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Why isn't there more direct communication between citizens and our elected officials?

The apparently not so original idea I had about a more complete influence of the citizens by means of electronic ballots at our discretion is discussed in this related proposition:

http://www.ted.com/conversations/2133/what_about_doing_away_with_pol.html

The following question was raised:

"it's something I've been wondering about. The issue I arrive at is how to ensure that there are no cases of hacking into an account, voting on behalf of someone else, etc."
-Dan Notty

This could be totally avoided by having city/state/federal run facilities designed for 24/7 public access and use. They would be guarded and sacred and visiting one would be a privilege of citizenry.

If we could demand a speedy logical and fair response from our elected officials when we as a people unite on an issue we wouldn't have to wait until election time any more to let our voices be heard.

Is there any real reason why this isn't already happening besides cost of construction and legislative semantics?

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    Mar 12 2014: Frankly, because we the people have not made it a requirement to do so. I do not know where you are from ... maybe the USA? If so what state?

    I will use Arizona as an example. John McCain is a good example. I have written to him with no answer ... went to town hall meetings and he gets mad at anyone who questions him ... mega ego ... is all over the map politically ... has not passed any thing to benefit Arizona ... However, it is sometimes better to keep a toad that you know than to elect a new toad that has not yet lined his pockets.

    Politicians only have two goals: 1) Get elected, and 2) Get re-elected. They will say anything and do anything for a ride on the gravy train. All expenses paid .. $250,000 a year ... all of the insider trading, bribes, and kickbacks you can muster .... two terms to a full retirement .... what a racket.

    Look at the last election year promises ... any of them kept ... attempted to keep ... all the other guys fault.

    It is not their fault ... we do not punish them .. hold them accountable ... or vote them out. Until we do look forward to more of the same abuse from the person who works for you.

    Want change vote them out and let the next guy know it can happen to him/her also.

    Be well. Bob.
  • Mar 29 2014: Bob Loblaw, Thank you for starting this thought ---
    We all need to get busy before our Governors clamp down on our collective necks...

    I plucked this, in part, from the link you provided, and a comment there from Apr 19 2011...
    I've edited it to meet my needs.

    While this sounds good on its face, the problem is that not everyone has equal access to the internet
    technology we would use.

    Someone like me, with a computer at home, at work, on my phone, could communicate more easily
    than someone without those tools or abilities. So it would serve to tilt the power slightly to those who
    happen to have the economic means and infrastructure to access the Internet, while disenfranchising
    those who do not.
    ===
    HOWEVER, there is another way to effect change you can believe in... Sound a bit familiar???
    ===
    TODAY -- THIS CAN BE ACCOMPLISHED. Today, It does need Young Men and Women to do it.

    1. Banking ATM locations, already established, CAN BE ADAPTED AND USED for voting daily 24/7/365.
    2. "At any time" voters could change their minds, and their votes, and effect a recall of any elected official.
    3. A "wave of discontent" would be felt immediately.
    4. A politician would be wise to show integrity, or else find himself suddenly without a job.
    5. Unpopular and corrupt actions would be recognized and dealt with forthwith.
    6. CIA and NSA and DHS and Patriot Act, etc., as the list goes on, would become as nothing.

    YOU -- young peoples need to take control of those who you elect to govern.
    Are you not tired of owing the company store for your education.
    Are you not tired of stagnant wages, a 1,000% below the level of your employer's earnings.

    Remember -- A Governor is not your boss. You are not a slave to your Governor. Make it so.
  • Mar 27 2014: this question is quite a peculiar one. Every day people just assume that there is an logical explanation that they, as they might not be highly educated, don`t have the ability to grasp. Truth be told, with the technology level we have we are able of communicating fast and efficiently. A cloud of "processes" and official authorities approval between the supplier and the consumer will always be in the supplier`s interest.

