“When citizens speak, their Representative must listen completely. Across our land, the so-called “Representatives” have not troubled to listen to We the People, and this is a key reason our country is in such dire straits today.” – Jake Towne
September 9, 2009
Ever call or write your representative or senator? Ever wonder exactly how much effect it really had? Were you the only person who called, or were there hundreds more? Sure, the staffer might have tallied your call, but was your call really considered by your politician? The truth is stark. First, most of the time you truly have no real idea. Second, like it or not, your Democratic and Republican politician likes it this way.
When Establishment politicians talk “accountability” and “transparency,” these are often just empty buzzwords. As a servant of the people, I’ve come up with this simple yet novel concept, which I’ve nicknamed “Our Open Office.”
The key benefits of my proposal are:
Each resident has a real public voice – to comment, vote, debate, and criticize
Each constituent will have a way to publicly demand I address their ideas and concerns by submitting bills online
Citizens can summon me to an “On Demand” town hall by reaching a threshold level on topics they feel I am not addressing timely enough or to their satisfaction
By incorporating the feedback of specialists in different fields and interests, particularly with the bill submission ability, our office will be far more efficient with better ideas than other districts because our work force will be larger and more specialized. Those “working” outside of my office will be working voluntarily on issues that have the highest priority for them, empowering the individual citizen.
Accountability and Transparency
All residents can receive a monthly report from my office detailing each house floor vote taken, each bill introduced, and each bill co-sponsored. Feedback from the forum will be summarized into this report. Most importantly, I, the representative, will be forced to outline WHY I voted each way.
My office’s budget report will be publicized and readily available on the website so citizens can see how their tax dollars were spent.
Empowering citizens to public discourse and enabling open, visible criticism and dissent of my actions makes me more accountable to the people.
The first part is the Online Public Feedback & Debate Forum. Each resident of our district can create a login if they choose. A public moniker is chosen, which can be their real name or nickname by their choice. Comments from registered voters are flagged with an icon to denote their importance. Residents can sign up for email notifications on all issues, or just the issues they care most about.
Each House bill that is coming up for vote will have a webpage denoted for it. Residents can vote for or against bills, and leave comments or debate in the space below. Phone calls received at the office are tallied along with letters on the same page so everyone can see at a glance what the current opinion is.
Residents can also join topic-oriented forums and create debates on subjects they wish to discuss.
Those without internet access may visit the local office to use a terminal, request the current status or dictate comments manually when they call in by phone. Written letters and emails will be shared in the forum if the resident gives permission to share it.
The second part of Our Open Office is monthly reports. Each month a written monthly report will be issued by my office. It will include my position on each House floor vote, each bill co-sponsored, and each bill introduced. Most importantly, it will also include my reasoning so if residents disagree they can understand why. I will refer to the Forum’s public feedback as well, especially if cases occur where I voted in one direction and the Forum’s opinion was in the opposite direction. The office’s financial budget reports will also be included in these monthly reports.
The next part of Our Open Office is the online bill submission service. Each resident can exercise their right to petition the government and can suggest new legislation. The only requirements are that the drafter must provide justification for the bill and must either cite one of the powers of Congress in the Constitution or, if revoking a current law or act, its unconstitutionality. Once the resident’s bill proposal is submitted publicly, I am forced to publicly reply. I may either agree to introduce the bill, contact the drafter for more information or modification, submit the bill to the Forum for feedback, or reject the proposal. If rejected, I must disclose why.
I am very excited about the bill submission idea as it could allow us to multiply our office’s output many times. We may even need to organize ourselves to sell our ideas to citizens in other districts and organizations to get these bills passed, instead of relying on corrupt lobbyists and partisan deal-making.
The last part of Our Open Office is on-demand town hall discussions. Town halls will be offered in either teleconference format while Congress is in session and in local meeting areas when Congress is not in session. There are two formats – open Q&A sessions or a specific issued discussed followed by Q&A afterwards. However, residents will also have the ability to summon me, their servant, to a town hall on an issue that I fail to address quickly enough by reaching a certain threshold limit in the forum. These town halls will be in addition to frequent video and written updates from the office.
I would like to conclude with resident feedback which has been resoundingly positive. Many have even told me, “That’s exactly what I would do if I were elected.” The vast majority of people in our district are fed up with economic ruin the Establishment has caused with their havoc on economic and civil liberties. Almost everyone believes their representatives are no longer accountable to them, and they are correct. This concept will cure this ill!!!
FYI, I go into more detail on my motivation for this idea here, “The Concept of Our Open Office.”
From 02:00 to the end of this video clip, I discuss the Open Office concept with Clyde Cleveland, author of Common Sense Revisited.