Monday, October 31, 2005

AUN! Thoughts: Subscription, A New and Better Way to Chose Legislators

In my post on choosing government officials, I mentioned one method of choosing representatives that has a great deal of potential.

It would eliminate the need for campaign financing and the pressure for laws that restrict free speech in the name of cleaner elections. It would mean that no one would have to be represented by a member of a different party. I call this system, subscription.

Under this system, instead of having an election to chose one legislator, people contract with a like minded citizen to represent them. Unlike most legislatures, where each member has an equal vote, under subscription each member has a number of votes equal to the number of people who have chosen him as their representative. Likewise the order and time for debate of each member would be determined by the number of people who had chosen the member.

Some may object that this would result in an unmanageably large legislature. However under subscription, the citizens not only chose their legislator, they pay him. The contract which each constituent signed would have a compensation clause committing each constituent to pay the representative X amount per month. The result of this would be a tendency for constituents and representative to want each representative to have a large number of constituents. To illustrate this point a representative with a million constituents could charge a cent per month and have a salary of $10,000, where as a representative with 50,000 constituents would have to charge 20 cents to have the same salary.

In addition to eliminating the problems of campaign finance and representation by a person you voted against, subscription would be much more responsive to the demands of the voters. They could contractually bind their representative to vote in accordance to their wishes or they could simply withdraw their vote from their current representative and give it to one they thought would better represent them.

Subscription also has the virtue that unlike systems requiring elections the plethora of polling places, poll workers and poll watchers would not be necessary. Instead a credentialing committee could check to make sure that the people contracting with the representative really exist and that they have contracted with the representative. This makes subscription especially valuable in instances where a formal organization is not already in place.

In sum, subscription is democratic, is more responsive than systems based on election, doesn’t have the campaign finance problems of elections, and allows everyone to be represented by a person of their choice.

1 comment:

Cardozo Bozo said...

This is quite posibly the strangest and yet most intriguing political model I have ever seen.

I think you'd have a Brad Pitt / Rish Limbaugh problem; namely that political 'celebrities' will outnumber well schooled politicians in about the same proportion that romance novels and Summer blockbusters outsell thoughtful and carefully written books & movies. A lot of people don't take the time to educate themselves on political matters (they're too busy being Doctors, carpenters, etc.), and so they really aren't "intelligent consumers" of political choice. Ergo, they'd end up selecting for people on non-rational tests, such as looks or personality.

The beauty of the system we have is that most of the idiots cancel each other out by voting all over the map, and the 5% of the population who knows their head from their asshole about public choise and international relations can swing the election.

That's not to say the system we have can't be improved, but I think subscription has some flaws.