Implementing campaign finance laws will help improve the system, but they alone won’t fix it. Campaign finance reform will help reduce the supply of money, but it won’t address the demand. As long as money can be used to get votes and whoever wins 50% + 1 vote gets the prize while the loser nothing, there will be a great demand for money.

My campaign finance proposal will help reduce the influence of money, but on its own, it won’t reduce the demand. Politicians should be focusing on serving their constituents rather than continuously fundraising. The following video by John Oliver has language which reminds me of my Navy days and is not entirely appropriate for a political website, but he captures the problem far better than I can hope to do.

What is clear to me is that we need to end the winner-take-all mentality of politics. As long as this toxic, hyper-aggressive environment exists, each and every election will be an ugly fight to the death fueled by money and deceit. It is great theater, but produces poor policies.

To end the theater and expand representation, the second place candidate and more specifically their voters, should be heard. For reasons dealing with Game Theory, I would make that the top three. Before I get to the proposal, here is what it would do.

Here are the Benefits of my proposal.

  • Eliminate the effect of gerrymandering
    • The federal government can’t directly ban gerrymandering – States rights
  • Vastly reduce the demand for donations
  • Increase minimum percentage of voter with a representative they voted for in office from the current 50% to over 75%
    • In a typical district this real representation will be above 90%
  • Greatly reduce the benefit of negative campaigning
  • Give 3rd parties a voice in DC
  • Reduce partisanship
  • Produce near proportional minority representation

I know if sounds like a huge wish list, but this is the power of Game Theory. The win goes 100% to John Nash aka “A Beautiful Mind” Nash, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, and Alastair Smith. I just happened to read their work and have applied it to the problem of politics. The win though is theirs…

The Proposal:

Step 1:

  • Have not one, but three House of Representatives and Senates.
    • The top vote earner would go to DC (richest US metro)
    • Second top earner would go to a legislative body stood up in the poorest Metro in the US (moves every decade or so)
    • Third top earner would attend an online legislative body
  • This would come into effect on a district by district basis once the incumbent for a given position is defeated.
  • The incumbent would keep their previous salary for as long as they serve in any of the three legislative bodies.
  • These last two points will make voting for this a no lose proposal for current lawmakers while giving them a benefit. It is a must.

How this would help:

  • The risk of losing an election wouldn’t be so severe as an incumbent in the DC House or Senate is quite unlikely to slip to fourth place without a major scandal.
    • Therefore the need of money is reduced as coming in 2nd place isn’t that bad.
  • Gerrymandering won’t matter as far more people in each district have someone they voted for in congress.
  • Minor parties will finally have representation.
  • Minorities will also likely gain nearly proportional representation.
    • When people feel that the culture that they reside in is against them, there is a tendency to block vote.
    • This block voting tendency will virtually guarantee that in a district with more than 10% of the population being of one minority group, that one of the representatives will be from that minority group.

Step 2:

  • Have the vote of a congress person split by the total number of votes they received divided by total number of eligible voters.
  • Bills would still need over 50% of the total representatives of all three houses, votes to pass.
  • 60% for the Senate (no change)
  • Lets look at an example imaginary district to help explain this. The district has:
    • 100,000 eligible voters
    • 80,000 registered voters
    • 40,000 citizens voted
    • Candidate 1 earned 18,000 votes
    • Candidate 2 earned 16,000 votes
    • Candidate 3 earned 5,000 votes
    • 97.5% of the voters have a politician they voted for representing them
    • Candidate 1 has 18k/100k of a vote in congress
    • Candidate 2 has 16k/100k of a vote in congress
    • Candidate 3 has 5k/100k of a vote in congress

How this would help:

  • The easiest way for a politician to increase their power is to increase voter turnout rather than discourage people from voting for their opponent.
  • This fundamentally changes politics. The incentive isn’t to cost your opponents votes, but rather to garner votes yourself.

Step 3:

  • Fix the pay of the top vote earners to 3x the median household income.
  • For the second top vote earner, go with 2.5x.
    • They still need a secondary residence, but it is in the poorest metro, so their disposable income would be similar.
  • For the third top vote earner, go with 2x as they won’t need an additional residence.

How this will help:

  • In 2018 the median US household income was $61,937.
    • a 3x multiplier will results in a small raise from $174,000 to $185,811
    • 2.5x – $154,842
    • 2x – $123,874
  • This ensures that a politician’s financial well being is tied to that of the financial well being of the most common household. If they want a raise, all they have to do is give us a raise. Sounds fair.

Step 4:

  • Allow every representative to submit one bill per year without going through committee.
  • If the bill gains at least 33% of the total votes from the top three parties, the representative gets an additional bill which can bypass committee.

How this will help:

  • Junior representatives need wins to show their voters the work they have been doing.
  • The common sense legislation is getting placed behind ideological bills which will never get passed.
  • This will allow representatives to either show their ideological purity or pass several useful pieces of legislation.

Step 5:

  • In addition to writing and voting on bills.
    • Have the DC based legislatures focus on investigations and appointments.
    • Have the second legislative body focus on constituent services.
    • Have the third body focus on bills which didn’t go through committees.

