Direct Democracy is Not what PeopleCount Creates

America has a system of representative democracy. But it’s broken. It’s no longer either representative or democratic. PeopleCount proposes to fix it, not to go to a system of direct democracy.

In conversations, I often paint a picture of how PeopleCount will help us get Congress to pass popular legislation. Many people’s minds contains a devil’s advocate. It often pipes up, “I don’t really want a direct democracy.” Great- PeopleCount does not create one.

I don’t want to vote on actual laws, which is what a direct democracy proposes

A “direct democracy” is one where citizens vote on laws. Personally, I don’t want that. Even before I invented PeopleCount I was too busy to study the details of laws.

The work of crafting laws happens in committees. Members of Congress and their staffs work through pros and cons and issues and solutions putting together something they believe can work. They look for the most benefit and the least disadvantage and cost. But sometimes, a committee comes up with very partisan, or biased, laws.

The bulk of the work of approving laws is understanding the trade-offs. For instance, free trade is usually a good thing. But the TPP proposes copyright laws that are overly corporate-friendly. And it was created in secret, so the discussions about trade-offs are all hidden. And it’s 6,000 pages long! We need representatives who can, with their staffs, handle this kind of analysis. In this case, we need a Congress that can be a check and balance to an administration which did a poor job of putting together this agreement.

Example: Is pass a term limit amendment a priority?

I just finished a 3-article series about the issue of term limits. Surveys said in 2013 that 75% of America wanted term limits. That should be a no-brainer to pass, right?

97% of Americans want to end government corruption. And 80-90% of Americans disapprove of Congress. This is the overriding issue. If any issue appears to help end corruption, Americans will want it. But that doesn’t tell us whether they’ll want all of them, nor what the priority should be.

Congress might, rightfully, resist a term limit amendment

If America voted on Term Limits on PeopleCount, I expect most representatives would report back that their priority will be to end the corrupting conflicts of interest in Congress around lobbying and the “revolving door” where members of Congress and their senior staff members are rewarded with lucrative jobs by lobbying firms. The big problem is that money buys legislation and wins elections. Term limits just limits a member of Congress to only 12 years of corruption- that’s not good enough.

They might also report back that they’re willing to support individual states voting to limit their own representative’s and senators’ terms or remove such limits. This would allow some states to try this, plus make it easier to undo such a change.

In the next article, we’ll look at another example about climate change.


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