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Direct representation should be adopt for legislatures

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/4/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,020 times Debate No: 51619
Debate Rounds (5)
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Direct representation or proxy representation is a proposed form of representative democracy where Each Representative's vote is weighted in proportion to the number of Citizens who have chosen that Candidate to represent Them, in contrast to conventional forms of representative democracy such as the Winner-take-all system, where the Winner of a plurality of votes in a given district, party, or other grouping of Voters goes on to represent all Voters in that group, or the proportional representation system where the number of Representatives allotted to each party or political faction is in rough proportion to the number of Voters supporting each faction.

Direct representation is an optimal compromise between pure direct democracy and conventional representative democracy, as legislative decisions will more closely reflect the pure will of the People yet will still be carried out by a "wise" group of informed and accountable elected Representatives. Direct representation removes the problem of district gerrymandering because the balance of power in a legislative body will be precisely the same regardless of where district lines are drawn. It also avoids disenfranchisement of slight minorities in cases where the electorate is split nearly evenly in its choice for representation, yet the preferred Representative of only one faction must be chosen to represent the entire Electorate of a party or district.

Unlike direct democracy, Voters would not vote on legislation Themselves but rather elect Representatives to perform legislative duties on Their behalf, thus reducing the amount of time and energy the average Citizen has to spend thinking about and voting on specific legislation.

Unlike representation determined by plurality or majority vote, every Voter in an election district has Their vote represented in the legislature regardless of whether or not Their choice won a plurality or majority of votes.

Unlike proportional representation, each Voter votes for a specific representative to represent Them, rather than a political party. This provides Voters a wider range of nuance in political platforms to choose from, rather than simply having to choose between a relatively small number of "one-size-fits-all" parties. It also means even the smallest interests can be heard.

Every vote is equal to every other vote.

States' and districts' political power is proportional to the number of their Residents Who vote. This approach is more fair than representation by population because those in the population Who cannot or choose not to vote do not subsequently lend Their weight to Those in the state or district Who can and do. Hence, a state with a high Child-to-Adult ratio will not give each Voter more representational weight than a state with fewer Children per Adult, for example. The same is true for other Residents who are ineligible to vote, such as non-Citizen legal Residents, unauthorized Migrants, Prisoners, and convicted Felons. However, if this approach were considered unfair a scaling factor equal to the ratio of the total population of a state/district to the population of eligible Voters could be applied to Each Representative's voting weight.

Because the majority of Voters in a district cannot be shut out of the process as in some plurality elections (where the winning Candidate falls short of majority support), coalition-building among non-plurality-Winners is possible and effective, both generally and on specific issues.


While direct representation may seem like an ideal form of democracy, it has its fundamental flaws.
1. It will involve more procedures and slow down the entire decision-making progress. The Congress is already inefficient as it is, further procedure that will involve careful calculation of EACH member will be time consuming.
2. Democracy is all about representation of all groups. In the system of direct representation, minority voices still will not be heard. Given that a minority representative was elected, his/her power will be limited when compared to that of a white representative because less people voted for that minority representative. Thus, he/she already has less power when he/she is on the field before he/she can speak. This will lead to isolation of the minorities because they have less power from the majority. It will also lead to a polarization of opinions between those two because of that lack of incentive to compromise.
3. If all voters have their choice represented in the legislature, it will lead to mayhem. With so many groups in the legislature, the public will not have the incentive to compromise, which will lead to a highly polarized society. For instance, I am for the Health Care and I have a representative in there representing my interests. Joe is semi-for the Health care and believes only a certain group should get free health care. Susan is also for the Health care but she believes the government shouldn't give it to the elderly. We would all have people representing our interests in the legislature and we don't need to compromise because we do. However ,if only one representative in there is for the health care. That representative would have to compromise all of our interest in order to get all of our votes. In other words, a representative will deviate towards the middle because it wants to represent all the interests and get reelected. If a representative can get elected by representing a highly adamant force that refuses to compromise, it probably would and we would have gridlock. The sad truth is, compromise is needed to achieve an overall goal. The other sad truth is, if each representative can get elected by being highly polarized, he/she will compromise. Thus, no change happens.
Debate Round No. 1


1Alyssa, I appreciate You accepting this challenge.

On point #1, if the only “more procedures” which would “slow down the entire decision-making progress” of concern are the “careful calculation” of Each Representative’s votes, that data can be easily automated. Currently, in the United States House of Representatives, the institution which I reference as “the existing model”, in order to vote, Each Representative takes Their official congressional identification, places it into a voting station and presses a button indicating “Aye” or “Nay”; the voting station reads from the identification, the identity of the Representative and records the vote electronically; to accommodate direct representation, the information stored on the identification could also include the relative voting weight of the respective Representative and the voting machinery could easily adjust accordingly.