    This could work for few ideas from wide groups of people, but then again, this only creates issues between the groups to prove who has the loudest voice. This type of system is far from able to connect all of the ideas of every individual to a minority authorized to make decisions based on the "general public opinion". Private companies will listen more to the individual than a state-owned company, from here we can deduce than private states, more based on the individuals of a small area would be more efficient than a "head authority" and would be able to support the people from the perspective of their environment (by the environment i mean our current environment: advanced technology, high production...etc.).

    To sum it up, whats between us and the official authorities is a best-buyers market. Publicity has become a Market-like system where is you want to be heard you must compete and earn it.
  • Mar 22 2014: Why isn't there more direct communication between
    citizens and our elected officials?

    Example of Florida Politicians and Prosecutors who for years refused citizens access,
    and hid facts from Grand Juries, in this piece of lingering history --
    ===
    "The White House Boys - An American Tragedy" Google it.
    ===
    “If you cried, they beat you harder,” (George Goewey).
    Just Kids --
    Ray Hall, James Mutter, John Brodnax, Roger Bryan, James Young, Jackie Florence,
    Michael O'McCarthy, Frank Marx, Randall Morgan Steed, Manuel Giddens, Michael Smelly,
    George Owen Smith, John Bennett, Ellis Adams, John GoForth, Timothy Gabriel, Don Brace,
    Hollis Sutton, Edgar Elton, James Bundy, Michael Bates, Richard Tabb, Michael Raines,
    William Michael Squires, Leonard Simmons, Eddie Gillman, Nathaniel Sawyer, Arthur Williams,
    Schley Hunter, Calvin Williams, Charlie Overstreet, Edward Fonders, George Robinson,
    Walter Askew, Nollie Davis, Robert Rhoden, Samuel Bethel, Lee Smith, Joe Stephens,
    Thomas Varnadoe, Richard Nelson, Robert Cato, Grady Huff, James (Joseph) Hammond,
    Earl Wilson, Billey Jackson, Richard Dees, Edwin Fudge, Larry E. Martin, Virgil "Ike" Dwight Whitten,
    David (Freddie) Hutchins, Stephen T. Turner, Emmett Gillman, Cecil Andrew Barger, Wayne Howard,
    George Edward Driver, Jr., Thomas Edward Howard, John Argersinger, Leo Thomas Scott,
    Gene Newsome, Russ Haitt, Robert Johnson, Bobby Jackson, Albert Williams, Sylvester Settle,
    Odis Clemons, Issaic Abrams, Dove Kinder.

    March 12, 2013
    Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office filed a petition on behalf of Medical Examiner Dr. Michael Hunter
    to allow him to exhume human remains on the site of the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Fla.,
    for up to one year.

    In addition, Attorney General Bondi has also supported investigative efforts by working with the
    Department of Environmental Protection to support a 150-day extension of an injunction barring the sale
    of the state-owned land.

    Sounds like R.E. skullduggery.
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    Mar 13 2014: Imagine a President in India, Nigeria, China and other densely populated states, recieving letters from millions of citizens or daily visits by hundreds of citizens; and he has to address their needs, which is as varied as human ideas.

    How would such leaders ever have time for the serious task of governance?
    • Mar 16 2014: I agree provided such leaders perform well.

      The problem is that every elected or appointed official
      wants to be "in charge".

      We elect based upon promises made before the election.
      Then nothing happens.

      I do not understand "the serious task of governance".
      Perhaps you could enlighten me?

      People work hard, produce goods, pay taxes, and expect
      their governors to provide needed services in return.

      People do not want their governors to War on anyone.
      People do not want their governors to force a belief system on them.
      People do not want their governors to enslave them.
      People do not want their governors to spy and use surveillances on them.
      People do not want their governors to torture them.
      People do not want their governors to ignore them and their needs.

      People want their governors to have integrity and honesty.

      When a leader accepts the job, he needs to fully understand that
      his responsibility is to make the time for the people.
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    Apr 10 2014: Short answer, until the structure of our political decision making is changed, nothing else will change and we will always be at the mercy of political hubris. If we are going to preach democracy then it is high time to practice real democracy. Direct Democracy that is.

