I sent the following email to a fundraising organization this morning, seeking their cooperation in this effort.
I do not believe that Congress represents the people. We elect representatives, so that they will represent our opinions. But the influence of big powerful lobbyists co-opts our power, and they are the ones who are represented instead.
In the current representative system of government, our opinions are voiced not about single issues but about someone we can only hope will represent our views on those issues. Your single vote disappears into a box or a computer system, which is then counted in secret somewhere. No one knows who voted for whom, the polling results are simply delivered to us under circumstances in which we must have faith that there was no corruption, significant errors, or breakdowns the whole system. We only get one shot at this every two years or every four, and whatever issues get on the table are determined by legislative committees whose processes are largely hidden from the public eye. Our representatives and senators are under no contract with those whom they purport to represent to actually represent them, and the general mood in Congress is to favor self-enrichment through corporate favors and promises, all directed toward the diminished wealth and liberties of the common citizen and the enhancement of privilege and wealth among the corporate elite.
The public has no means at its disposal to remedy this. But I believe that there is a means by which public opinion can have weight, a system in which the people could potentially themselves vote for and against laws, creating a shadow legislature which upstages Congress and puts it to shame, in which the true character of the American public establishes and outlines its mission and values.
We need direct representation of public opinion, an ongoing, live system that instantaneously reflects it..
We need a website that asks people to register. This would target virtually every single citizen in the country over 18. The website would be used as a database for the initial rudimentary developmental foundation for direct democracy. It could not be converted into a legal function of the legislature, however, without massive representation and involvement of the American public and the leverage they could exert. So we have to move in that direction one step at a time.
The website would be much like a survey, in which it would ask opinions about every issue that concerns us as voters, but this would not be just a poll. This would be a permanent register of opinions through membership accounts, which each member can access at any time, and change his mind or contribute additionally to new issues as they come up. The collective data on opinions for and against specific positions on issues would be readily available in a graphic display to anyone who went to the website.
A People’s Lobby would be the initial aim, a kind of “Occupy Congress,” if you will, with a completely horizontal power structure. We would combine our collective voice and economic strength to become the largest voting block in America to overpower other influences on Congress. This is a live vote system in which the vote would remain perpetually public. There would be no static single event or referendum, like a vote for a Congressman. Rather it would have a fluid ongoing life and existence much like a thermometer sitting outside your window, that tells you every day, hour by hour, whenever you inquire, what the temperature is.
How does the public feel about single payer not for profit universal health insurance? How does the public feel about Israel, about threats in the Middle East? How does it feel about rendition and Guantanamo? How does it feel about fracking, about pipelines? We would each be able to monitor our own votes so that any attempt at hacking or changing the vote would immediately be detected. Any massive shifts in how the vote stands could not take place without immediate detection and tracked to the source.
An account would be set up so that donations could be accepted, recorded and made refundable at any time a member wishes to withdraw, like a savings account. All donors would become members by registering and making a donation. All donations would be deposited into a trust account and no portion of it could be spent.
I believe it would in effect act as an LLC, and may be registered as such, in which members each get a share for their donation, but no more than a single share, regardless of how much they donate, because no one can have more than one voice — their own voice. That account would then become the economic power of this organization and it would be spent according to popular agreement on how it should be spent, with all members voting. Those who disagreed could simply withdraw their money.
Administrative expenses would have to be agreed upon, once there was sufficient capital available to pay for it. The money could be held in an interest-bearing account, and the interest itself used to pay for administrative expenses.