Dissatisfaction with Congress is at an all time high, with the Congressional Job Approval polls at about a 19% approval rating. Usually a poor showing in these polls leads to an increase in the minority party’s rating, but the GOP is still showing lower than expected strength.
Third parties haven’t caught on, either, but grass roots campaigns like the Tea Party movement garner more respect. Disgusted voters may like to see strong, independent candidates, but the barriers to entry can usually be overcome only by an organized, well financed political party. Reformers have yet to come up with a way to break through unless the candidate is independently wealthy.
Tim’s plan is to sign up people who want to remove professional politicians in favor of local citizens. In each congressional district, these folks would answer a questionnaire, caucus together in groups of ten, and advance one of the ten to the next round. A congressional district with 100 interested citizens would start with 10 groups, all feeding their best candidate to the final group of ten for a decision. At the end of the process, each of the 435 congressional districts would have a candidate to run against the established candidates. Because Tim realizes the citizens of San Francisco may want a person with different views than the citizens of Salt Lake City, the only requirement is that the candidate agree to limit their term in Congress.
But the real question is funding. How can a local caucus of volunteers compete with the billions spent by the parties? The process is free too join as a voter, but people who decide to become “declared candidates” pony up $100 at the beginning. The funds are then distributed to the final 435 candidates to pay for filing fees, etc. The caucus members themselves provide the necessary signatures to qualify for the ballot.
Tim has addressed some of the difficulties in getting “regular people” to serve as legislators, including removing partisan influences. But I suspect the real story will be if the caucuses themselves hold together as differences become magnified through the selection process.
Cross-posted to FrankHagan.com