Foy Savas from FreeGovernment.com responds to my skeptical post from yesterday on his group's attempt to elect a congressperson who is "no more than proxy for our district by voting on bills only as do online verified voters":
I get the feeling you think we're going for direct democracy. If you read through the FAQs on the site you will learn otherwise.
Ha, you're completely right about people not ever going to spend enough time to research bills, but honestly we've actually designed FreeGov for citizens not to have to do that, as they can opt to select advisers.
The adviser concept we use on the site, mimics representative government with a few major benefits: 1) real-time accountability, 2) personal representation, 3) the opportunity to choose multiple advisers, and 4) the ability to override how they vote whenever you want.
You seem like a guy keen on following politics, so I hope that despite your initial criticism, you now better understand what FreeGov is actually going for. No, it's not town-meetings or direct democracy, but instead the idea of citizens being able to participate at any time in a convenient way.
I am keen to learn what FreeGovernment is all about, but I'm still confused. The FAQs page on the group's national website says the following:
If a candidate gets into office, how will their votes in Congress be decided?
Each candidate we choose to endorse will sign a contract with us vowing only to vote in Congress as do their constituents on the site, that is, as do the majority of votes from constituents when enough votes have been cast.
That still sounds like an attempt to take away a US Representative's perogative to substitute his or her greater knowledge of a particular bill for the knee-jerk reaction of a majority of his or her constituents. Savas points out that a constituent can delegate his or her voting responsibility to "advisers" -- who are not actually elected by anybody but who would still have the power, as a group, to dictate how a US Representative votes in Congress. In that case, maybe the analogy to Town Meeting isn't perfect. Now it sounds as if FreeGovernment wants party-machine politics, in which unelected FreeGovernment bigwigs completely control the people they install in Congress. (My prediction is that most constituents who did not vote for the FreeGovernment candidate would not participate in online polls, but instead work toward defeating the "proxy" in the next election.)
I like the idea of making US Representatives more accountable to constituents and applaud FreeGovenment's attempts to run candidates against incumbents who would otherwise be unopposed, but I still don't get how the proxy contract would work.