A “PLAN B” WHEN CONGRESS DOESN’T REPRESENT
NOTE: Sen.Gravel’s project (below) has stalled, but you can subscribe to our occasional news, upper right. There’s lots of good information on direct democracy below, and much more in my article Why Bernie Sanders Should Put Direct Democracy at the Top of our Agenda Gravel’s way of getting National Ballot Initiatives is still valid -and ANYONE could try it:
How we’re getting Better and NATIONAL Ballot Initiatives
Led by former US Senator Mike Gravel, the National Initiative empowers us to check and balance representatives, similar to ballot initiatives in 24 States, but at all levels from local to national and with major improvements. It gives us a “Plan B” whenever representatives don’t represent us. (Do perpetual wars and debt, domestic spying and bailouts for criminals represent you??) Direct democracy like this is both a strategy and a goal of the Occupy and other movements worldwide.
People tried to get this power from Congress, both in 1907 and 1977, with no success. Gravel adopted the Founders’ solution: rather than beg the existing 13 Legislatures to ratify the Constitution, the Founders had delegates of The People ratify the Constitution at the Constitutional Conventions. James Madison said “The people were in fact, the fountain of all power, and by resorting to them, all difficulties were got over.” (His 2nd response in the 1787 Debate)
For 10 years, from 2002 until 2012, Gravel resorted to you to read and vote to ratify the National Initiative, but never got enough attention and votes, to make real the promise of “government by the people.” The National Initiative consists of the brief Democracy Amendment and the more detailed Democracy Act.
Real Leaders Agree
- The Founders would agree! George Washington said “The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government.” More Founders’ quotes.
- America’s best Constitutional expert agrees. As Yale’s Akil Reed Amar says in
Popular Sovereignty and Constitutional Amendment “We the People of the United States have a legal right to alter our government–to amend our Constitution–via a majoritarian and populist mechanism akin to a national referendum, even though that mechanism is not explicitly specified in Article V.”
- Our endorsers agree: Patch Adams to Howard Zinn “Participation, that’s what’s going to save the human race.” -Pete Seeger
- The Economist Magazine agrees: in 17articles!
This vote is no poll. It’s as legal as the conventions which ratified the Constitution. Senator Gravel keeps your email, registered address, etc., with your vote so it can be verified, but will share this data ONLY with the government when ratification is complete: when more than half the people who voted in the previous Presidential election vote for the Initiative. You can change your vote at any time until then. This will take several years.
Why ballot initiatives?
- Initiatives put the people in the drivers seat. Responsibility brings more responsible people: more people vote in States with initiatives. In Switzerland, national initiatives since 1891 result in the highest newspaper readership in the world. The mental health benefits are incalculable.
- US states with much initiative use are happier, new research shows!
- Initiatives are competition for legislators. The National Initiative will break the monopoly Congress has on national legislative power.
- People are less swayed by money than representatives are. This study and book show that people favor “grassroots” initiatives over “big money” initiatives while the Associated Press shows Congress usually votes the way big money wants. Buying Congress is the world’s best investment, paying off at 1000 to 1 or more. See what jailed lobbyist/bribesman Jack Abramoff says in this Washington Post article (3rd paragraph).
- “No one misunderstands the public as much as its representatives.” See this study from the U. of Maryland
- When legislators make mistakes they cover them up –to protect their careers. Citizens lack the coverup incentive but have incentive to fix mistakes: regular people suffer more than the privileged. Thomas Jefferson said “The will of the majority is the natural law of every society and the only sure guardian of the rights of man; though this may err, yet its errors are honest, solitary and short-lived.”
- Large, diverse groups of independent people make better decisions. The award-winning book The Wisdom of Crowds shows how and why.
- Even animals practice democracy! NY Times article
Excellent documentary on direct democracy:
- More deliberation: Randomly-selected “Deliberative Committees” would hold hearings, take expert testimony, and negotiate amendments. Their reports would be disseminated by all media. Oregon is now using the similar Citizen Initiative Review
- Easier: Initiatives could qualify by poll, as well as by petition: if a majority polled want to vote on an initiative, they get to.
- Less influence of money, by allowing only individual contributions to initiative campaigns. No corporate or union donations. The Deliberative Committee reports seen everywhere would make big-money ad campaigns much less important.
|“We want saints and gurus and leaders and heroes because we are lazy. We think they have done all the work, and all that we have to do is just to follow them. You know, when you follow somebody, you’re not only destroying yourself, but the other whom you follow.” -Krishnamurti
Who really likes democracy? A tale of 4 Udalls -our Senator from Colorado, his brothers and late mother.
Why has Vote.org’s founder, previously happy-go-lucky entertainer Evan from Heaven, spent 20 years promoting better and national ballot initiatives? See here.
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