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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

In The Internet Age, Do We Need Representative Government? Is Congress Out of Date?

Don't people already vote electronically?
Brandon Pierce

From when we are small children in Social Studies class, we are conditioned to understand the system of government that oversees the spending of our paychecks, the creation and enforcement of our laws, and the actions that the military takes on our behalf. Representation is the concept behind it that is touted as the greatest sign of a democratic and free society. You know the old war cries. Taxation without Representation! Well, our system of government works on a system of representation.

How many of us think about what that word really means? Your representatives, both in the House of Representatives (aptly and uncreatively named) and the Senate, are supposed to stand in your stead. Basically, they are supposed to speak in the system of government on your behalf. Through the voting system we have, you and other constituents decide who your representative will be. From there, the concept is that said representative will make decisions that mirror the will of the people who they are representing. Of course, fears of losing their job supposedly drive them to stay in line with the will of those that put them in office.

When the United States became a nation in 1776, this system of government was the fairest and most efficient that anyone could hope for. After all, not everyone could convene at the Capitol and vote for themselves. To make the system work, representation was the only way.

In 2013, does this still hold true? Do we still need representation when the technology easily exists to represent ourselves effectively?

The Internet provides everything our society needs to allow every issue out there to be voted on in a national referendum. It would cost essentially nothing to do so. Think about how commonplace it is to have an email address. It’s that easy. Why in this day and age can we the people not simply speak for ourselves?

There are several reasons. First, the dumb reasons that people give all of the time:

  1. Oh, you wouldn’t want those people making decisions like this. You know you’ve heard this one before. And you may have even thought it yourself. Who says stuff like this? Well, most everyone. Rich people shudder at the thoughts of poor people in the projects being able to have equal say in matters of such great importance. Then, there’s all sorts of issues from there. Those that harbor racist tendencies probably think the opposite race (in the case of black or white) or other nationalities don’t deserve or have sense enough to represent themselves in this fashion. Democrats don’t think Republicans should be able to choose, and Republicans don’t think Democrats should have equal say. Having a representative that leans one way or the other is fine with them. Making it fair would do just that. People that use this excuse mean one thing: they have reasons why they don’t want other parties to be able to have equal say. End of story.
  2. Oh, but the system we have now is working just fine. Once again, this is one you will hear. Incidentally, the party making this blanket statement is usually on the side of whichever political party is currently in power. The problem with the representation system is that money and lobbyists have challenged the purity of our government. It used to be that representatives had a duty to try to conduct business in accordance with the people who voted for them. In today’s government, the real system of “checks and balances” is the one that revolves around who gave the most money and what was promised to them to get it. A government where people represent themselves would not be as corruptible, as no one person could be that tempted to break rank for a reward because one vote by any one person would never really count that much. Now, the vote of a representative in Congress is HUGE. The vote of one person anywhere in America at any given time would not be that huge, ending the ability for organizations to “buy” votes.
  3. Instituting such a system would be too difficult. Yes, it would be so difficult to organize a system where every American that has, I don’t know, a Social Security Number, could have one vote in all matters. Acting like it would be so hard to institute is silly when we all know how hard the government has worked to keep tabs on each and every one of us anyway. And how many people out there don’t have access to the Internet in some capacity? Yes there are people that don’t have computers, Internet access, etc. But if we can set up polling stations for presidential elections to let every person in America walk in and fill out a bubble with a pencil, surely we could make sure there were public places (a Post Office maybe?) where people without normal access could still vote if they saw fit to do so. Honestly, instituting a system such as this would probably be the easiest government project of all time.
  4. Voter fraud would be through the roof. Why? In a system where one vote counts as one vote, voter fraud would be mostly irrelevant. Think about it. Voter fraud is a big problem in the current system, but that’s because, once again, the Electoral College in Presidential elections requires entire states to go one way or the other. A system of government where each resident had one vote in all matters cast electronically would mean that voter fraud would be mostly a waste of time. There would be no need for campaigns, promises, or any of the things that are a hallmark of the current political system. Each person would vote the way they felt, and to go to any trouble to fraudulently cast one vote would not be worth the effort. Ironically, making every person’s vote counts actually discounts the value of each vote in the long run.
  5. What if hackers hacked in and manipulated the system? Yes, this may seem like a legitimate concern, but consider the fact that Presidential elections are now electronically counted in many locations in the nation already. If the threat of hackers isn’t enough of a threat when choosing the leader of said government, then it shouldn’t be any more of a threat when voting on individual issues. Besides, money saved on wasted representative operations could be invested into beefing up defenses against hacking. Besides, if a hacking attack caused a vote to go overwhelmingly one way or the other, wouldn’t it be pretty easy to see that something had happened? There’s no way a hacker could inch it just over the line and pull the wool over everyone’s eyes. They would have to go big or go home. This is just another excuse that people give to back up their own beliefs that the current system is functional and why change it?
That list could have been much longer, but you have to stop somewhere. In any case, you get the point. There are plenty of reasons people give why a true government for the people and by the people would not work, but it you take a closer look at the facts and their real intentions, you will find that most of these supposedly damning obstacles simply don’t hold water.

Now, for the list of real reasons why this could never happen in our society.

Are you ready? It’s not nearly as long as the list above.

  1. Our system of government will protect its own interests. In fact, it has become an entity unto itself. It no longer functions as a representation of the American people and its interests; it functions as a system that will stop at nothing to protect its own welfare. The government system would never step aside and allow government for the people by the people because that would obviously undermine its own welfare and its own agenda. The government as it stands today exists as a shell of “representation” that is designed to keep the American people organized as sheep so that they do not attempt to rise up and overthrow the government that is in place. By creating social issues and keeping up the guise that there are two political parties, two sides to every story, Americans spend more time fighting each other about issues they view as important, while the government cares little for such things, as it is working together as a machine to lead us toward one destination, one agenda.
Well, that’s about all then. So, in closing, what am I trying to say here? Put simply, sometimes it is what it is. The government we have doesn’t have to exist for any practical reason. This technological age has brought inventions that could allow us to actually function as a self-governing society in a truly new concept that would change the world forever. There has never been a society like that, and it would really be the moment at which the human experience went to a transcendent new level. However, the existing government has every reason to want to make sure that such realities never exist.

A lot of atheists out there frequently say that religion is holding the human race back. That, until we get over this hurdle, not much more can be achieved. Whether you agree with that stance or not, the same could be said about the current system of government. It is outdated and no longer efficient.

It is also here to stay.

This article first appeared at Common Sense Conspiracy.

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