    Political parties are entities unto themselves and, as such, often end up with people in them who think the party is what is important, not the constituencies that get those members elected. This is nothing new.

    Elected officials, once in office, are supposed to be employees protecting and fulfilling the interests of their employers, the citizenry. Ha, Ha! As has been shown time again those officials decide what those interests are, often regardless of what the citizenry wants or requires.

    But what company or business would ever allow the employees to decide what their own wages, benefits or raises were to be? Or allow their employees to decide what the priorities of the business were? Or to sell off assets, take on debt and establish procedures that put the business owners - the citizenry - at risk such as de-regulation - without first obtaining agreement from those owners/citizenry?

    Any time we invest power and authority in a public office, we put ourselves at risk of being ignored, dis-respected and even abused by those who are able to obtain those offices. This has been proven true time and time again in public services, policing, religions and governments alike. There may well be more instances of the misuse of power than of those in public office ever actually representing the needs of their constituents.

    Participatory systems of governance may well be time consuming and frustrating but that is the price to be paid for taking back the authority and the responsibility of our legislative decision making. If you want the job done right then be involved. It really is that simple.

    /but nothing is going to change until the structure is changed.
  • Apr 2 2014: BOB, This should be an April Fools Day joke.
    Sadly... It is not.

    Today, Mr. Clapper said that the NSA Applicant's and Jurist's of the FISA Court can make their own Law,
    and did so, and in doing so, ran Prius surveillances on Americans, to fit the NSA's needs of course.

    Why isn't there more direct communication between citizens and our elected officials?

    If one of you could please have a conversation with an elected official concerning this matter
    I would dance at your wedding.

    Just one of you, or more. Heck, don't hurry, do it tomorrow. I look forward to your responses.
  • Apr 1 2014: It may be a bad comment for some people the officials in my locality has a complete attitudinal change after getting powers.......This is why they lack communication with us...hoping for a change............
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    Mar 31 2014: In my case in Manila, Philippines, it's almost obvious that officials are prejudiced with whom they talk to.
    Forget it if you failed to register for the last election or did it as a protest action. I sent 2 letters online, one last year and last January. One for an ex-president and one for our acting Mayor. Both are still unanswered.

    Pols generally try to avoid real-time dialogues to evade 'trap' questions wherin they would be forced to answer poorly. Maybe my letters contained 'trap' questions.
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    Mar 31 2014: because they have only two goals in life that 1) elected and another is 2)make a money on any way like make scandal,corruption or any thing else....

    if we choose true leader so he have always give us responds and directly meet us for example in some year ago i my country one story was published in news paper that one day one common man wrote letter to president of India (Dr.A.P.J. Abdul Kalam) and mentioned that he faced problem to attend higher education and sent on president's address. After two weeks he received a envelop and find out a cheque of rs.15000 and one letter " Thank you for mentioning your problem and say sorry for i can't meet with you for busy schedule"
    this is called true leader.....


    This is the reason we have to choose true leader whom have time for us and who take care of us.............
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    Mar 27 2014: We as a citizen made that upper and lower dialog, what is the difference between a citizen and leader, same human DNA. Otherwise the perfect leader who is lower than a citizen.
  • Mar 27 2014: We all know why...... plenty of you guys posting here have brilliant ideas budding. (carlos rubio) Smaller governments, more chiefs, better suited to a more sustainable population as opposed to one GOVERNING BODY ruling with supremacy. I like it already....

    The question for the great minds and activist is not why but WHAT HOW AND WHEN are we going to collectively change it.
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    Mar 21 2014: Why? Elected officials are there to present an illusion that we have someone on our behalf when in reality we do not. Why would elected officials want to be bothered by our needs?

    People assume the president of the United States has enormous powers but that is ONLY an assumption. We do not get to see what goes on behind closed doors. We know what happened to Ronald Reagan, likely the last president who tried to exercise his right to help the people.