How this will help:

  • The DC based body can focus more closely on maintaining a balance of power with the executive branch and ensure that their laws are fully implemented as written.
  • The second top vote earning politicians will be serving those primarily with an opposing political viewpoint. This will slowly help heal the political divide.
  • The third body will get to vet a menagerie of ideas via a floor vote
    • These are the bills which didn’t go through committee.
    • If the third body approves them, they will get a floor vote via the secondary without going to committee.
    • If the secondary body approves them, they get a floor vote on the primary body.
    • This body is the minority body be it political, racial, religious, ethnic… Passing this body will ensure that a bill has all of these communities best interests at heart.

For those of you which have reached the bottom, this will take a constitutional amendment. I know, my daughter makes the same face…

To make this passable, I would grandfather in incumbents’ districts so that the proposal wouldn’t hurt those who would have to vote for it. It would also provide some benefit to the incumbents by providing reducing the risk of them losing their job if they came in second during an election.  With no cost and a measurable reward to those who would have to vote for it, the challenge wouldn’t be with me to get it passed, but with those who might try to prevent its passing.

13 Replies to “Real Representation”

  1. Well, you got my attention. Some of your suggestions on goals to change the federal government appear worthwhile.
    If you are courageous enough to enter into a discussion with a senior citizen who is a former engineer, office holder, and Air Force veteran,
    contact me. I don’t know where you live, but we can meet at some safe place that is convenient for both of us.

    Cheers

  2. Tl;Dr needs to be 5 sentences max. Bullet points only. If your idea can’t be compressed as such then it’s probably not a good idea.

    1. I don’t disagree with you on that. I may need to have the skim milk version and a full fat version for policy geeks. Thanks for the feedback.

      1. I disagree with him. Maybe I am a policy geek, but who’s this for anyway? Policy geeks (no credentials needed.) Elsewhere you hint that you have ideas. Here you explain one, in a fairly digestible form. This is too big a construct to explain in significantly fewer words, and there’s still a lot left to the imagination. (Would a bill have to pass 6 different houses in sequence? Would deliberations happen in parallel, each house ignoring comments from the floors of the alternate houses? And then there’s the somewhat imponderable atmosphere in a nation-wide runner-up house.)

        1. I have a flow chart which would likely help… It is clear that I need help in communicating systems without delving into math or diagrams. In short, a bill would need to get 50% of the vote to pass be it in one house or three. It is clear that this would increase the number of people in the loop from 435 to 1305, but 435 is already unmanageable for a group discussion. Adding 870 more doesn’t really change that. As for the “runner up” house, it positions people better to win the next election. If someone had a choice to lose or represent the people who voted for them, I think they would be fine with the #2 spot. The #3 spot is even more interesting house and the one I would actually enjoy serving in. It would be filled with the third parties and minority politicians. My belief is that in most cases the #1 spot would go to the dominate party, the #2 spot to the secondary party and the #3 spot to a candidate from the largest non-majority minority. That one would be the true oven of democracy and a blast to serve in.

  3. This is an interesting proposal. You may not make it to DC, but maybe you could tailor this to local politics. Set up a petition to change how we do things statewide and get it on the ballot. I’d definitely sign it. Good luck!

  4. Hi, I am a voter and I think your ideas are really ambitious and I’m glad someone is finally fighting for getting money out of politics as the basis of their campaign. However, I think that overhauling the entire legislative branch is a little bit far fetched and complicated. Have you heard of http://www.represent.us? I think the anti-corruption act and the strategy in place to pass it are much more realistic and less complicated than trying to overhaul an entire branch of government. I hope to hear about you in the future fighting for the anti-corruption act, in which case you would have my vote.

    1. I have heard of represent.us and I agree with their goals as they are my goals. I also agree that my overhaul is a bit ambitious, but I have a path to getting that passed and it will accomplish our mutual goals in a robust way. I’m an engineer and fixing a big problem is the coolest thing in the world to my kind. (geeks) I really love by life doing AI and being a Dad. I wouldn’t be willing to impact that life if I didn’t think I had a real shot at fixing the system for my kids… and everyone else as well, but primarily for my kids.

  5. I like your ideas on voting quite a bit. I understand your focus is on revolutionizing representation, but what are your views on civil rights? Can I trust you to vote so that the liberties of myself and those like me are ensured or upheld?

    1. The best assurance is in returning to you the power to ensure them yourself. This is why I’m running. I don’t want to be in charge of anyone. My views on civil rights are pretty simple, it is the paramount duty of the government to protect your rights to do whatever you want as long as you aren’t hurting someone else. To me the best way to do this is to empower people, hence my drive to democratize democracy.

  6. Senior Citizen here – I like your ideas, still need to go back and digest the details, but I question: how – given the enormous complexity of this proposal – would you educate the voting public to support it, much less participate?

    1. Mary,
      Those who decide if a bill passes or fails are the individual politicians who vote for it. If we assume that the politicians are logical and for the moment also assume that they are all mustachio twirling villains, (which they all aren’t) they will vote with their own best interests in mind. If so, my proposals will change nothing for them until they lose an election. At that point, they will almost certainly continue on as a representative, but instead of all voters in their district, they will just represent those who voted for them. This is a great safety net as they get to keep their job, and it costs them nothing. Getting a politician to vote for job security is like getting my four year old to agree to eating ice cream… Very easy.
      Also, if you have a flair for elections and the voters are kind to me on August 4th, I would appreciate help in communicating the ideas. Thank you
      -Rick

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