(Note: the above clip is an embed code from Cspan — which of course, being Cspan, doesn’t actually embed.)
Okay, I didn’t choose the above clip to discuss the Affordable Care Act. Forget about that now. I chose it for just one thing — the Star Wars reference.
I started today’s blog with a thought earlier today, and for that thought, I wanted to illustrate it with a shot of the Republic Senate from Star Wars movies episodes I and II. But it took me awhile to find anything I could use. Ted Cruz, on the other hand, came up really fast.
But I did eventually find a picture of the Senate Chamber, so here it is:
So, why did I want a video of the Senate chamber? See all that space, all those people, all the procedure going on. The procedure is intended to smooth the wheels of governance, but often is seen, as it is shown elsewhere in the Star Wars movies, as a way to create gridlock, and leave actual governance to the bureacracy and the executive power.
My thought, earlier today, was about all the ideas I have entertained for improving our government, and the ones I most centered on were related to Congress. I have heard, and would like to present for consideration, some “revolutionary” ideas about how to revamp Congress, and perhaps get it back to being the “representatives of the people” that it was intended.
In the Star Wars example, A whole bunch of systems had representatives in a Senate that was so far away and each one had so little influence, that the procedures of the Senate itself and the bureacracy that supported it effectively usurped the power from the representatives. My first proposal will seem like an effort to only make this matter worse in our system.
We have 435 Congressional representatives. I propose expanding that number. The constitution requires each representative to represent at least 30,000 people. For a country of 300 million that would be 10,000 people in the Congress. I propose expanding congress to 10,000 representatives.
This would mean that each one of us would have greater access to a representative that we would elect. It would also require a stadium for them to assemble them all in the same room. But why do they need to assemble in the same room? One of the greatest problems of our government today is that they assemble in a place that is far away from us, where they are closer to lobbyists than they are to the people they represent.
My second proposal is that we turn congress into a virtual assembly. Each person elected to the House of Representatives would get furnish a secure internet connection to a virtual house of representatives. Each one would live and do their work in their home district. They would represent each of us from the district, and live and shop in the district.
Imagine what a problem this would be for lobbyists. Their targets are no longer centered in one spot. They have to chase them all over the place. Just think of the benefit to the people. Our representative is right here, living and breathing with us.
My next proposal has to do with pay. Each representative’s pay would be the mean income of the district from which they have been elected, as calculated from the appropriate government statistics bureau. No getting rich off the government, but true representationalism.
Trying to run anything with 10,000 representatives would require coordination. there would still be committees, there would still need to be bureacracy. But this resolves one of the problems of our hypothetical Star Wars problem. We cannot get rid of committees, we cannot get rid of some bureacracy. But we do have the potential to keep our representatives close to the people, and keep them out of concentrated areas of power. Diffusion and representation are possible, now more than ever, by good use of technology.
For the Senate, I would disperse them as well. I would also propose that we repeal the 17th amendment — let the State Legislatures elect the senators again. Bring back power to the States and restore balance between them and the federal government. Let the Senators be dispersed to the State Capitals, and let their pay be equal to that of a State Senator or appropriate officer of the state they represent.
For the younger generation, used to these technologies, this may seem a no-brainer. Virtual isn’t much different than face-to-face for many today. For people from older generations, it may seem precarious handing all this over to a dependence on these technologies. But we have been dependent for a long time. campaigns are done on twitter and other social media anymore. These open technologies allow people to get around any gatekeepers who want to suppress various views.
So I caution, people who show concern about these technologies, are probably people who want to limit people’s access, who want to control what people can know and think. Who want to control who gets elected, and control elections.
Which, in my mind, at least, leads to my next proposal, about the Census. The only people to be counted by the US Census are those who are actually counted. No estimates about the people that we know are there but couldn’t find. This point leads to whole ideas about polls, and voter identification — but that is another topic. for another blog.