    We can assume the president and elected officials are concerned for our well being but we will never have proof or evidence that they are.
  • Mar 17 2014: If referendums were not expensive, the people could have their say on more things. Would any government/hierarchy want this? NO. Why? because giving the public an opinion on things that affect them does not fit into their wish to control us.

    Governments like to pretend they know what is in our best interest, so they can continue with their own agendas (They treat us as dumbfounded). And if there is no way of engaging the true public opinion, then the public are deemed to be compliant with whatever the governments proposals are.

    The democracy we currently have is a smoke screen for the hierarchies covert affairs. Otherwise it would be incredibly simple to implement the system you suggest and make referendums and opinion polls easier.

    What we need is a revolutionary political party that has the decency, courage and moral integrity to introduce this.

    Anyone who believes democracy is the choosing of a political party once every half decade is up a tree.

    A good example of how the hierarchies like to pretend to represent us is with the current situation between Russia, Crimea and Ukraine. The public do not want the EU and especially the USA to be involved in any conflict between these countries, but our government attempts to persuade us of a side to take based on feeding us lies (which we are too intelligent not to see through).

    The majority of the conflict is civil and no boundaries have been crossed one way or the other to suggest escalation and the international public believe Crimea are within their right to choose to be an independent state, yet the media feeds us images of fabricated conflict. When in fact it is the USA that is encouraging conflict, because they have their own agenda against Russia. If the system above was used to engage opinion from the public (regards creating sanctions, etc...) the USA and the EU would have to butt out of the whole situation and stick their sanctions where the sun don't shine.

    But hey ho welcome to Earth.
  • Mar 16 2014: About personal contact --
    with the guys and gals elected to serve us, I haven't a clue on how to get face-to-face.
    I did try once... The Rep or Senator had 7 layers of suits between himself and me.
    That was in Santa Barbara, many years ago.
    I was actually in the same room, and never got near him.
    ===
    Banks with their ATM's would be the way to go, from a location standpoint.

    Equipment could be modified to ease filling tax forms and collect Taxes at the same time.
    Lawyers and Tax accountants with their Trusts and accounting principals could be eliminated.
    Financial Advisors would go the way of the horse and buggy, or maybe PT Barnum... "Snicker"
    Tax Time Advisors that dip into those refund checks, would be hard put to tell customers how
    the IRS is ripping them off... Dealing direct is always better when you owe the dough.
    And the government is going to threaten you with perjury penalties every time you have contact.
    Remember we not only elect them, we enslave ourselves to them.

    Using an Automated Voting Station 24/7 would end Election Days and Voting Booths, and Lines.
    Ongoing referendums that put the elected officials feet to the flames would let the voters express
    their views 24/7, and they could be counted - for or against - any politician getting or staying elected.
    Elect and toss out, sounds ok to me.

    The use of Bank ATM property would have to be leased by the Feds of course. And Banks
    would hire and train clerks to satisfy new needs (conjured up by sly Bankers), and on rainy days,
    Banks might even provide hot coffee and a donut or two. That in itself would draw the Law.
    Stiff laws with harsh prison terms might keep things honest... or not.

    I've always wanted to vote on a Sunday and write my name in for President.
    And later on Monday change my mind.
    ===
    1935?
    The Director of the NSA is responsible to only 2 people in our government,
    The Sec of the DOD, and Obama... That's why nothing's been done.
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    Mar 16 2014: Wake up America. Don't you know that voting is a sacred priviledge and you should have the philosophy and voting record to read before you vote, so that hopefully we will elect an honest representative. We do have to show our ID to Inn Keepers, to cash a check, to drive a car and I think these are lesser responsibilities than voting. What do you think?
    Beware of the candidate who promises to make everything right. Career politicians will say anything to keep their office...............................
    • Mar 16 2014: Sacred Privilege.....
      Helen this is not an attack on you. Please forgive me. I get out of control...
      ===
      Helen, our Federal Government has had 237 years of being elected officials.
      We are not doing so well with the process.
      Name a politician, any of them. Look closely.

