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Phil's Rambling Rants
May 3rd, 2010
02:58 pm


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Other people's representatives
Listening to the radio this morning got me thinking about something about political systems that I've though about before, but never come up with any really solid ideas.  I am, however, curious if other people have thought about this too, so I'm going to mumble about my thoughts and see if anyone out there is inspired to mumble back.

Representative democracy exists to ensure that there is someone who can speak for local concerns before the larger body (whether it be the country, one state, or one city).  But even at its theoretical best, it seems to institutionalize selfishness when sometimes we need to work for the greater good.  I don't want to name specific examples because I don't want a partisan debate, but I'm sure anyone can come up with examples from both sides of the aisle who are very popular with their own electorate and reviled by voters everywhere else.

My question is, could there be a system that actually allowed voters some say about those elected in other jurisdictions?  I'm not talking about an equal say, electing all seats on an at large basis.  But I'm wondering if a system where people had a full vote for their own representatives and also a small partial vote in other elections could work.  Or perhaps a system where the whole body politic could force a recall of someone from one district.

My hope is that a mechanism like this would put a check on the representatives who become more equal than others, who have leadership positions that make their opinions more important than others and who use those positions to bring home the pork or to prevent projects that would benefit everyone from being developed in the big shot's back yard.  My fear is that it would become another tool by which established political parties and interests could quash dissent.

Has anyone heard of a system like this actually being used?  Has it been discussed before?

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(2 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:May 3rd, 2010 08:18 pm (UTC)
Personally, I do not think that such a system would be desirable. We need representative democracy to represent the non-majority. Shifting in favor of the majority would take away more representation than it would gain.

However, I personally feel that the age of regional representation has passed. As more of us communicate online or travel hither and yon, it doesn't make sense to have districts as such. Part of me wonders how things would change if, instead of 100 senators divided by geography, we all got one positive and one negative vote, and every year got to apply them to the pool of senators up for re-election. That would give each person (assuming current term limits) four senators that were "theirs" and could be more relied upon to represent their interests.

Clearly, it's a vastly different system than what we (we == USA) have now, but I think that it might work well. It might even work better, in that some of the more marginalized voices would get more representation, with a check that if a LOT of people disliked that sub-group enough to vote against them, they wouldn't get in... but if that sub-group got big enough, you couldn't keep them out (negative votes would be watered down).
[User Picture]
Date:May 3rd, 2010 09:56 pm (UTC)
We kinda have that now. All these screaming pundits and rich folks trying to get X Y or Z banned or laws passed in your city/county/state... how many of them actually live in your city/county/state? You have organizations now hellbent on the destruction of whatever focusing attention on state 1, getting the laws there changed, then focusing attention on state 2, and so on.
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