[EM] language/framing quibble

Fred Gohlke fredgohlke at verizon.net
Fri Mar 6 06:00:31 PST 2009

Good Morning, Juho

re: [my comment] "If we design a process that does not require
     campaigning, the evils of campaigning will be avoided."

     [you asked] "How will you do that?"

The method outlined in my February 4, 2008 post, "Selecting Leaders From 
The People" does not require campaigning.  An updated version of that 
post follows:

                        PRACTICAL DEMOCRACY
                (Selecting leaders FROM the people)

To select better leaders, we must 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 presents 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 electorate into triads, groups of three people.

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

    a. No participant may vote for himself.

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

3) Divide the participants so selected into new triads.

4) Repeat from step 2 until a target number of selections is
    reached.  The target number will be the number of local
    offices to be filled and the community's candidates for
    county, state and national elective offices.

An Electoral Commission conducts the process.  It names the participants 
of each triad and supplies the triads with the text of pending 
ordinances and a synopsis of the budget appropriate to the triad.  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, triads
   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 participants decide which of the remaining
   candidates will fill the local offices and which will be
   candidates for elective offices in the county, state and
   national 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 triad 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 
triad knowing that they must rely on that person's integrity to guide 
their future actions and decisions.  In doing so, they will choose the 
person they believe most likely to conduct public business in the public 

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 triads 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 campaign-based politics will not 
work in a triad 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.

This table is built around a hypothetical election in the Village of 
Owego, New York, as suggested by Dave Ketchum.  According to Wikipedia, 
Owego had a population of 3,911 as of the 2000 census.  In the absence 
of actual electoral data, we will estimate the electorate at 2,000 
people.  We will assume the election is to produce a Mayor for the 
Village of Owego and three candidates for county, state and national 
offices.  For simplicity, we will assume each of the triads selects a 

                   Full          Previous  Total  People    People
Level Candidates Triads Overflow  Level  Triads Selected Unselected
   1      2000      666      2              666     666      1334
   2       668      222      2       1      223     223       445 (1)
   3       223       74      1       2       75      75       148
   4        75       25                      25      25        50
   5        25        8      1       2        9       9        16 (2)

(1) Level 2 is a special case.  If the number of candidates does
     not divide equally into triads, any candidates remaining are
     overflow.  When there is overflow from Level 1, the extra
     person(s) automatically become candidates at Level 2.
     Thereafter, when there is overflow at any level, the number
     of people needed to create a full triad are selected at
     random from the people who were not selected at the previous

(2) The nine people selected at level 5 decide which of the nine
     will serve as Mayor of Owego and which three of the nine will
     compete for offices at the county, state and national levels.

To give a very rough idea of the time lapse required for such an 
election, we will hypothesize triad lives of 5 days for the 1st and 2nd 
levels, 12 days for the 3rd and 4th levels, 19 days for the 5th and 6th 
levels, and 26 days thereafter.  For the Owego example, that would work 
out something like this:

    Level  Start     Report         Days
      1)  07/09/08  07/14/08          5
      2)  07/16/08  07/21/08          5
      3)  07/23/08  08/04/08         12
      4)  08/06/08  08/18/08         12
      5)  08/20/08  09/08/08         19

The 9 people selected at level 5, would start meeting on September 10th 
and make their selections by September 29th, 19 days later.

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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