26 January 2012

Direct Democray: an idea whose time as come (including an example of local Direct Democracy)

Representative democracy has been ‘hijacked’ by the One Percent. Our representatives do not represent us but multi-national corporations, special interest groups and the extremely wealthy. This statement can be verified any time a politician advocates a policy.  The evidence for this is overwhelming and cannot be denied.  One of the best solutions for this is to decrease the need for politicians entirely.  Direct Democracy is a way for the people to take back their government.

What is Direct Democracy?  Direct Democracy is the concept of placing decision-making with the citizens and not with representatives.  A concept opposed by the Founding Fathers, the elite at this time, and our present plutocracy.
The most common form of Direct Democracy is the referendum. This has limited impact on democracy as it still leaves the representatives in charge. It is also very difficult to organize a referendum and relies on extreme effort by the organizers to get it on ballots.  The representatives are very pleased that referendums challenging their power are often delayed or defeated by money from the PAC’s , controlled by the plutocracy. 

The Internet and associated communication modes have opened up a new vehicle for Direct Democracy which has not been fully explored.  Why can’t citizens vote directly on issues from the convenience of their homes?  There are always barriers put forth by those that oppose Direct Democracy.  The most common issue is security issues.  With the technology available today, it is possible to eliminate many of these issues.  In addition, it is very apparent that the present method of voting is subject to fraud and manipulation. 

The first test of using Direct Democracy would be on the local level.  It is not difficult to imagine a person getting on the Internet going to the city or municipality where they live and voting on numerous issues.  On this webpage, citizens could propose local legislation, have it discussed online and then put up before the citizens for a vote.  An administrative staff would be necessary for research on issues and for facilitating the actions.  These administrative staff could be recalled by the citizens if they were not performing well.

Let us go through a potential scenario.  A citizen, John Roberts, had witnessed a tragic accident at the corner of Maple and Oak in the fictional town of Hohumville.  It occurred to him that this accident could have been prevented by having a left turn lane and a left turn signal. He places this inquiry on the local discussion group.  There are responses from other citizens about this and their observations. In addition, the city’s staff respond and promise to do research on the issue.  They indicate that they will research this, make the data known and give their recommendation in two weeks.  In two weeks, they respond back on-line responding to the initial request and perhaps to other issues concerning this intersection that have been place on the discussion group.  Their conclusion in this case is was that the citizen was correct that there have been many accidents, including this one, that could be alleviated by a left turn lane and an exclusive left turn signal.  They draw up a resolution for this in concise language in accordance with their findings and place it on line for a vote for a specific day.  The day arrives and the vote is overwhelming for the placement of a left turn signal and exclusive left turn lane at the intersection of Oak and Maple.  The staff then looks into ways to fund this and reports back to the discussion group about this in a month. In this case, private citizens, including one generous donator,  has come forth with the necessary funding and they do not have to seek grants.  The project will start immediately and will be finished in a month.  The will keep the public informed by posting on the discussion group and will monitor it afterwards as to its effectiveness.
The above example may be fictional and simplistic, but it is a working example of how Direct Democracy might work. The concept of Direct Democracy can be further expanded to deal with any kind of issue that might arise in a local government.

This blog entry has been posted on both of my blogs: You can count me out (in) and The Chaotic, Fractal and Complex City.  Please keep in mind that these ideas are in draft form. I very much would appreciate comments.

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