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Democracy without Elections

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Dániel Boros
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Since it is election season I thought it's time to share with you one of my ideas on democracy.

Every 4 years new people are elected to the federal government as representatives. Now to me that 4 years sounds a bit much. If I elect someone and that someone doesn't do what he tolled me he would do I can't get back my vote. I have to wait four years to take away my vote from the representative who did not represent me. On the market If I don't like a service I can stop using it. If I don't think my stock will go up I can sell it. If I don't think I will get a job in the town I live I can move. Politicians often only care about their last year even though they were elected for four.

So how about this? What if there were no elections at all, and instead you would have a token that you could always get back and give to someone else. If some politician had the most tokens of a district he would be the one that could stay in Washington. If someone looses so many tokens that someone else actually has more than the guy in Washington would be replaced by the new guy. I would suggest a small fee you would need to pay when you give your token to someone else, but other than that you could select anyone at any time.

With our modern technology a system like that which was impossible back in the 18 hundreds could be easily created.

I'm sure someone will point out that kicking out a politician while he is working could lead to some unintended consequences, but don't forget, this is how markets work.

that will be all

peace

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Could a politician from their podium declare as a condition of delegating your token to me, you are agreeing to a four year, or even a lifetime contract, after which, your tokens will be returned to be reused at some future point in time? Would the contract be binding? Instead of a democracy, could we have a theocracy or a monarchy established without an election too? Is there a way to go about keeping a Constitutionally Limited Republic as Ben Franklin admonsihed? Can we buy and sell our tokens to use on the behalf of or have used on our behalf, as or by an intermediary "token" representative?

Oh, and what if we kicked out a politian while he was working and it led to some unintended consequence(s) unlike the markets have been observed to work?

What would this do to the confidentiality of ones vote? If there is a record of who voted for whom, and this record were compromised, could this lead anywhere? Would this resolve or increase the complexity of dealing with voter fraud, or discrimination on the basis of discovering how you voted?

Edited by dream_weaver
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@dream_weaver

?????

Daniel didn't suggest abolishing the constitution (in this thread) so I don't know where these questions are coming from. The system he is proposing is a hightech direct democracy with poll taxes and referendums.

@Daniel Boros

If you are working for a company, you may make a mistake. It may even be a big mistake, but often you won't get fired because it is more expensive to hire a new employee and train them.

However voters don't see the money behind this. They have no way to calculate the cost of firing the administrator/politician vs the cost of their mistakes. Honestly they have no interest in caring either. A voter could just get mad and fire a perfectly good administrator (like a sheriff) over some silly scandal (he cheated on his wife with a younger man) when that has nothing to do with his job.

I would suggest that the poll tax should be high.

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@ Hairnet

The question arose from making a distinction between a democracy without elections, and using a democratic method of selecting representatives via a token system. In this sense, I am sharing with you my idea of democracy as distinguished from other types of political systems.

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Depends on what you mean by problem. It sure would be interesting how voters would react when the legislation passing laws that allows the indefinite detention of American citizens. Or when someone wants to bail out banks that are too big to fail. Or when the President wants to go to war with someone nobody cares about.

Could a politician from their podium declare as a condition of delegating your token to me, you are agreeing to a four year, or even a lifetime contract, after which, your tokens will be returned to be reused at some future point in time?

NO. The right to vote is as basic as the right to your own body.

Would the contract be binding?

Do you mean would the politician be binded by the contract he makes with the voter. NO.

Instead of a democracy, could we have a theocracy or a monarchy established without an election too?

NO a theocrat or a monarch could be just as easily removed as anyone else. Plus the constitution should prevent such things from coming into being.

Is there a way to go about keeping a Constitutionally Limited Republic as Ben Franklin admonsihed? Can we buy and sell our tokens to use on the behalf of or have used on our behalf, as or by an intermediary "token" representative?

Selling tokens is no different from selling your vote. The process of giving your token away to someone is anonym the same way as elections are. The official only knows how many tokens he has not who's.

