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Why Can’t We Have A Real Democracy?

I think that we have learned this in the past four years: we do not have a real democracy. By that I mean we do not have a system in which the voices of individuals are heard. Yet with the technology that has arisen in the past 10 years, we could have such a democracy.

town hall meetings

During these days of COVID-19, we have learned that we can communicate with each other on a joint basis by using systems such as Zoom. We could use such systems to re-establish town hall meetings at which we could discuss and decide local issues. In other words, even in cities as large as New York, we could have town hall meetings of limited size (say, 50 people in each) to discuss local issues of importance. There would be enough town halls to give everyone who wanted to participate a chance to do so. The town halls could decide what issues are important by voting, and the important issues (the ones that drew the most votes) could be decided by a collective vote in all the town hall meetings in the city or town.

Having a national poll on important issues would inspire the creation of political organizations to organize voting blocs. and we would inevitably end up with a more educated and interested population.

We have also learned by the plethora of polls flung at us every day on the internet that we could have monthly national votes on issues of importance through the internet. For example, right now the Republicans and the Democrats in Congress cannot agree on plans to spend money in order to get the country back on its feet. The Democrats want to spend $3 trillion on a defined group of programs, and the Republicans only want to spend $1 trillion. President Trump wants to stop collecting the payroll tax for awhile to shift those funds into particular programs. Democrats do not, because the payroll tax is used to fund Social Security and Medicare. So why not put those questions up for a national vote over the internet?

How would be sure that there was no cheating? Every voter would have a voting card with his or her name, social security number, and picture. The voter could vote from any computer by recording the vote card. Even people who didn’t own a computer could vote at libraries, police stations, city halls, or grocery stores. They could vote on any day during the month, making their views known. And the votes would go to a central computer and be tabulated. Every month there would be a different vote on a different issue.

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I was thinking that perhaps the voters could put their votes in two places so that each would be a check on the other. That way, if the total votes were different in the two system, there would be an investigation.

What impact would the national poll vote have? First of all, the votes could be broken down by congressional district. That way we could check and see if representatives were really representing the will of their constituents. Second, if the polling system worked, then the results of the polling system would override whatever the Congress did.

How could we simply explain complex questions to voters? California does that. When someone proposes an amendment to the Constitution to be voted on by the people, organizations for or against what is being proposed write explanations in the information provided to voters. This seems to work.

I would expect that having a national poll on important issues would inspire the creation of political organizations to organize voting blocs. Some of these might be created by political parties, but others might be made up of those interested in the specific issue. Inevitably, we would have a population more educated and interested in issues that impact all of us. And, I believe, we would have results which are closer to the wishes of the general population and not those paying off the political representatives.

michael hertz

Michael Hertz