Our trouble is that we do not demand enough of the people who represent us. We are responsible for their activities… we must spur them to more imagination and enterprise in making a push into the unknown; we must make clear that we intend to have responsible and courageous leadership.
— First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, 1963
Right now, Americans concerned about something happening in Washington are often instructed to “Call Your Representatives”.
Although it’s well intended, there are some problems with this tactic.
Often, we’re sent to voicemail, and it’s unclear if the message ever gets through. Sometimes we might get a generic form letter months later.
There’s very little transparency about how many people reach out and where the district as a whole stands on the issues.
The total numbers aren’t officially published. Sometimes a rep’s office chooses to share them, but this isn’t required.
And they have little incentive to, especially if they’re not listening to their constituents, since it would only make them look bad.
We can bring this transparency
United.vote lets each American vote on every item in Congress.
We can make it easier to contact our representatives.
And since we verify our members’ identities and locations, we can now automatically score legislators for listening to or ignoring their constituents, on each legislative item.
Here’s an example:
In this case, the elected rep voted nay on HR1 - Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, matching 22 of 25 of their verified constituents on United.
This can bring much needed transparency and accountability to our legislative process.
Can we create an overall score?
We want to make it easy for everyone to know how well their elected legislators are representing their constituents.
Per bill counts is a good start, but we want something even easier for the typical busy American.
So we’ll combine all the bills together into a single score for each legislator.
For example: “This legislator votes with their constituents 74% of the time.”
We’re adding up all the legislators’ votes with & against their district, across all bills.
Bills that get more votes from constituents are automatically weighted greater than those that attract less attention.
There’s still a big issue: these scores only represent the people already signed up and verified on United.
We still have a long way to go before everyone’s joined. Until then, our earliest adopters won’t necessarily be a representative sample of the electorate at large.
If United is dominated by one group, it would be too easy for people to dismiss these scores.
But liquid democracy is too big an idea to let that deter us.
So we’re going one step farther.
Grading on a curve
We want to encourage our legislators to listen to their constituents.
So we’ll take their all-time score, and grade legislators against each other, on a curve.
Those who most listen to their constituents will get an A+. Those who most ignore their constituents will get an F.
See the chart to the right for the specific breakdowns by percentile.
And we can do this for each party independently. Republicans separate from Democrats. This means that any red vs blue bias on United gets cancelled out.
We’ll update these grades in real-time, creating a permanent accountability record.
Divide and Conquer
Too often the message from politicians sounds like:
“The other side are all crooks and liars. Vote us into office, or the consequences will be apocalyptic.”
But this same story is being told on both sides. Good vs evil; us vs them.
Even if they sincerely start out with the best of intentions, our politicians are incentivized to divide us, to gain more power. Although they never admit it, the Republicans need the Democrats, and the Democrats need the Republicans.
Demonizing the other side is the #1 motivating tactic. It’s a vicious cycle we’re stuck in.
But now, the story can change.
Grading our elected legislators is the first step in turning the tables around.
And by grading on a curve, elected legislators can become more motivated to one-up each other, even within their own party.
They ought to do their best to represent their constituents as a whole, the way we actually want to be represented.
United lets you vote directly on legislation, just like you’re a Member of Congress.
Since few of us can vote on every bill, United also lets you select personal proxies for when you don’t vote directly. Empower the people you trust to help represent your voice.
Every vote cast and proxy chosen gets us one step closer to a truly representative Congress.
So join us. Sign up today, if you haven’t already.