Voices: A Forum for Community Issues - submission:
"Citizen Patriots" Can Change it All
Jeffrey Abelson's commentary "Sending Electoral Apathy Into Exile" in the January 24, 2004 Voices section should be commended as the "act of a true citizen patriot." Indeed, our nation's future does depend "on an informed, involved citizenry. But how can we accomplish what is needed to save ourselves from ourselves in what has become a questionable future with so many roadblocks?
Most of what most people know about politics and government is what they see on television and read in newspapers, and most of what we see and read amounts to little more than the partisan hype and the political rhetoric of the chattering class. Fortunately, there are changes in the wind by means of the Internet, wherein many people are becoming more engaged and more informed by alternative media, and communicating with each other through Blogs, chat rooms and other Websites. Unfortunately, there are many activist, partisan Websites that only serve selfish political interests.
If the electorate is going to become more informed and involved, we must make serious changes in the political process and in government. California, which is replete with political strife and the gross incompetence of government, is ripe for such changes. Even though California has the reputation of being the nation's hotbed of voter initiatives, referendums and recalls, a major constitutional voter initiative is exactly what it's going to take to resolve the state's problems and provide for its citizens' future.
Therefore, what we need -- and what will serve as an example to other states as we often do -- is a constitutional amendment establishing a modified republic of nonpartisan direct representative democracy, elections and government with secure electronic voting networks connected to voter's homes -- something not possible prior to the advances of technology and the Internet. The proposed amendment would replace professional partisan politicians with professional nonpartisan government managers.
In other words, instead of having political actors chained to the stages of political parties, campaign contributors and the selfish interests of lobbyists and activists, we would elect well-compensated government managers -- much like city managers and county administrative officers -- to represent our interests and charged with the duties of truthfully and sufficiently informing us so that we can make informed decisions.
Most importantly, the proposed amendment would provide decision-making power to the voters to decide all matters of taxation and public policy, and it would leave the micro-managing of government to our government managers, who would be subject to confirmation or rejection by the voters every one or two years. If managers are doing their job, they stay in office. If they are not doing their job, they would be immediately replaced. The same would apply to the governor and all state-wide elective offices. And all elections and voter decision-making would be conducted over the secure voting networks, which would include the capability of voters communicating with each other and their elected representatives.
As a result, voter apathy would all but disappear because voters would know they had the power to decide the present and the future for themselves, their children and their grandchildren -- and it could all be done from the privacy and convenience of their homes,or established local voting centers if necessary.
To naysayers who insist that we have a republic, not a democracy, they must remember something important to us all. When politicians, power-brokers and extreme activists want our support, they call what we have a democracy. But they call what we have a republic when they don't want us to have our say. Truth is, what we have can be described as either a democratic republic or representative democracy, however, our democracy -- by whatever definition -- has been betrayed.
What we do need to survive in these increasingly complicated, troubling and dangerous times is to modify the republic to a more direct representative democracy where the voters decide what is important and how much government they want. What we don't need is the proliferation of corporate and campaign corruption, unrelenting political wars, government and bureaucratic empire-building, the continued decay of an education system that has robbed generations of students of their education, a two-party system that is turning into one, the continuous rise of personal power in our elected appointed officials, or media-driven chaos.
After all, we don't want to become a republic like the old Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or the People's Republic of China, or the so-called democratic/people's republics of the many dictator/authoritarian/totalitarian nations around the world (including what was Saddam Hussein's Iraq), do we?
Daniel B. Jeffs, founder
The Direct Democracy Center
Read The DDC Columnist's "Sure Cure For Voter Apathy"