Positive Proxy

Proxy elections have been in use by corporations for centuries. As a corporation exists to centralize and control power, those corporate proxies are typically only allowed to the sitting Board of Directors, and typically only for the full duration of the annual Stockholder’s meeting, the only time at which a stockholder has a right to be heard.

Our own intentions are to distribute power and control as widely and evenly as possible, so we don’t want to run our governance exactly like corporations do. But the mechanism of proxy elections is a very good delegatory tool, and if we allow delegation to anyone of the voter’s choice, and make it revocable and regrantable at any time for any reason or none, we can allow each voter to choose whom is to represent them and give control over that relationship to the voter, rather than the polity.

We need representation for two reasons. The traditional one is that trying to implement direct democracy in “super-Dunbar” groups simply creates noisy chaos. (The Dunbar number is the number of people one can know and interact with personally and directly, it’s typically about 150 for humans, or 100 if you’re a chimp. “Super-Dunbar” just means “more than that.”) Since we have the internet now, we have the capacity to do all this silently, and by using multiple moderators and other tricks it is possible to keep somewhat larger groups running in an orderly fashion. It still falls apart before we can add another digit to the dunbar number.

The second reason is that doing the job of Citizen became impossible about two centuries ago, and the pretense that we’re still doing it is maintained by groups whose interests are served by us doing so poorly, incompetently, and incompletely. In correspondence between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson in the late 18-teens, Adams said to Jefferson “While I still feel myself to be at the heights of my powers, I no longer feel competent to exercise the duties of being a citizen. The job has grown too large and too complex.” Jefferson being Jefferson, he took about five pages to respond what I can with reasonable accuracy summarize as “Yeah, me too.” The job has had two centuries since to further metastasize; if someone as well-educated as Adams or as brilliant as Jefferson couldn’t do the job *then*, I sure as hell can’t do it now.

And just me isn’t good enough. The country now is a hundred times as big as it was then, so if we systematically searched through everybody we might find a few hundred people who fit those descriptions. But by the same token, we’re now a country of 340 million. We need 340 million people doing this job, not three or four hundred.

So, we delegate. We do what we personally are capable of doing, and we delegate the rest to someone whom we judge to be able to do a better job on the rest than we can.

The traditional mechanism for this is electing a representative. There are a number of serious problems with this method. One is accountability – if I decide I chose wrongly, I have to wait two to six years to correct my mistake. Another is that it leaves 49% of the electorate unrepresented, because they voted for losing candidates.

A Positive Proxy system addresses these problems by allowing you to choose your own representative, and if you change your mind, un-choose them on the spot and pick somebody else. And if the representative you chose is only competent at some of the issues remaining after your initial cherry-pick, they can delegate the rest to someone further down the line – and if you disagree with their delegation of your political power, you can either talk it out with them and arrive at a mutually acceptable solution, or simply revoke your proxy and give it to somebody else.

Gerrymandering is another issue obviated by this system. Since all representation is individually selected, there are no districts with whose borders to play games.

Selecting representation addresses fairly precisely half of the problems with political systems. The other half is, “Who gets to write the laws we get to vote on?” This problem has already been solved, by fully open-sourcing the bill-creation process. For example, the entire Deutsches Reichsgerift (German Federal legal code) is maintained in a Github repository, where anyone in the world can check out a piece, comment on it, modify it, or suggest a replacement for it, and check it back in, where a clerk will triage it and forward it to the appropriate representative if it looks like it might be worthwhile.

Implementing both halves of this as a representational system would require rewriting the constitution. However, there’s another way to implement it. If we create a version for use by candidates and representatives as a communicative tool with which to maintain relations with their constituents, using an advisory communications tool doesn’t require any approval by anybody except the people using it. We believe it would be such a useful tool that in short order any candidate *not* running such a system would be very hard put to win election.

This is at first an IT implementations project. To run it, we will need a project manager for the overall project, a Github administrator, an internet security expert, a database jock, an interface designer, a network engineer, and probably an equal number of experts in fields that the project manager will identify that I don’t know about.

If you either have one of these skill sets, want to be a systems tester, or feel you have some other contribution to make, please click the link below and get in touch with us.

Email Project Manager