Regarding point #2, minority voices will indeed be heard and will be given weight proportionate to that of the Voters; the “limited” power concern raised is actually experienced now under what We might call the “Winner take all” system. Presume, for a moment, Americans all voted along racial lines: Whites only elect Whites, Blacks only elect Blacks, Latinos only elect Latinos. Under direct representation, One would expect ~17% of the votes to go to latino Representatives, ~13% of votes to go to black Representatives, ~5% of votes to go to asian/pacific island Representatives, 1.2% of votes to go to american indian/alaskan native Representatives, and ~63% of votes to go to white Representatives. Meanwhile, under the Winner take all system, We currently see only 6.9% of Representatives are Latinos, 8.1% of Representatives are Blacks, 2.4% of Representatives are Asians/Pacific Islanders, less than 0.5% of Representatives are American Indians/Alaskan Natives, and over 80% of Representatives are Whites. As such, the representation of minority populations can only be enhanced by direct representation.

Contrary to the assertion, incentives to compromise will not be lacking: if One is elected to the legislature in a direct representation system, Voters expect One to accomplish certain goals and, if those goals are not met, the One would more readily find Voters transferring Their votes to Someone Else, diminishing One’s influence in the legislature; if compromise is necessary and/or helpful to accomplishing those goals, One will have a good reason to compromise so as to keep Constituents satisfied. As a result, polarization will actually be less likely than now, where One only needs satisfy a majority or sometimes only a plurality of Voters in order to retain the same influence in the legislature.

With respect to point #3, the premise seems faulty: in no democratic republic is the “public” expected to compromise; only Legislators are expected to do so and, as I note above, direct representation provides Legislators more incentive to compromise and not less.

As We have seen with the United States in the last few years, Representatives can and, to a sizable degree, do represent “a highly adamant force that refuses to compromise” and America has had gridlock as a result. Cf., “showdowns” over the debt ceiling and the recent shutdown of the federal government. Conversely, under direct representation, instead of asserting directly or indirectly a mandate to represent an entire electoral district, Representatives will only have a mandate from the Voters selecting Them as Representative and then only to the extent of the said specific Voters. Additionally, Representatives in this new system will not be able to turn Voters having preferred a different Candidate into “political hostages” because said Voters will have sent different Representatives, though They may have less voting weight, undercutting the ability to remain stubborn in the manner described.

For example, if Izzy Idiot currently holds the only seat from Wyoming, Izzy is going to try to assert just as much influence in the congress if 100% of Voters approve or only 50%+1 Voters approve. Meanwhile, in a direct representation system, the state might send 4 Representatives and, if voting weight in the congress is proportionate to the fraction votes received, the republican Representative might have only 65% of the influence Izzy has under the current system, the democratic Representative might have only 20% of the influence Izzy has, the independent Representative might have only 13% of the influence Izzy has, and the “Everybody Else” Representative might have only 2%, resulting in a wider mix of voices and views being considered and the interests and desires of the People more accurately reflected. As noted, Each of the Representatives will have increased incentives to compromise and achieve goals.

The assertion “if each representative can get elected by being highly polarized, he/she will compromise” seems contradictory to the rest of the argument made.