Oh, and what if we kicked out a politian while he was working and it led to some unintended consequence(s) unlike the markets have been observed to work?

Shit happens. When business fail people need to look for a different job. Also you need a really big scandal to loose your position, plus if the whole thing was a hoax you can get it back again.

What would this do to the confidentiality of ones vote? If there is a record of who voted for whom, and this record were compromised, could this lead anywhere? Would this resolve or increase the complexity of dealing with voter fraud, or discrimination on the basis of discovering how you voted?

You could have a voter ID that has no personal info on it and vote with that. If you try to vote with someone else's ID you would soon be caught when the real owner of the ID shows up (or at least the next time you try to use the ID). When you register you need to prove that you are eligible to vote, but your personal info should not be registered. If there's wide scale voter fraud in a region the govt. could issue new tokens,

@dream_weaver

If you are working for a company, you may make a mistake. It may even be a big mistake, but often you won't get fired because it is more expensive to hire a new employee and train them.

However voters don't see the money behind this. They have no way to calculate the cost of firing the administrator/politician vs the cost of their mistakes. Honestly they have no interest in caring either. A voter could just get mad and fire a perfectly good administrator (like a sheriff) over some silly scandal (he cheated on his wife with a younger man) when that has nothing to do with his job.

I would suggest that the poll tax should be high.

This system is meant for the federal government not for law enforcement.

I wouldn't put the poll tax too heigh otherwise voters won't vote at all. I would say 20$-30$.

Edited by Dániel Boros
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Depends on what you mean by problem. It sure would be interesting how voters would react when the legislation passing laws that allows the indefinite detention of American citizens. Or when someone wants to bail out banks that are too big to fail. Or when the President wants to go to war with someone nobody cares about.
From what I know of the typical American voter, any more direct democracy will result in far worse laws. Today, a random sample of American politicians pretty-much represents a random sample of American voters. Having more direct democracy would likely result in a short range-of-moment focus and more soaking of the rich.
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This is not direct democracy. In direct democracy you vote on policy not on people and you only need a small number of people to pass any law.

What I suggest in reality isn't any more direct than what we already have.

I am not arguing for direct democracy which is:

Direct democracy is a form of democracy in which people vote on policy initiatives directly, as opposed to a representative democracy in which people vote for representatives who then vote on policy initiatives.

If the opinion of the voters don't matter why not have a totalitarian government?

Edited by Dániel Boros
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From what I know of the typical American voter, any more direct democracy will result in far worse laws. Today, a random sample of American politicians pretty-much represents a random sample of American voters. Having more direct democracy would likely result in a short range-of-moment focus and more soaking of the rich.

This. It’s an interesting idea to chew on but I see bad things if deployed on a large scale.

Imagine short term emotional reactions to specific events, for example how would have people "voted" directly after the 9-11 attacks? If you think the Patriot Act was bad imagine what could have been done if someone manipulated the emotional reaction the week following those attacks.

Politics is already being treated like a reality TV show by the news without instant votes to kick people off the island.

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Do you realize how much money would it require to achieve a majority with a 30$ token and that whatever happens could be reversed the same way it was made?

Also if that is all you worry about a time lag can be introduced of 1 week before the token change takes effect. That way people can change their minds for free during that week.

Edited by Dániel Boros
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Political science, in the sense of the best implementation of government, isn't my forte, so I don't plan on getting too deep into these matters.

However, it occurs to me that the Founding Fathers did consider the length of term appointments. After all, while they couldn't have practically introduced the sort of token system under discussion, they certainly could have instituted smaller terms than the four years for president or six years for senator (to at least the two years for representative, which also stands as a correction of the OP).

I believe that they felt a longer term allowed for a certain sort of "independence" from the judgement of the voting populace -- an independence that a senator, say, might need in order to make essentially unpopular, but correct, decisions (though of course senators were originally appointed by state governments, a further buffer against "public passion"). Meanwhile, the members of the House of Representatives, being elected every two years, were meant to be much more sensitive to the public's current interests (and possibly thus more dangerous to principled action, or that which is best in the long-term). It is all a part of the "checks and balances" idea.

