07 April 2011

The Idea – A Call for a USA National Referendum to the US Constitution

For many years, I've watched a transformation of the government of the United States of America moving further and further from the founding principles of a representative form of government. Today, I am officially formulating an idea I believe can serve to restore the public trust in the US government and capitalize on the the technology of today to realize the full vision of the founding fathers of the United States of America.

I call upon all Americans to review the idea and provide comments and feedback – the forum, threads, and topics will be moderated. Please post nothing you wouldn't be proud to have posted on the refrigerator at your grandparents homes. Please be civil and thoughtful. Please be creative and idealistic. The time for cynicism has passed. We've watched nations of citizens an ocean away stand up and demand more from their government. The time has come to put partisanship aside, the interests of corporate America at the bottom, and restore the public faith in government. This is just but one possible solution that may or may not have merit depending on the ideas and ideals of the people. We do not need a revolution in our nation, what we need is to utilize our technology to re-empower the people.

Here goes...

It's called the Natiional Referndum Ammendment to the US Constitution. When our nation was created, the founding fathers wanted this to be a government by, of, and for the people. Nowhere in the Constitution did they mention corporations or companies or the rights thereof (hence the odd decision by the Supreme Court to allow them to donate freely and unchecked to political campaigns, but I digress). They were faced with a challenge, a nation of 13 states spreading from Georgia to New England -- a massive distance for information to travel in those days which predated even the telegraph. So, they conceived a Congress made up fo locally elected people (the Representatives) and the state-wide elected people (the Senators) who would represent their constituents in national decisions. When the nation was far smaller, these people had time to get to know their constituents and their constituents had time to get to know them. There also were no defined political parties.

This is 2011. We not only have fantastic forms of communication from Facebook® to Twitter® to cell phones and television. There is no longer any earthly reason why we should not or could not be utilizing this ability to telecommunicate to hold monthly national referendums and keep our government in check. It's the one check and balance that's missing from the Constitution because there was no way to orchestrate it.

My proposal is to two fold:

1) To seek to pass a USA National Referendum to the Constitution of the United States that transitions the power of the government back to the people.

and how to do this

2) Create a secure online system via state governments that would create a Facebook®-like page for every registered voter where he/she would be able to see, read comments, and then vote on national issues.

Clarifications and Explanations:
[click links to read each section and comment]

• Creation of the Secure System
Creation of the Voting Accounts
Implementation and 24-Month Trial Period
Comment Sections for Vote Threads
What Issues Would Go to National Referendum?
Post Trial Period

The time has come to put the power of our nation back into the hands of the people. This is true democracy. This is what the founders intended. They did not intend for large chain stores in Minnesota to be able to determine the outcome of elections and therefore issues. They did not intend for Congresspersons to be beholden to campaign contributors. Lastly, they did not intend for Congressperson to be so out of touch with their constitutents nor for their constituents to be so out of touch with their government creating one disillusioned, appathetic, cynical generation after the next.

USA National Referndum – Creation of the System

The founding fathers wanted the voters educated and to participate in their government. They lacked the technology to make it as truly representative as possible. I'll bet that given three weeks, California Whiz Kid and Company could create this secure site and have it up an running in no time.


USA National Referndum – Creation of Accounts

These would be created at the DMV with amendments to the motor-voter laws which exist in most states. It would require no additional equipment than a dedicated secure workstation at each DMV with Internet access. The DMV already has to verify (a) residency, (b) citizenship, and (c) age when issuing a drivers license. Therefore, this would be the ideal location to place the secure voter registration set-up process. Existing license holders would need to go to their DMV to complete their voter registration. At the DMV, their individual account / page would be created and their dual passwords entered. This would greatly reduce the possibility for the creation of fraudulent accounts and violations to the integrity of the system.


USA National Referndum – Implementation and 24-Month Trial Period

As citizens join the rolls, when they log in to their account, the system would automatically populate their pages with information all about their representatives in the national Congress. Congress, in the meantime, would begin to populate the site with issues on which the registered citizens could vote. Votes would then be instantly collated by district, state, and national for an immediate, play-by-play picture of the pulse of America. Congresspersons would have access to the same data to use in casting their votes. Likewise, the totals would be available by state for the Senators, and they would be accumulated as a national hybrid so the President, Vice-President, Speaker of the House, and Senate Majority Leaders could gauge the national pulse. When the issue was then set to be voted upon in the Senate or House, the vote of the Congressperson would be recorded by the system and placed on the permanent page so that each constituent could log in and see how his or her Representatives and Senators voted along with a brief explanation if the vote differed format he will of the people. At which point, people would have the ability to select (Facebook® style) "like" or "dislike" to provide feedback to their Congressperson as to his vote. This would give them a lot of information when it comes to the next round of elections. Most people never even know how their Congresspersons vote on issues and in these times of high bipartisanship, Congress people fear voting across partly lines when maybe their particular constituents are in favor or against issues if only they had a quick and easy way of knowing.


USA National Referendum – Comment Sections for Vote Threads

Both to prevent fraud and to promote discussion, each constituent would be allowed one comment per vote and one vote per issue. Choosing words wisely and reading other comments before posting would therefore be essential. These comments would be attributed to the citizens first name and Congressional District only. Up and Down votes on comments would automatically cause a promotion of comments to the state thread and national thread, and all Congresspeople would have access to read any and all comments as would all citizens.

Congresspersons would be able to post their own thinking on the issue in a comment box directly below issues for their constitutents to read and react. Likewise, Congresspersons would be able to send messages directly to people who commented on issues asking for clarification and data.


USA National Referendum – What Issues Go National?

During the trial period, any and all issues would be set before the people. Post the trial period, there would be two categories of issues: Binding and Non-Binding Votes. Either Houses of Congress would have the ability to send issues to the National Referendum by a simple majority vote for either binding or non-binding. Non-binding votes would provide guidance for Congresspersons and binding votes would establish the will of the people. In non-binding, the Congresspersons would not be bound to vote with his or her constituents; but, of course, the system would reveal this and his or her comments as to why he our she voted against the will of the the constituents published for all to see. It could simply be there was national security information used that could not be made publich which is a perfectly acceptable reason. In binding votes, the Congresspersons would be bound to vote with the will of the district. There are still many pre-existing checks and balances. If an issue (bill or law) were passed in the Senate and House and sent to the President, he or she would still have to sign it into law. The Supreme Court could still rule the law unconstitutional. Nowhere in this system is there any attempt to divert any power out of the checks and balances of the system in place. The only difference is to afford citizens an actual role in self-determination and Congresspersons with more and better information as to the positions of people in their districts. Automatic voter thresholds could be established such that no vote of the people would be binding if fewer than 50% of the registered voters in a district vote leaving the decision up to the Congressperson.


USA National Referndum – Post Trial Period

After 24 months of service and testing, the system would evolve to one of true National Referendums where monthly issues would be placed on National Referendum Ballots with votes being tabulated over a span of seven days with binding national results. In other words, certain issues would turned over to the people and left to their will to vote with subsequent votes on the measures in question in Congress being binding. For example, results would be read into the House and Senate that the will of the people of the Great State of XYZ is "Yes" or "No" on Issue 172-22 – The Vote for the USA to Join NATO Forces in Libya.