A Repository of Trust
Having used the term Shadow Congress to mean a group of people who watch the government, I decided to google it a little. I discovered that there are some people advocating a direct democracy approach to government who use the term to describe what I would call the Body of Millions. Unelected citizens would monitor C-SPAN and vote directly on Congressional issues. C-SPAN would collect the votes and present Congress with our collective opinion on such items as fire suppression funding for ICBM sites and SEC recommendations for control of the derivatives market.
This is actually the exact opposite of what I had in mind. The presumed benefit of such an organization is already being provided, more accurately and expeditiously, by opinion polls. This Body of Millions would be a self-selected sample of people who have the time and inclination to obsess over obscure issues that they don't fully understand. Hardly representative of the People. It would, in time, become a sports-like partisan free-for-all as people lined up behind political celebs like Howard Dean or Karl Rove to push for the respective party lines. It would be a tremendous boost for the cable companies though, as people would be buying multiple accounts in order to vote early and often.
The purpose of any government, in my opinion, is to efficiently collect competent and insightful leaders and statesmen into an effective ruling group, a group that will honestly exercise exactly the necessary power to address the issues facing our country, with the least amount of disruption and partisan friction. The structure of the US government is an instance of Rule-of-Law that is carefully calibrated to prevent excessive and inappropriate use of this power. This is a good thing! But such a system is dangerously inflexible and slow to respond in crisis. The current configuration is excessively dependent on public opinion and vulnerable to disinformation. The Shadow Congress mechanism I am proposing is a top-down method of decreasing political distance, improving political honesty and increasing confidence in the government. Itwould provide the government with greater ability to sustain effective strategic policies, while at the same time being more accountable to the People.
The term Shadow Government as used in the US refers to 1) a semi-secret group of experienced executives sequestered into remote sites hardened against an attack that might destroy Washington, DC, 2) the loose-knit soft-money partisan attack confederation of the Democratic Party, headed by the nefarious Dr. So(ros) or 3) a UFO conspiracy theory.
In the UK, the term Shadow Government refers to the front-bench members of the Opposition, who are ready to take charge should the government change hands; also referred to as a Shadow Cabinet.
7/1/2005 12:52 PM