Independents with a Process

Independents with a Process


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.

Now comes from a computer analyst who thinks he has found a process that may work. Tim Cox believes strongly in a citizen legislature.

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

  • Todd

    Love the general idea … representatives should beholden to their districts first and foremost.

    The devil is in the details though.

    Not at all a fan of their proposed implementation; especially the questionnaire.

    The questions are very black & white (even simplistic), with no gray area room for interpretation. And even worse, the candidates are Bound to vote based on how they answer these questions.

    This is Not a good idea at all.

    One of the things sorely lacking in today’s political environment is compromise, based on good faith negotiations.

    If every legislator is already committed to vote in a certain way, no matter what, how in the world will ANY bills be passed ???

    I don’t want my representatives to have to agree with me 100% of the time. All I want is someone who is honest, and will give me a straight answer about why they voted a certain way … even if I might not agree, or even like it.

    Back to the questionnaire … seriously go have a read in their forum … many of those proposed questions are almost as ridiculous as the recent “purity tests” that the RNC wants to impose on it’s candidates.

    We don’t need more “purity” in politics … we need more integrity.

    … and people with integrity DO sometimes change their minds as they gain additional insight and information.

    I personally don’t find anything at all wrong with that.

    So basically …

    Keep the silly questionnaires if you must, but ditch the “obligation” to vote based on a simple “for” or “against” answer, and this might just be an interesting idea.

    My two pennies,

  • Frank Hagan

    Good points, Todd. I think the process will break down with “non partisan fighting” because of human nature. And in a way, the iron clad promise to self-enforced term limits means the person might do what the heck he wants anyway … kind of “senioritis” or the “last week on the job” syndrome kicking in for the last term.

    Term limits are a kind of gimmick, in my view. They certainly haven’t helped us here in California; the lobbyists are the most experienced guys in town now, and they have basically taken over the state.

    Still, its nice to see a plan that goes beyond “kick the bums out!” With some modifications it could be viable in some districts, and I’m all for more competition if it means more people get involved in the process.

  • Mike A.

    I think Todd hit the nail. Integrity is missing in the process. In fact, in many areas of our nation, integrity seems to be elusive – whether it’s politics, business, education, etc.

    The idea is interesting…let’s see how it plays.

  • kranky kritter

    I think the questionnaire is dumb. I would specifically want a candidate who had a more sophisticated understanding than pro-this or anti-that.

    And I think that term limits, while well-intentioned, do not have real efficacy.

    We need candidates with substance that goes beyond the sort of simple symbolism this site seems to be seeking.