Mandan News

Government gridlock and possible solutions

Well it’s last Friday to me and next Friday to you and once again I seem to be typing away wondering what will come forth. First off let me say that the prairie sure has seems to be preparing for winter. The leaves are turning, the temps are falling, and most of us locals are wondering how long it will be before we see our first snow…so much for the weather report.

There’s a big week ahead, Congress is going to decide whether or not to shut down the federal government over Obamacare and Obamacare is scheduled to get underway on Tuesday and then they get to decide whether to pay their bills…and OMG!, maybe it’s time for a vote of confidence.

It seems to me that the downside of our representative form of government has a flaw in that you and I really don’t have much to say about what they’re doing until the next election which can be up to 4yrs away. In this age of social media, instant news, smart phones, and such we could come up with a way to let our elected representatives know how we feel about what they’re doing.

So let me propose a solution here for you to chew on a bit. Why couldn’t we set up a system/application where you and I could cast a vote that would allow us direct input into our government? It seems to me that those of us with smart phones and access to the internet where we do our banking, bill paying, shopping, and such should be able to cast a verifiable vote on any given issue.

Presently our government seems to govern by polls, random samples of citizens that totally depend on how the questions are formed. These polls ebb and flow and it seems like there are hundreds of pollsters out there each asking their own questions sloped towards the answers they want. Is this a good way to govern or are there better solutions?

So why can’t someone smarter than me develop a secure application where we can vote with our phones or computers or television sets? Hang with me here whilst I head into the theater of imagination.

Let’s say that Congress gridlocks like they are now. Instead of putting you and me into apoplexy that causes all of us to shake our heads and walk away from the ensuing political bloviating would you be willing to cast a vote that gave your representatives a solid sense of their constituent’s mood? If not you might want to quit reading here.

Since you’re still I’ll continue imaginings. By now you should be wondering how this would work. Each of us already has a number of traceable security numbers/passwords and such. It seems to me that it would be rather simple to create a secure application for each eligible voter. And if this is possible then I imagine that when an issue arises we would get a notification on our devices that asked us to vote on the issue. More than likely the vote would be a ‘yes or no’ and it should be advisory until the system is debugged and we the people decide whether or not it’s viable.

If the system is viable it should re-affirm that our government is of, for, and most importantly by the people. But then again this idea requires that ‘we the people’ be fully engaged in our government and given the present state of ‘we the disconnected, frustrated, and uninterested people’ maybe this isn’t a good idea. So I guess all we can do is hope that our representatives do the right thing while ‘we the people’ decide whether or not we really want to get involved in governing ourselves. Here’s hoping that your imaginings lead you to more usable solutions than I came up with here…

By Conversations with Dan Ulmer