The job of the Local Electors would be a political one. They would be the elected government representatives for members of a community, and would serve as the link between that community and the government at the local, state, and national levels. They would therefore have responsibilities within the community and within each level of government. Local Electors would be full-time employees of the state government.
Here are some initial thoughts about the job description of Local Electors and some related considerations. Ultimately the job description would be determined by the states and the communities themselves, with some guidance from the Department of Communities (DCM). Much public discussion will be needed in order to flesh this out.
Local Electors Within Their Community
Local Electors would be responsible for holding regular community meetings that would serve as a forum for citizens to interact with their Local Elector and with one another in a formal setting. Each community would undoubtedly develop its own unique meeting style, but meetings would need to serve as a way for members of the community to voice their public needs and concerns (issues).
Self-government would begin with individuals presenting the issues they care about to their community. It would be the beginning of a process that would allow individuals to affect government policy. Issues that gain the support of others would gradually rise to the top and become policy, while issues that fail to get support would not make it through the process.
Here is an example of how this process might work. If a citizen has an issue he would like to present to the community, his first step would be to tell other community members about it, to find out what they think, and to attempt to build support. If others support the issue and believe it should be raised to the entire community, they could either work with the Local Elector or the Community Leadership Board (CLB) to get it on the agenda, or be given the opportunity to raise it during a designated portion of the meeting.
When the issue is raised, the community would have a discussion. Members would have a chance to express their opinion, and one or more votes might be cast. (Voting could be simplified with a wireless audience response system.) The community could decide that the issue should be handled within the community, escalated to the government for further consideration, or be closed and no longer considered. If the community agrees the issue should be escalated to the government, the Local Elector would be responsible for building support for it beyond the community and presenting it to the appropriate office holder.
Local Electors, with the help of the CLB, would be responsible for managing this process and ensuring issues are properly considered within the community. Since the Local Electors would be responsible for taking issues to the next level, they would need to work with the community to prioritize issues and set the communities’ expectations for issues they choose to escalate. Ultimately, each Local Elector would be judged according to how well he manages this process and the results he produces with the issues that are escalated.
For members of communities, the Local Elector would also serve some of the functions that the news media does today. Rather than citizens being dependent on unaccountable news sources, Local Electors themselves would provide first-hand information about what is going on in government to members of their community. This would allow for continuous two-way communication between the people and the government, and would be the ideal mechanism for citizens to provide feedback to their government. Citizens could also get news about the government and newsworthy events from the new public news media, as well as the private news media that exists today. This variety of fundamentally different sources of news would enable citizens to get a good 360 degree view of their government. With the ability to have an impact and a community of friends to discuss the news with, communities could become hotbeds of political discussion and political action.
Local Electors Within the Government
Local Electors would also be part of a community of Local Electors, and as such would they meet regularly, share information and work together when dealing with the government. These meetings would be an opportunity for each Local Elector to build support for issues his own community would like addressed by the government. In some cases, one Local Elector may want to bring an issue raised by another Local Elector up in his own community.
Each elected office holder would hold regular meetings with the Local Electors within his jurisdiction. Local Electors would present the issues that are of concern to their community, and the Local Electors as a group would discuss issues with the office holder, much as would be done within the communities. The office holder would work with the Local Electors to prioritize issues and set the group’s expectations on these issues, and would come away with a list of issues that he would then work to get on the government agenda and enacted into law—or whatever other course of action is appropriate. Office holders would be judged according to how well they handle this process and the results they produce.
Office holders would also report on the status issues on their agenda, and how they are being dealt with by the government. They would provide first-hand information about what is going on in government and give Local Electors the opportunity to provide feedback. Local Electors would be expected to be heavy consumers of the new Professional Public News media (PPN), which would allow discussions to be as productive as possible.
These meetings would be conducted live and in person, as much as is possible, in order to facilitate personal relationships, bonds of trust, and understanding between everyone involved. This would lead to healthy organizations that are mutually rewarding for everyone and would create a strong link between government and the people.
Collectively, Local Electors would serve as the governing body of government—the board of directors. They would not be responsible for working on any policy issues themselves, but would work with elected office holders to establish strategic goals and direction, to put specific issues on the government’s agenda, and to set its priorities. Once these are in place, the Local Electors would monitor the performance of office holders and of the government in general.
Office holders and the body they are part of would be responsible for learning the details of different policy options, getting input from all appropriate parties and making fair and objective policy decisions. In some cases, an office holder may choose to poll his Local Electors to determine what the group prefers, but in most cases that would not be necessary. Once a decision is made, office holders would write a report for public consumption describing the decision, how it is in the public interest, and how all appropriate interests were weighed. If there are office holders who disagree, they could write a dissenting report. This would be published in the PPN. Once this process is complete, Local Electors could ask questions of their office holder so that they can understand how and why decisions were made.
