Our elections have devolved into ugly, angry, hateful affairs that are little more than non-stop fundraising campaigns punctuated at regular intervals by expensive advertising campaigns as election days approach. Billions of dollars are raised and spent. Many, perhaps even most, of the winning candidates are corrupted in the process of raising the enormous amounts of money needed to be taken seriously as a candidate. Candidates are packaged like products by well-paid consultants.
Estimates of the total amount of money raised and spent by candidates for Congress and state legislatures in the 2022 mid-term election range from $8.9 billion to $16.7 billion. Much of that money was spent to fund a tsunami of “attack ads” that viscously (and often deceptively) attacked a candidate’s opponent. Positive ads that promote candidate are typically filled with “glittering generalities” that mean nothing. Candidate’s speak in consultant-approved sound bites designed to appeal to the combination of demographics that will result in a candidate reaching her or his perceived “win number”. Mainstream (corporate-owned) media focus on reporting which candidates have raised the most money and which candidates are ahead in the polls. There is almost no discussion of the problems and issues we are facing as a nation, no matter how critically they need to be addressed.
There are numerous flaws in manner in which we conduct our elections: gerrymandering, the dominant role of money, the geographic basis for representation (which provides for states and legislative districts to be represented, rather than people), and the dominance of the two major parties. All of these flaws serve to limit choices for voters.
Elections have proven to be a deeply flawed method for choosing our representatives. Fortunately, there is a better way –
A proxy is the authority to represent someone else, especially in voting. When you assign your proxy to someone, you authorize them to vote on your behalf.
Both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party utilize proxies at meetings of their national committees. The U. S. House of Representatives used proxies among its members in the early days of the pandemic, to minimize their exposure to the virus. Proxies are routinely used by corporations to allow shareholders to designate someone to vote on their behalf at annual shareholder meetings.
The best way to ensure that votes taken in Congress and state legislatures reflect the will of the people, is to give every citizen who is governed by the laws passed by a legislative body, a proxy that can be assigned to any member of that legislative body, and then allow each legislator to cast a number of votes equal to the number of proxies they hold (plus one for themselves) on every matter that comes before that legislative body (including votes taken in committees and on procedural matters).
Implementing a system of proxies for citizens will fundamentally alter the nature of the relationship between citizens and their representatives. Proxies will immediately establish a strong, near perfect, correlation between the will of the people and the acts of Congress and state legislatures.
Within the system that is in place, none of the legislation favored by a majority of the people is likely to pass. Certainly not anytime soon. As soon as we implement a system of proxies for citizens in both houses of Congress, or in a state legislature, all of the legislation favored by a majority of the people will be enacted immediately.
Proxies will instantly transform our corrupt, broken, dysfunctional legislatures into truly democratic institutions. There is no other reform we could enact that even comes close to doing as much as Proxies for Citizens will do to make America a more perfect democracy.
Direct democracy is sometimes referred to as "pure democracy" because laws and public policies are determined by the decisions of the majority of voters, with each voter voting directly and having a single vote. With proxies we will be represented by legislators who vote the way we would vote.
Allowing every citizen to assign their proxies to the legislators they believe are most likely to vote the same way they would vote on issues of concern to them will result in a system that effectively allows citizens to vote on legislation, albeit indirectly, through their chosen representatives. Votes in Congress (or a state legislature) will align closely with what the results would have been if the voters had voted directly on legislation.
Within a proxy system, power will flow to legislators who hold the most proxies. Legislators who show leadership on key issues and help get legislation supported by a majority of the citizenry enacted will attract more proxies. Legislators who do not demonstrate leadership or who vote “with a view to the private interest” will see the number of proxies they hold shrink appreciably over time. The amount of money a legislator has raised will be of little interest to voters focused on actually and effectively addressing the problems we face as a nation. Making leadership on key issues, rather than raising the most money or seniority, the key to gaining power and remaining in office will be appealing to politicians who ran for office and serve for the right reasons.
