Co-Founder Loren Miner recently submitted a Good Idea suggesting we upgrade our federal government toward the truest form of democracy—the “direct” democracy. That’s where We the People vote directly on the issues that are important to us.
I believe this suggestion has considerable merit for two reasons.
First, when our country began over 200 years ago, from a practical point of view it was difficult to establish a “direct” democracy because you couldn’t quickly
• Get everyone together
• Exchange accurate information, and
• Give everyone an opportunity to be heard and vote.
So the founders created a substitute—a “representative” democracy—where we elected others to representative our interests in the federal government.
However today, the practical reasons for the less democratic “representative” democracy no longer exist. With modern communication technologies, we Americans can now
• Get together quickly
• Exchange accurate, complete and intelligible information, and
• Give everyone an equal fair opportunity to be heard
Indeed we Americans today are also far more literate, educated, informed, intelligent, sober and easy to get along with (due to modern medications) than we Americans were 200 years ago.
Second, a “representative” democracy is based on the belief that the representatives can be trusted to serve the interests of their constituents.
Yet today, the fact is the vast majority of Americans do not trust their elected representatives to represent their constituents. The vast majority believes
• Members of Congress give priority to special interests, lobbyists, party leaders and campaign contributors before they give priority to their own constituents (66%)
• The decisions of elected officials are based on the needs of those making the major campaign contributions (65%)
• Lobbyists bribe members of Congress (81%) , and
• Members of Congress can’t be trusted to tell the truth (65%)
So, for these two reasons, there is no longer any reason to remain a “representative” democracy. However, rather than shifting over to a complete direct democracy, I suspect most Americans would prefer some sort “hybrid-direct” democracy where the people retain authority over some areas and leave the rest for their elected representatives.
One suggestion is to:
1. Give the People the Authority to Directly Propose and Enact Legislation – especially on matters where Congress has failed to act (For example, Wall Street reform, fiscal responsibility, energy policy, health care, prescription drugs, climate change and war making (and ending), and
2. Give the People the Authority to Overrule Congress – when a large percentage of Americans disagree with a decision of Congress.
I’m interested in your thoughts and opinions on this. A specific Proposal may be upcoming shortly.
Blair Henry, Co-Founder
A more complete copy of this blog entry, with supporting endnotes, can be found shortly in the We the People Library at http://wethepeople.futurenetwork.tv/library.