The relationship between Local Electors and office holders would have a major bearing on how effective and efficient government would be. It would be very important for Local Electors to not micromanage office holders. Office holders—particularly the executives (Governor, Mayor)—would need to be able to lead and respond to issues that need attention. Local Electors would be expected to provide oversight and accountability, and would serve as checks and balances, and protect against abuse of power, self-dealing, favoritism, and foolishness. Processes and mechanisms would need to be put in place to ensure Local Electors do not micromanage the government and that everyone works well together as a team.
Office holders would inevitably be required to deal with controversial issues and would be faced with difficult decisions. In these situations, once office holders have researched the issue and determined their preferred course of action, they could reason with their Local Electors and explain why they believe the course of action they have chosen is the best possible decision, using their relationship with the Local Electors to build support within the public. This would create a climate that facilitates rather than inhibits courageous decision-making. It would also insulate the government from the undue influence of those who would attempt to influence the public for their own selfish gain.
Electing Office Holders
Today, voters are responsible for electing candidates to a wide range of local and state officies—many of which most people, quite understandably, don’t have a clue about. Which officials Local Electors would be responsible for electing needs to be carefully evaluated. Should they be responsible for electing and meeting with the judges, the state natural resources commissioner, and the county water and sewer commissioner? It may be more appropriate for some positions to be appointed by the executive. Limiting the number of offices Local Electors need to be concerned with would simplify their job and allow these officials to be hired in a more sensible, standard hiring process.
When office holders are up for reelection, the community of Local Electors would be in the perfect position to judge whether they should be reelected. They would also be well positioned to judge other potential candidates for the job. Elections then would be more of a process of promoting good performers and letting poor performers go, much like it is in a business. For the general public, these elections would be a relatively minor affair, and would lack the circus and theatrics we are subjected to today.
Educating Local Electors
Many professions in America—from hair stylists to heart surgeons—require practitioners to have an education and certification proving that they have the qualifications necessary to perform a job. As a country, we need government officials who understand what is needed for government to run smoothly, and who understand things such as the principles of justice. In order to be successful at their job, Local Electors would need to have a wide variety of skills, such as public speaking, negotiating and conducting meetings, and would need a good understanding of their own job responsibilities, the responsibilities of office holders, and of government in general. Since so much of what happens in the country flows from the actions of government, and since Local Electors would be the lynchpin of government, it makes sense that, in order for someone to qualify as a candidate for Local Elector, he should be required to meet some baseline qualifications. At the same time, however, the position of Local Elector should be obtainable by many members of every community.
Since Local Electors perform a public service and knowledge about government is beneficial to everyone, this education would be free and easily assessable, and would be provided by the Department of Communities (DCM). Classes and information could be available online, with live in-person classes available where appropriate. Once someone has completed a class, they could go to a testing center in person to take a test. Colleges and universities could also offer courses and programs, and even various degrees related to government.
One possible way to handle this requirement would be to require people to have demonstrated a baseline of knowledge in order to qualify for the position of Local Elector. People would present their qualifications to the DCM official assigned to the community, the Community Advocate (CA), prior to being eligible. Alternatively, it could be required that people elected as Local Electors would need to pass a test demonstrating a baseline of knowledge before receiving a full paycheck. Knowledge beyond this baseline could be encouraged with a system of incentives. Local Electors with higher levels of certification could receive higher levels of financial compensation. Eligibility for elected office could be limited to those with higher levels of certification. This would lead to a very professional and highly effective government.
Compensating Local Electors
As the link—the connection between government and individuals in communities, Local Electors would be the key to what makes democracy works. The public would certainly recognize that Local Electors are the most important part of the government. Everything in government would stem from Local Electors and their interaction with their communities. Having good Local Electors would lead to good government—government could be no better than the quality of the Local Electors who would be its foundation.
Being a Local Elector would not be easy. One of their primary responsibilities would be to work with the general public, and anyone who has had a job working with the general public knows how difficult that can be. Considering that some community members might find the government to be a source of frustration, this job could involve an even higher level of difficulty. The job would require a considerable amount of skill, motivation, and intelligence, and a lot of time. Therefore, Local Electors should be paid no less than what someone in the private sector with comparable responsibilities and challenges is paid. The level of financial compensation should ensure that excellent candidates find the position attractive.
With Local Electors living in a community, working for the community and being held accountable by the community, it is likely that most people serving as Local Electors would enjoy good job security, and that turnover would be low. The position of Local Elector would likely become vacant more due to promotion than to incompetence or misbehavior. This would be a good thing, because it would provide a stable career for people who take the position, and would also create stability and strong connections in government. This would go a long way towards fostering a good government that serves the needs of the people.
“Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich, by promising to protect each from the other.” – Oscar Ameringer
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