I hear the word change a lot these days. Truthfully, there does seem to be an abundance of the stuff lately. Not all of it’s good, but it’s still abundant. The question is, how much of this change is real change? How much of it is going to fundamentally change the way we live?
Todays world is run by yesterday. The people in power are of a different age. The world has moved onto a new game, and they trying play by old rules of an old game. This is true of how our government work. It’s time to upgrade to a swifter more efficient government, and social networking is the key.
Quick fact: you (fellow American) do not live in a true democracy. You live in what is called a representative democracy. You don’t vote on every issue in our government, you elect representatives to do that. One reason for this is the speed of information. While information moves at the speed of light today, it moved at the speed of horse in 1786 (when the constitution was drafted). Basically the time it would take to propose a bill, get the word out, have everyone vote on it, count the votes, let everyone know how the vote turned out, then implement the bill, would take a year or more. One every issue.
So now we have our representatives and they have to vote how we tell them. Not exactly. They can vote however the want. If they want to keep their jobs, they should probably vote with the majority of their constituents. That’s why we have polls, yet another representation of our will. So now what?
We have a unique opportunity here to use the internet to directly impact our government. I envision a government site (call it G-space) where a citizen can view the agenda for congress on any given day, view the details of a bill, and make their opinions known. They could weigh in on any and all voting to be done. G-space would be the congressional version of facebook. A twitter like feature would allow for quick, to the point updates and messaging on both sides.
Everyday I see a blog about some bill being voted on and plea to contact my representative to tell them which way to vote. A dozen times a day I log onto facebook, twitter, and email to stay in touch. Why couldn’t I devote a minute to giving a thumbs up or down to a bill? Congressional leaders would be able to access the other end of the site, and see almost real time what their constituents want. Voting history and how often they voted with or against their constituency would be available at a click. Handy during election time.
There would be no voting by the citizenry here. That would disenfranchise voters without access to the internet. For these voters though, I imagine kiosks in all federal buildings dedicated to giving G-space access to anyone with a voter registration card. Security would also prohibit the possibility of voting on G-space. The idea is to give the voting public greater access and generate greater interest into congressional workings, not participate. For that we would still need election day.
There would be problems to overcome. There would have to be a way to safeguard the system against hacking, and keeping voter ID’s secured. Voter registration numbers plus a password should make it at least as safe as online banking. Throw in validation questions and government level system security just to be safe. Not having the ability to vote is probably the best security, especially since you can just shutdown the system if it’s compromised with out impacting our right to vote.
Our most recent presidential election showed one thing very clearly. The vast majority of our leaders are clueless about the internet and it’s power. President Obama certainly understands it, but I’ll bet if you asked a Senator to twitter you’d get a dirty look. Well, they’re going to have to learn. We can do this. We can do this today if we wanted.
Why am I throwing this out to the ether? I haven’t the foggiest idea how to make this suggestion to someone interested, who would understand it. Congress would probably not care to have their records easily available to a large majority of America. I’m not certain that they would understand the opportunity we have here. They’re not big fans of change. If you like the idea, spread the word. If not, share it with a friend for discussion.