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Steven Kull, founder and president of Washington, D.C.-based Voice of the People, makes a point while explaining a new Citizen Cabinet that he said will provide legislators with a clearer indication of what constituents are thinking.

Local residents to be test case for Citizen Cabinet

Residents of Oklahoma's Fourth Congressional District are among people in three states whom Voice of the People will use as a test case in their argument for a Citizen Cabinet.

Steven Kull, founder and president of Washington-based Voice of the People, was in Lawton last week to explain the process that he says will bring everyday citizens back into the legislative process by providing a direct pipeline between constituents and the legislators who represent them. Kull said Oklahoma's Fourth Congressional District was selected, in part, because Fourth District U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, and his staff have shown strong interest in the proposal from Voice of the People, which also counts former U.S. Rep. James Jones, D-Oklahoma, among its advisory board members.

Simply put, the idea is to produce a base of residents who reflect the demographics of their districts and states, then pose questions to them on topics of current interest and let those residents work through a process to reach consensus, with the results to be provided to members of Congress as they are making decisions.

Kull said the cabinet is a direct response to the overwhelming belief among Americans that there is a strong disconnect between Washington, D.C., and citizens.

"There are some real gaps," he said, noting the idea is to develop methods to improve communications by having residents go through the same process that policymakers face: hearing both sides of an argument, then making a decision based on those facts.

According to Voice of the People, residents selected for the process will respond to an issue online, where they will be briefed by experts and congressional staff from both parties, then weigh the arguments and learn about the policy options actually on the table and make a choice from among a menu of policy options. Another option would be to go through a more in-depth process that requires making trade-offs (crafting a budget, for example).

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