YDR Insider

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A visit from Tim Potts of Majority Party of PA

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Government by opinion poll?

Don’t scoff until you hear Tim Potts out. He has an interesting idea that doesn’t appear to have been tried anywhere in the U.S. — or the world.

The co-founder of the Pennsylvania good government advocacy group Democracy Rising PA stopped by YDR this week to talk about his new project: The Majority Party PA.

First of all, it’s not really a party, per se. He’s not trying to create a new third party — like the Greens or the Libertarians.

It’s more like a party that members of other parties — Republicans, Democrats, etc. — can join simply by signing a pledge to follow the party’s agenda.

And what is that agenda?

Quite literally, it’s the agenda of the majority of Pennsylvanians.

The party would use reliable polling to determine settled opinion of a majority of state residents. Any polled issue that registers beyond a reasonable margin of error would become part of the party’s agenda, and state lawmakers who signed the pledge would be expected to vote the people’s will in the Legislature.

The Majority Party would issue report cards on lawmakers, noting how often their votes recognized the majority will of the people.

The idea is to bring to fruition the ideas of the “sensible center” rather than the rabid partisans of the either the left or the right.

Would he be able to find lawmakers or candidates willing to sign such a pledge?

Maybe. Maybe even some from York County, which many people mistakenly think is very conservative but which is actually more moderate, center-right.

We have some thoughtful lawmakers here who might see the value of eschewing hard-line partisan agendas and just do what most people want them to do.

Things like:

– Sell off the state liquor stores.

– Tax extraction of Marcellus shale gas and use the revenue statewide.

– Stop cutting state funding for public schools.

– Forget the misguided school voucher proposals kicking around in the state Capitol.

And so on.

There is reliable polling on all those issues that tells lawmakers what the majority wants.

Mr. Potts has enlisted respected pollsters such as Terry Madonna to serve on a polling advisory board to determine which polls meet the scientific validity standards.

Oh, and the group would not take positions on issues involving fundamental rights — speech, assembly, guns, etc.

But there are enough issues — such as legislative reform and integrity, term limits (most people want them), etc. — to make this effort relevant and could help cut a lot of legislative maneuvering and nonsense out of the equation.

Take a look at the group’s website and see what you think.

Mr. Potts just might be onto something here.