I acknowledge my opponent"s knowledge in the subject matter.
Point 1:
I acknowledge my opponent"s point.
Point 2:
Regarding my opponent"s rebuttal to point 2, I believe he may have missed my original intention. According to the definitions he drew for direct representation, each delegate"s votes should be in accordance to the number of voters who have voted for him/her. In other words, for example, a popular delegate will be able to cast a vote worth three times as worthy as that of his less popular colleague.
Some delegates will start out at a legal advantage whereas others will be discriminated against. In Congress, all delegates should be treated equally. Otherwise, policy becomes skewed towards the already popular. Democracy is about representation of all, majority and minority alike. How exactly should Congress be any assistance to that sentiment if each delegate starts out on different grounds? How would it affect minority delegates when they know that the other delegates are not valuing their support right from the start?
A majority will be less likely to compromise their policies to benefit individual minority delegates constituents for there is not an incentive to do so as these minority individuals cannot repay adequately in terms of votes when needed. As a result, minorities will become excluded overall from the majority who will continue to make popular policies without concerning the minorities since approaching each minority delegate is not worthwhile. Congress, over time, will become polarized between minority and majority. That is exactly what we don"t need.
While direct representation may seem like an ideal political system that can serve to get many minorities into congress, it will not serve as a great means to allow them, once in congress, to have power for great change because they are usually at an inherent disadvantage when it comes to voter support. If so, how would this be any different from the Winner-takes-all system?
Point 3:
Once again, I believe my opponent have missed my point concerning point three. Assuming that a representative can be elected by appealing to only a certain , very secluded, very extreme population, which it can under direct representation, he/she will. THat will be the easy way out. Needless to say, such will not fuel compromise because the representative answers only to one small population. Once the main incentive for people to compromise their views is gone, they will feel less inclined to do so. As the country becomes further polarized, different interest groups are going to ask of different things to be done. In that case, gridlock might happen. Gridlock might leave the voters frustrated, however, the delegates will still not have the inherent interest to compromise because constituency interest from region to region has varied too far for the result to satisfy their individual constituencies.
The examples my opponent brought up concerning the debt ceiling and so on actually serve to prove as to why direct representation will lead to gridlock. As previously explained, direct representation encourages polarization of opinions. As important as it is for all opinions to be represented, the Winner Takes All system will do that to a degree that still allows for some efficiency in the country. As previously stated, in order to attain votes, the legislators often seek to combine interests of many interest groups.
It is impossible for a country as large as the United States to make everybody happy. However, that is essentially what direct representation is trying to acheive.THe most important decisions made in a country should, instead deviate towards the median. This way, policy will operate in a way that is sustainable for all. THe winner-takes-all system will allow for an earlier onset compromises for the legislator, especially, but also for the voters who will indirectly be participating in the compromising by choosing their desired legislators out of the pool of applicants. Direct representation will fuel the opposite. Thus, making it unpractical.

While voters may not ideally be expected to compromise, they are in reality. America cannot satisfy every single person, therefore, they have to compromise. However, if citizens loose that incentive to do so and elect someone radical and adamant in opinions, the country will find difficulty in establishing change.
Debate Round No. 2


After reflecting upon the last argument, I believe I found a key piece of information in need of highlighting: Voters not only want Representative which reflect Their views/interests but which succeed in making government work. This point will become increasingly important to remember going forward.

While I understand and appreciate the concern regarding more popular Representatives citing more votes, this characteristic is a deliberate feature and not a problem because the more popular Representative is, by the design of the system, representing a larger segment of the populace. In other words, more People have chosen this particular Individual to represent Them and Their interests in the legislature and, if We want the legislature to accurate reflect the People and Their interests, such an imbalance between People with positions of varying popularity is both expected and desired. To do otherwise is to deny the People Their preferred choice of representation.

Currently, the Winner-take-all system causes certain Voters and Their interests to be completely shut out of the legislative process unless They can muster close to a majority of a legislative district. Even then, the choice of the minority Voters is denied in every district, giving said Voters zero voice in the legislature or only a voice when politically convenient for the Incumbent. Meanwhile, with a direct representation system, Every Voter will have Their preferred choice of Representative in the legislature with a degree of legislative influence proportionate to the popularity of said Voter’s views/interests.

No Representative will be “discriminated against”. Some Representatives simply will not have been chosen by the People to represent Them. However, Every Representative will have the same proportion of influence with respect to Voter support: If a Representative has been chosen by twice as many Voters to represent Them, that Representative will have twice as much influence and should because They represent twice as many Voters.

The assertion, “In Congress, all delegates should be treated equally,” ignores the fact Representatives are treated equally under this system: Everyone receives as much influence as the Voters give Them; no more; no less.

The concern about policy skewing “towards the already popular” is a curious one, especially in light of the assertion, “Democracy is about representation of all, majority and minority alike”, as if the two concepts were mutually exclusive. The Oxford English Dictionary includes amongst its definitions of “democracy”, “control of an organization or group by the majority of its members”, a definition I suggest is the commonly held one. While good governance might require a balancing of majority and minority interests, no conflict exists between democracy and when “policy becomes skewed towards the already popular”. Perhaps the concern is the 50%+1 will run roughshod over the 50%-1? In that case a system of constitutional limitations on the actions of the legislature alleviates such concerns just as it does in the United States now. At the same time, this unease about “skewing” and popularity ignores the fact the Winner-take-all system already skews policy “towards the already popular”: Candidates campaign on policies X, Y, and Z, and, upon taking office, are expected to deliver; the only way They can take office is if Their proposals are popular or the proposals of Their Opponents are sufficiently unpopular.

Likewise, one party occasionally wins multiple districts by a little while losing fewer districts by a lot, resulting a majority party without majority support. Direct representation prevents that scenario.

Representatives in this system will certainly value the support of Other and be willing to compromise because no Representative will have sufficient popularity to pass legislation alone unless the Representative is just that good as to be an outstanding Servant of the People. In the United States, at the federal level, such a situation is also impossible because Representatives must be Residents of the state They represent. Therefore, Representatives will need to form coalitions and cooperate with Others, including Representatives with less influence, in order to achieve the goals the Voters want Them to achieve. Yet, even if a Representative could do so, why should the People having Their choice of Representative be undesirable?