      The abundance of Taxed Payers given, have received so very little in return.
      Wars, Killing, Maiming, Torture, Prisoners, Enforcement by armed threats.
      Necessary to protect you and I from what? Terrorists? 63 Armed conflicts
      since WW2. And check it out. Fought against the nations and organizations
      sitting upon the very lowest rung on the ladder of economic wealth.

      There are 176 of them. The US always fights the 174, 175, 176, and guess
      what in 2014 North Korea is 176.

      You can wiki and find the annual chart of those poor nations who are totally
      broke and broken after we are through doing War with them. Most have just
      ceased to exist.

      Despots, Evil Leaders, etc... You might think so...
      But, Saddam was our good buddy for a lot of years. Ooops ...
  • Mar 15 2014: Why do the elected speak to each other instead of doing what we tell them they have no right to an opinion our opinion is their opinion. I live in a Country with no Government of its own we were promised one during a World War but it never happened.

    Our? - Capital only listens to itself and our so called representatives who are picked before they are chosen represent Westminster to us instead of the other way round! The London politicians and London business supported by the London media have turned our democracy upside down and employ the word democracy as a blunt weapon to browbeat us into intellectual and physical submission
  • Mar 15 2014: The problem is that politicians are too busy meeting their own needs to worry about ours. Political parties are another problem. They have become the politicians' religion. They spend so much time arguing ideology and trying to beat the other side that they forget what they are there for. We need to learn how to use the system against them. Most politicians get elected by collecting enough money to advertise and spout their parties dogma. If there were more people that actually were independent and gave legislation the consideration it deserves, we should be able to put our money behind them and get them elected. This would effectively create a third party, but one without all the dogma. Term limits would also help, but in such a way that a person could continue to serve if they were a good public servant. Every office could have a two term limit before you had to take a term off. You could run for another office, but the same two on one off rule would apply.
  • Mar 15 2014: Term limits would answer most of the issues (above). I see the wisdom in a 6 year (one term) presidential stand. As it is, a little happens in the first two years, the next two are running for re-election, then there is the 2nd term which normally includes world travel, and campaigning for Congressmen at the mid term. A six year term with no re-election would eliminate the waste of time in getting "back in". For Congress, limit them to 2 terms--it's embarrassing to see Senators retiring after spending their whole life in Washington.
    I say clean up the election rules and then vote them all out and start over. It might be rocky for a few years, but it would deal with the issues we know we have but think are unable to be solved.
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    Mar 15 2014: I listened to this talk today it is apt to this thread.

    At about 17 min he talks about representative government and it"s futility, the one titled "Libertarian Anarchy"


    http://www.schiffradio.com/pg/jsp/verticals/archive.jsp?dispid=310&pid=64445

    He points out the futility of representative government because the representative does not know the agenda of his constituents. At the end of the day he is saying that someone has to rule and they are not really going to represent anyone.
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    Mar 13 2014: I can bring you an example we have in Italy (without any intention to be polemic): well, since few years we have one party that has as aim to bring "Normal citizens" at the government, where everything should be voted by the so-called basis (i.e. electors from this party) before being reported to the parliament, or the town hall etc
    in my opinion this experiment failed for many reasons:
    - I still believe that to be a politician is a job and competences and expertise are needed, nobody can just wake up one morning and begin to legislate
    - not everyone has the time to get informed on every single proposal that has to be presented, so I guess this is why we chose to have representative democracy where politicians are paid to do that
    - deputees should have freedom of conscience, therefore I found not far the fact they all have to stick with a decision made by others

