The Politic

By on January 7, 2004

The Internet has factored into politics more this year than ever before, with Democratic presidential candidates like Howard Dean and Wesley Clark relying on it for most of their support.

But what if a candidate came along that took the Internet further than just raising support? What if a candidate was willing to turn his voting powers over to his constituents via the web?



  1. Interesting idea, but I would hope that a person elected to office would be engaged in more research and discussion on a topic than would the average citizen (most of whom don’t take the time to vote in the first place) and so should be more qualified to make an informed, thoughtful decision than the great unwashed masses. Of course, I realize that in reality a significant number of our elected representatives are letting lobbyist tell them how to vote today, but I’m not sure it would be any better having Joe Lunchbox who doesn’t watch the news or read Newsweek tell him how to vote either.

  2. I completely agree that people that don’t watch the news or vote would not make very informed decisions, but I don’t think that those folks are very likely to register and vote online either. And you’d still want the politician to do his research, but rather than just voting based on his findings, he could report them back to his constituents to discuss things with them.

    An interesting side effect would likely be that the news media would hold more power in swinging the vote on measures that are receiving public attention. Even if the candidate felt that a bill should pass based on in-depth research, his constituents may still want him to vote it down because Fox News is hyping up stories on the negative effects of the measure, glossing over the deeper issues.

  3. This goes back to the age-old debate (for political science geeks, anyway) of whether a politician is just a blind representative of the people, or whether he or she should exercise their judgement. The latter theory meaing that we elect them because we think they’re smart and we want them to exercise their smarts in office.

    Taking your plan to an absurd conclusion, why do we need reps at all? Why couldn’t we just have a big Web site were all the citizens voted on everything directly? This would have never been possible before the Internet, but it’s a distinct possibility now.

    The United States is not a pure democracy, it’s a representative democracy where the citizens are one step removed from the process. That step — the politicians we elect — are supposed to be elected because we the people have deemed that their ideals are in line enough with ours that there judgement is roughly the same as ours. Then they can go off and exercise that judgement.

    You’re talking about moving from a representative democracy to a pure democracy where the politicians are just puppets of the people. Is this a good idea? Yeah, maybe. We’re certainly getting to a point where it’s possible from a practical perspective.

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