A proposal to fix our democracy

There is a serious flaw in our voting process!

Suppose that early in an election year government spending is the important issue. Then suppose that near election time a big issue over some war arises and party A has one solution and party B another. In the fervor to decide the war issue, the now secondary issue (spending) gets lost: party A might want to spend a little and party B might want to spend a lot, and if the majority of the people want to reduce spending, well, tough luck. In fact ALL other issues are lost amidst the war debate!

Now in this example a third party could provide both the right war and spending options, but as the number of issues increases so is there a need for more parties to represent the choices – which means we end up with lots of votes spread around lots of candidates and no clear majority.

The current two party single vote system can only present clear choices for a single issue, and then only if that issue only has two solutions. Our lives have become much too complex for us to deal with one or two big issues four years at a time. We need something far more accurate.

And if that isn’t enough, we also mix personalities and and issues into our voting decisions! How can we ever send clear signals to Washington about issues when we are busy choosing a personality to lead us?

So what can we do?

First of all I propose we leave the present two (multi? hah!) party system intact. It would be far too big a change to try and impose a restructuring of the current political lines and affiliations. Besides we don’t have evidence that a three or more party system works any better, and in fact they seem to be worse. Let the current system remain.

Instead I propose the following: we should vote twice in an election year, once on July 2, and then again on November 2. However in the July election we should not choose between candidates but instead should choose how to solve our current issues. The ballot would consist of a few carefully thought out solutions for our current pressing social, economic, military, and governance problems.

We would then choose how we prefer each issue be resolved (each of us can ignore the issues for which we have no interest) and once the July ballots are in, the candidates can then campaign for the job of supporting our platform. Finally in November we would choose who we want just as we do today.

Benefits of this system

  • Highly accurate communication to politicians about how we want problems solved.
  • Allows smaller and less pressing issues to surface and receive needed attention.
  • Careful thought once again becomes the basis for the country’s decision making process.
  • Separation of personalities from issues will increase voter participation. (some people would vote only in July, some in November, but everyone could vote in both months). Further more, just about everyone has a strong opinion on at least one issue. This should encourage better turnout for at least the July election, and should reduce apathy for the November election.
  • Better accountability once in office. Actions that clearly do not support the elected platform could become grounds for disciplinary action or impeachment.

Selection of current issues

The July ballot should be complied by a randomly selected panel of respected but purely academic researchers, verifiably without commercial ties, who have published in their area of expertise for at least a decade. We will want panelists from each of the social, economic, historic, technical, and political disciplines. Eligibility for the selection pool should be come from a vote of peers within each discipline. And finally all eligible panelists will need to divulge a history of personal and familial gifts and assets to expose external influence, favoritism, and corruption.

All panelists should be permitted to vote on the reasonableness of each issue and solution with a majority vote required for inclusion on the ballot.

As always, voter education would continue to be imperative and newspapers, periodicals, TV, and of course now the Web, should(!) encourage discussion and explanation of the meanings, pros, and cons of each ballot issue and solution.

Problems with this system?

You tell me, add your comment at the bottom of this page. California has been doing something like this with their referendums for a long time now but academians do not choose or even verify their solutions!

Support for Geographic Differences

A classic controversy in American politics is whether a law should be decided at the state or federal level. Disagreements over this issue abound and shifts in power continue to occur with legislators at both levels claiming to know what their constituents want.

Issue based voting however could put a majority of the controversy to rest. A clear majority of voters nation wide for a particular issue would indicate federal legislation is the best solution. Likewise, regional differences for states, counties, and even municipalities could be recognized and control transferred for that issue to the governing body for that region.

Clarifying geographic preferences could also create a new way to look for a place to live. People or families on the move could easily consult the city and state in question for the set of local preferences before settling down to make a new home.


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