    I presented here some reasons, I do not want to get into what I think about this party, this is not my intention. And I also know that politicians do not always do a good job, but I am happy to live in a democratic country
  • Mar 13 2014: Hi Bob.
    When are you going to get it into and through your head. that voting doesn't work?
    Ted poster Mike Colera, below, near the bottom said,
    "Most voters do not care." Generally speaking, if someone votes, they do care.
    Voting doesn't work and it's officials who don't care other than saying whatever they think they have to say
    to get elected in elections they buy!! Simple arithmetic but American'ts lie to themselves about it over and over.
    Once in, it has nothing to do with whether something or the other
    is or is not, an effective use of their time. They don't care: the officials, those in office.
    He also said, "Every few years there is an election, there is a lot of talking without anything being said in 30 second and the election is on a workday.?
    Yes, so that means, "Yup, we gotta change this shit, but first I have to go to work!" Americans are not only insane, they have now been rendered into stupidity. And willingly so.
    Most of the comments here indicate that voting doesn't work and then there are those who GO AND VOTE ANYWAY!!
    Just how stupid are Americans? Near the bottom, idiots? Me thinks so.
    They know it doesn't work, then they defend it, then they go vote and chastise those who didn't!!

    Voting is "doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results".

    That is commonly used or quoted by Americans as, a or the, definition of insanity, But it isn't.
    It is however, a DESCRIPTION of insane behavior, so American'ts are insane, incredibly stupid,
    almost completely brainwashed, and worship their lies over the truth.
    Did you vote!! Well then don't complain. Do your part. VOTE! for cryin' out loud.

    It doesn't work. You need a completely new system.
    Still don't get it yet?
    Defend it some more.
    There''s nothing to defend. It's already gone. Another lie American'ts believe.
    There's' something left to defend in spite of Edward Snowden Julian Assange,
    and others who are characterized as outlaws. Wow!
  • Mar 13 2014: Those were the days my friend, we thought will never end...but they have

    Society is too big too complex and work load for every one is taxing for every one. This idea is a false dream,

    Even when some one asks a question, it makes no sense. Most people are not trained or well studied to ask a question that can have viable answer. I often watch these debates and person will get up and ask personal situation question. If you represent 20 million in Illinois, no one can handle it. Even for law maker to understand issue is impossibility.

    This load does not lead to paradise
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    Mar 12 2014: Why not create an alias right here on TED and read what concerns and ideas regular people who have a genuine interest in the political system think??

    Utilize the resources already available to them? TED wont descriminate against political officials having a profile and getting involved with the topics of conversation.

    The answers are already out there and they could find them if they felt so inclined but alas there doesn't seem to be much interest in finding out what real people think.
  • Mar 12 2014: Answering the questions of their constituents is not an effective use of their time. Perhaps we need a computerized national public forum. Individuals could pose questions to the government, (city/county/state/federal as appropriate), and also search answers to previously posed questions. Elected officials would have their names associated to their replies, even if staff and computers handled most of the questions. The replies would be stored as public record and be searchable along with officials voting records. This would allow voters to see where candidates actually stand on the issues.
  • Mar 12 2014: Because consensus is impossible since the majority is rarely informed, so it's easier to alienate or subjugate than to communicate.
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    Mar 12 2014: Mostly because of the centralized nature of the government. When I write the US senators I get an form letter answer about 6 months later. The Congressman I will get a letter back in a few months only if it is an popular subject. If it is not something they want to talk about I get no answer. The last one I questioned him on, now that he was a lame duck, would he admit that TARP was a mistake because at the time he sent back a form letter saying he had to vote for TARP because otherwise the economy would collapse. I called him when he hosted a radio show asking him how to balance the budget to which he replied this got to be quick and then gave me a glib answer because it did him no good to answer the question.

    They are supposed to have town hall meetings but those imo are somewhat staged amongst their supporters.

    For starters repeal the 17th amendment.

    Raising people's awareness about this subject helps but truthfully if they are apathetic you will not get anywhere with them. Since acorn worked so well for Obama a similar activity might help but no matter how you figure this subject is a real ditch digger.
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    Mar 12 2014: Most voters do not care. Every few years there is an election, there is a lot of talking without anything being said in 30 second and the election is on a workday.
  • Mar 11 2014: Because there doesn't have to be. Elected officials can keep getting re-elected without bothering to have direct communication. People usually vote for reasons that have nothing to do with how well an official actually represents their desires.