I believe that representatives in a republican system such as ours are meant to be more than mere proxies for popular sentiment, but are meant to be autonomous, intelligent and informed agents capable of making the best decisions despite a transient, destructive popular sentiment. I think that the token system under discussion might hurt some of the safeguards we have in place against just such a thing.

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If the opinion of the voters don't matter why not have a totalitarian government?

But why assume that the only alternative to democracy is autocracy? (That is what I think you meant by totalitarian government, since technically democracy can be as total as anything else.) But in fact there is a third option. Rather than the many dictating to the few or the few dictating to the many, why not seek a world where nobody is in a position to dictate to anybody?
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Objectivism's idea of Capitalism cannot be reconciled with Democracy. Learning government administration is a specialization in itself, and keeping up with even a narrow scope of government activity in a large nation is a full time job in itself. Productive citizens who already specialize in a field and have jobs cannot possibly afford the time and effort to also run the government on the side. In fact, it would be impossible to run the whole government even for someone fully dedicated to the task.

While Objectivism doesn't really go into what the structure of a LFC government ought to be, it is pretty obvious (and as far as I know, the established view among Objectivist intellectuals) that some kind of a constitutionally guided (and segregated into different branches and agencies, each with limited responsibilities, duties and scope of activity) government that is a combination of a representative government (for the political leadership which has oversight of the whole of the government; preferably representative of only citizens who actively contribute to it, by serving in the military/law enforcement or paying voluntary taxes) and meritocracy (for the judicial branch, military, law enforcement leadership), is the only system that can be reasonably expected to result in a LFC government.

Democracy, totalitarianism, anarchy, or any mix of the three simply cannot work to achieve that end.

Edited by Nicky
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This is the kind of things which leads directly to bank bail outs and stimulus. If you don't stimulate, or bail the banks out, you have a big recession, but in return, you avoid delaying the recession to the future where it will be more severe and let the economy restructure so that you can get on the track of a real recovery. Just imagine if any President tried to whether a recession without taking action. He would be voted out in a week and the new guy would immediately gain support as the markets react positively to his stimulus and bailouts. The only thing that could avert this is a population of really good ideas but any mixture between good and bad ideas will lead to the bad, whim of the moment, ideas taking over government.

Edited by oso
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This is the kind of things which leads directly to bank bail outs and stimulus. If you don't stimulate, or bail the banks out, you have a big recession, but in return, you avoid delaying the recession to the future where it will be more severe and let the economy restructure so that you can get on the track of a real recovery. Just imagine if any President tried to whether a recession without taking action. He would be voted out in a week and the new guy would immediately gain support as the markets react positively to his stimulus and bailouts. The only thing that could avert this is a population of really good ideas but any mixture between good and bad ideas will lead to the bad, whim of the moment, ideas taking over government.

Are you sure that the people supported the bail outs and the stimulus? I mean the current system did not prevent this so don't really see the validity of the argument. I would say politicians did what they did because they knew they could get away with it.

On a side not about the issue of the people being ignorant compared to the wise bureaucrats of Washington:

This is somewhat related to Atlas Shrugged

Edited by Dániel Boros
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Are you sure that the people supported the bail outs and the stimulus? I mean the current system did not prevent this so don't really see the validity of the argument. I would say politicians did what they did because they knew they could get away with it.
People did not support the bailouts as such, but that is because they thought the bail outs were helping big banks. However, if the government had allowed things to go into a full-fledged deflationary spin, voters would have been much angrier. In the end, people like it when they are the ones being bailed out. Michiganders were happy when Obama bailed out the auto companies. People were happy that the government sent stimulus money to cities across the country, allowing cuts in city and school budgets to be less severe. The typical voter is fairly Keynesian and fairly statist in his thinking.

Added:

I remember a scene from a tea-party event down in Florida. Voters were protesting things like TARP and stimulus and deficits. A reporter began to question them on specifics and soon enough the protesters were saying that NASA's budget should not be cut!

Edited by softwareNerd
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