The idea behind Carolina Reorg is very simple: instead of hoping that politicians represent the wishes of their electorate, Carolina Reorg seeks to guarantee it by creating a contract that politicians can tailor to their own particular philosophical beliefs. The contract consists of nine provisions. If the politician approves, the politician must:
-- Keep his or her campaign promises, which have been previously expressed as specific, measurable objectives with timetables for action;
-- Vote against legislation that puts the voters deeper in debt (balanced budget);
-- Vote for legislation mandating a minimum time period for public review of legislation;
-- Vote against any sell-off of government assets without voter approval;
-- Limit the number of years he or she serves in office (term limits);
-- Approve a certain percentage of citizen-generated legislative initiatives;
-- Obey financial ethics provisions;
-- Obey disclosure provisions.
It is important to note that the politician need not approve all of these provisions. So, politicians in "liberal" districts might approve the provision for citizen-generated legislative initiatives, whereas politicians in "conservative" districts might disapprove the provision.
Because of this ability of the politician to tailor his contract to his district, the contract is completely non-partisan, but there is one definite result that will accrue from the contract; the ability of special interest groups and political action committees to control politicians behind the scenes will be greatly reduced, especially if the citizen-generated legislative initiative provision is chosen.
In October 2010, we sent a copy of this contract over 400 North Carolina politicians. As you might expect, the vast majority of the responses were negative. We even received numerous negative responses from Republican politicians, even though the Republicans themselves introduce the idea of a contract back in 1994. Of course, the "contract with America", as it was known, was not a true contract, and consisted primarily of partisan flanks. In addition, the signers of the contract did not have the right to disapprove provisions and tailor their own political philosophy to the District.
"I'm not interested in being puppeteered by an unseen and unelected group."
Our response to him was simple: if you are a politician who is member of either the Democratic or Republican parties, that is exactly the current state of affairs, unfortunately.
As we noted to him, take a look at the party line votes in Washington: do you really believe that the 435 U.S. Representatives, if they truly represented their districts, would have their votes align exactly with all the members of their party when the wishes of the voters in the district were to the contrary? Yet this happens over and over again in Washington. So who's pulling the strings? Not the voters!
Unfortunately for the concept of "democracy," as the American Republic is often mistakenly referred to, many of the individuals who are creating the agenda for the Democratic and Republican parties are unseen and unelected, and because the politicians who are members of the parties are obligated to toe the party line if they want to be nominated by the party again and receive campaign funds, they will march to the beat of an invisible drummer, leading them to a continually recurring "party" to which the American public has been all-too-often uninvited.
Then, of course, we have the unseen and unelected people who contribute billions of dollars to politicians every election cycle (who have most certainly exerted undue influence), not to mention the tens of thousands of lobbyists over the years prowling the halls of Congress looking for politicians they have not even voted for to throw them a legislative bone or two.
We are disturbed that so many of our politicians are currently being puppeteered by unseen and unelected groups, and so we have decided to create a highly visible (not unseen) contract that will return control of these politicians to the voters of the district, and not parties located elsewhere.
By 2012, we hope to have dozens, and hopefully hundreds of North Carolina politicians who have agreed to sign some version of this contract. If so, look for major changes ahead in United States elections . . . and bring the idea to your state!!