Without making any other changes to our electoral and political systems, implementing a system of proxies will greatly increase the number of choices we have with regard to who represents us in Congress and our state legislatures. Instead of the one or two or three viable candidates appearing on the ballot in the legislative district in which we reside, we will be able to assign our proxies to any of the 435 members in the U. S. House; 100 senators; and any one of the senators and representatives our state legislature as our representatives.
Most of us do not feel represented by Congress or our state legislature. Proxies will forge a much more direct connection between us and our elected representatives making it clear that the legislators to whom we assign our proxies will be casting votes on our behalf. With that being the case, most citizens will pay closer attention to how legislators are voting, especially to the way the representative they have chosen are voting on legislation addressing issues of concern to them. Any citizen who disagrees with the way the legislators to whom they have assigned their proxies cast their votes will be free to reassign their proxies to legislators who will vote the way they would vote. This will ensure that all citizens will not only feel represented, they will be represented.
Implementing a system of proxies will immediately result in the achievement of the most essential element of representative democracy – equal representation for all citizens. Every citizen will have one proxy to assign to one member of each legislative body that governs them. “Equal interests among the people” will have “equal interest” in each legislative body.
As more and more voters utilize their proxies in this manner, the focus of both legislators and media will shift from endless arguments and posturing by politicians to legislators proposing solutions to the problems we face as a nation (and in the states) and debating the pros and cons of each proposed solution. The response of the citizenry to various ideas put forward by our elected representatives will be tangible and objective – evidenced by the increases and decreases in the number of proxies held by legislators on both sides of an issue. That is a much more constructive focus for political activity and media attention than who has raised the most money and who is ahead in the polls in the midst of an ugly, angry election.
The Declaration of Independence says that governments derive their "just powers" from "the consent of the governed” but does not go into the details of how the consent of the governed is to be obtained. The implicit (and reasonable) assumption is that the “governed” give their consent through voting. But the many problems plaguing our elections have rendered voting ineffective as the means of obtaining the consent of the governed. Giving every citizen a proxy that can be assigned to any member of the legislative bodies that govern them is the best means of properly obtaining the “consent of the governed”.
Proxies will empower active citizens and political organizations to build support for major pieces of legislation by reassigning their proxies as necessary, moving them to members of Congress and state legislatures who have demonstrated their support by introducing or cosponsoring the desired legislation. Once a majority of the members of a legislative body have signed on as cosponsors, the legislation can be brought to a vote and enacted.
Many Americans who are eligible to vote do not vote because they believe (with considerable justification) that their votes do not matter. The fact that citizens who have assigned proxies to legislators will be voting, albeit indirectly, on the legislation voted on in Congress and state legislatures, will dramatically increase civic participation for citizens of all ages.
Frequent elections have long been seen as the primary means of making legislators (and other elected officials) accountable to voters. Even with relatively short terms of office, however, citizens often have to wait for an election that may be nearly two, four, or six years away to effectively register their displeasure with legislators who are failing to keep their campaign promises or opposing legislation favored by a majority of the citizenry. And even then, the flaws in our electoral system may make it difficult, if not impossible, to vote a politician out of office, even if they have failed to keep their campaign promises.
There is also a major drawback to frequent elections. Legislators end up spending inordinate amounts of time raising money for their campaigns and campaigning for reelection instead of legislating. This is especially true for legislators who serve two-year terms and must engage in fundraising nearly non-stop if they wish to remain in office. Proxies will enable citizens to immediately and effectively withdraw their support from a legislator by reassigning their proxy.
Depending on where your eighteenth birthday or naturalization falls within election cycles for various offices, it may be up to two years before you can vote for who will represent you in the House of Representatives and as many as four to six years before you can vote for both of the senators from your state. With a system of proxies in place, citizens will be represented immediately upon turning eighteen or becoming a naturalized citizen.
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