  If I'm out of line, please 
enlighten me.


Fred Gohlke

                        ACTIVE DEMOCRACY
               (Selecting leaders FROM the people)

To select better leaders, we must find a way to select the most 
principled of our people as our representatives.  The method must be 
democratic (i.e., allow the entire electorate to participate), 
egalitarian (i.e., give everyone an equal chance to participate), and it 
must be in harmony with natural human responses.

This outline will present such a concept in the simplest, most direct 
way possible.  It will, necessarily, mention a few of the mechanics, but 
they are secondary.  The important thing is the concept of harnessing 
human nature.  Once we've seen a way to do that, we can concern 
ourselves with the myriad other details.

Although the process is continuous, I will describe it as having two 
phases.  The human factors dominating the first phase will metamorphose 
into a different set of factors as the second phase develops.  This 
metamorphosis is the "magic" of the process.

1) Divide the entire electorate into groups of three people.

2) Assign a date and time by which each group must select
    one of the three to represent the other two.

    a. No participant may vote for himself.

    b. If a group is unable to select a representative in the
       specified time, the group is disqualified.

3) Divide the participants so selected into groups of three.

4) Repeat from step 2 until a target number of selections is

An Election Commission conducts the process.  It names the participants 
of each group and supplies the groups with the text of pending 
ordinances and a synopsis of the budget appropriate to the group.  In 
addition, on request, it makes the full budget available and supplies 
the text of any existing ordinances.  This insures a careful examination 
of public matters and encourages a thorough discussion of partisan views 
on matters of public concern.

For convenience, we refer to each iteration as a "Level", such that 
Level 1 is the initial grouping of the entire electorate, Level 2 is the 
grouping of the selections made at Level 1, and so forth.  The entire 
electorate participates at level 1 giving everyone an equal opportunity 
to advance to succeeding levels.

* As the process advances through the levels, the amount of time
   the participants spend together increases.  At level 1, groups
   may meet for a few minutes, over a back-yard fence, so-to-
   speak, but that would not be adequate at higher levels.  As the
   levels advance, the participants need more time to evaluate
   those they are grouped with.  They also need transportation and
   facilities for meeting and voting.  These are mechanical details.

* The public has a tendency to think of elections in terms of
   just a few offices: a congressional seat, a senate race, and so
   forth.  There are, however, a large number of elected officials
   who fill township, county, state and federal offices.  The
   structure outlined here provides qualified candidates for those
   offices, as follows:

   At a predefined level (determined by the number of offices to
   be filled), the two candidates not selected to advance to the
   next level move into a parallel process leading to selection
   for offices; first in the local, then the county, then the
   national, and, finally, the state governments.

The initial phase of the process is dominated by participants with 
little interest in advancing to higher levels.  They do not seek public 
office; they simply wish to pursue their private lives in peace.  Thus, 
the most powerful human dynamic during the first phase (i.e., Level 1 
and for some levels thereafter) is a desire by the majority of the 
participants to select someone who will represent them.  The person so 
selected is more apt to be someone who is willing to take on the 
responsibility of going to the next level than someone who actively 
seeks elevation to the next level, but those who do actively seek 
elevation are not inhibited from doing so.

As the levels increase, the proportion of disinterested parties 
diminishes and we enter the second phase.  Here, participants that 
advance are marked, more and more, by an inclination to seek further 
advancement.  Thus, a powerful human trait is integrated into the system.

Those who actively seek selection must persuade their group that they 
are the best qualified to represent the other two.  While that is easy 
at the lower levels, it becomes more difficult as the process moves 
forward and participants are matched with peers who also wish to be chosen.

Each participant must make a choice between the other two people in the 
group knowing that they must rely on that person's integrity to guide 
their future actions and decisions.  Since they are unable to control 
the person selected, they must choose the person they believe most 
likely to conduct public business in the public interest.

However, they do not make their choices blindly.  Elections are a 
periodic process.  The majority of those seeking advancement will do so 
each time the process recurs.  Some will be successful.  They will 
achieve public office and their performance will be a matter of public 
record.  When they participate in subsequent occurrences of the process, 
their peers can evaluate that record to help them decide the candidate's 
suitability for advancement.  Furthermore, the names of advancing 
candidates are announced as each level completes.  Members of the public 
with knowledge of unseemly acts by an advancing candidate can present 
details for consideration at the next level.  Since, after the initial 
levels, the peers also seek advancement, they won't overlook 
inappropriate behavior.

Face-to-face meetings in three-person groups eliminate any possibility 
of voting machine fraud.  Significantly, they also allow participants to 
observe the non-verbal clues humans emit during discourse and will tend 
to favor moderate attitudes over extremism.  The dissimulation and 
obfuscation that are so effective in media-based politics will not work 
in a group of three people, each of whom has a vital interest in 
reaching the same goal as the miscreant.  Thus, the advancement of 
participants will depend on their perceived integrity as well as the 
probity with which they fulfill their public obligations.

This is a distillation process, biased in favor of the most upright and 
capable of our citizens.  It cannot guarantee that unprincipled 
individuals will never be selected ... such a goal would be unrealistic 
... but it does insure that they are the exception rather than the rule.

The process is inherently bi-directional.  Because each elected official 
sits atop a pyramid of known electors, questions on specific issues can 
easily be transmitted directly to and from the electors for the guidance 
or instruction of the official.

The cost of conducting an election by this method is free to the 
participants, except for the value of their time, and minimal to the 
government.  Thus, it removes the greatest single cause of corruption in 
our current system ... the need for campaign funds.

I originally thought to buttress this presentation by citing two 
newspaper articles that discuss the (apparent) lack of interest in the 
election process among the majority of the electorate and the working of 
corruption in our system.  I've decided that to do so would be superfluous.

This table provides a visual description of the Active Democracy (or 
Troika) method of selecting public officials.  It uses the 2004 
voting-eligible population of New Jersey reported by Dr. Michael 
McDonald, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA.

At about the seventh level, unselected candidates may enter a secondary 
process for selection to positions in municipal, county, federal and 
state governments.

           Remaining          Candidates
Level      Electors     Selected   Unselected
   1)      5,637,378    1,879,126    3,758,252
   2)      1,879,126      626,375    1,252,751
   3)        626,375      208,791      417,584
   4)        208,791       69,597      139,194
   5)         69,597       23,199       46,398
   6)         23,199        7,733       15,466
   7)          7,733        2,577        5,156
   8)          2,577          859        1,718
   9)            859          286          573
  10)            286           95          191
  11)             95           31           64

The idea presented here will be considered radical.  It bears little 
chance of adoption because it protects no vested interest.  The only way 
such a process will ever be adopted is if the concept can be made a 
topic of discussion, particularly among students interested in achieving 
a righteous government.

Fred Gohlke

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