The “majority-minority compromise” objection ignores the current system’s tendency for legislatures to often passing bills which the minority claims are “contrary to the will of the People”. As alluded to above, the inherent limitations of influence incentivize compromise and reciprocity because the more influential Representative is certainly going to need the assistance of less influential Representatives later.

Likewise, sufficiently small enough minorities are completely excluded from the current system and direct representation will give these minorities some say in legislation instead of the zero say possessed now.

The concern about a polarized congress suggests a forgetfulness with respect to the recent debt ceiling standoffs, the government shutdown, the hyperbolic rhetoric with respect to the health reform bill, to whether the cause of the increase in the federal government’s debt is from taxes being too low or spending being too high, to whether certain legislation will either put guns into the hands of Every Criminal or enable the government to confiscate all firearms everywhere. Yet, even absent such, the concerns are unwarranted because elections will become much more low key and much less vitriolic; Everyone will have Their Representative; in the most cynical scenario, the Representatives will be focused on amassing legislative influence; the only way to do so under direct representation is to show Voters You can meet Their needs, thereby picking up more influence slowly over time, resulting in less jarring election results; as a result, a less combative and more constructive atmosphere will exist in the legislature, reducing polarization.

The last paragraph of point 2 elides the difference between “less support” and “zero support”. To Someone in a political minority, this difference is not negligible and may be the only way to have One’s interests addressed.

Regarding point 3, as I have noted, the incentives to compromise will actually be enhanced, not diminished, because Voters do not choose Representatives only for the purpose of voicing Their views but also for the purpose of achieving certain goals and, if those goals are not met by the current Representative when an Alternate seems capable of meeting them, the Voters will draw support from the original Representative and add it to the Alternate; since only a rare set of Individuals in political office like to see Their influence decline, Representatives will place greater emphasis on cooperation and less on polarization.

Different interest groups already “ask of different things to be done” and gridlock still occurs. However, unlike the current system, where Representatives need only achieve a plurality/majority to stay in office and keep Alternatives out, direct Representatives will risk losing influence to said Alternatives with the guarantee said Alternatives will now be in office, even if only slight influence to begin with. Smart Representatives will then do whatever They can to broker deals between the interest groups and avoid gridlock, lest the Voters chip away at said Representatives’ influence. This incentive is independent of “region to region” variations and/or similarities: if a direct Representative wants to retain influence in the legislature, They will want to cooperate and compromise.

Therefore, direct representation leads to less polarization.

The allegations, “It is impossible … to make everybody happy,” and “that is essentially what direct representation is trying to acheive[sic],” suggest frustration and mischaracterize the proposal. While just because something is deemed “impossible” does not mean We should not try to get as close to it as possible, nothing in the proposal I put forth even suggests an attempt to “make everybody happy”. At no point did I make this claim. While I do say direct representation would allow for Everyone’s voice to be heard in the legislature and to have Their interests represented by the Person of Their choice, such does not mean I claim the proposal will “make everybody happy”.

The claims about where decisions should “deviate” have no basis in any political theory literature I have ever read. Nor does such “deviation” automatically translate into “policy … operating in a way that is sustainable for all”. In fact, this particular statement can be disproved with a thought experiment: suppose the political median says, “Everyone on one particular side of the political median should be murdered”; soon that median moves along the spectrum to result in almost continuous mass murder. Consistent application of this principle is, therefore, faulty. Likewise, a repetition of flawed claims, without showing how the perceived flaws do not exist, is not compelling.

The very idea of having the Voters compromise defeats one purpose of having Representatives in the first place: Voters choose Representatives to represent Their interests and for the Representatives to compromise in such a way the government functions while protecting said interests as much as possible. Under direct representation, if the Representatives do not meet both of these goals, Voters will readily and easily change the balance of power in a smooth and orderly fashion at election time, as They should be allowed.


1Alyssa forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


[As noted in the 'comments' section, I apologize if the formatting of My previous argument appears odd; it did not look this way when I typed it up.]

1Alyssa, having forfeited the previous round, I take it You are conceding the points I raise.


1Alyssa forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4


Well, ..., 1Alyssa appears to have conceded the argument as best as I can tell. At the very least, 1Alyssa has not contested My rebuttal. So, ..., yeah.


1Alyssa forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by xuinkrbin 7 years ago
If Anyone Else is seeing an argument in fixed width font, please say so. I do not recall the text looking the way it is displayed on My screen when I typed it up.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Wylted 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:10 
Reasons for voting decision: FF

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