Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Let's Not Secede---Let's Experiment with Democracy.
I have noticed that since the 2012 election cycle has been over that there has been renewed talk about secession. This interests me not because I am a proponent of secession. I am not. I am however a proponent of democracy and I believe in participatory democracy. I suspect the noise about secession has roots in peoples' disappointment over the results of this past election which I personally believe in the most important election of modern America since the election of 1932. There are several impediments to democracy right now not the least of which is the size of our Nation. The 2010 census tells us that there are more than 360 million of us. When this system was designed there were fewer than five million of us and two million of us were owned by some small percentage of the remaining three million. They certainly weren't permitted to vote, even if they gained the benefit of manumission. Women were not permitted to vote by any of the thirteen original members of the Union. People (men) who paid no taxes and who owned no property were not permitted to vote. We have seen over the last year as we prepared for this past election that we cannot seen to govern ourselves with 18th century technology in our electoral system.
There have been heinous attempts to cure non-existent problems such as 'voter impersonation' with laws that have the effect of depriving people of what no one can deny is a fundamental right, the right to vote. There have been restrictions on one thing that might help, early voting and voting by mail. Some states such as Oregon and Washington have eliminated old fashioned 'go to the polls and vote' system in favor of a one hundred percent vote by mail system. Vermont has a system of town meetings the decisions of which have the force of law.
We have the technology to conduct elections electronically and the means to guarantee that no can subvert the election by surreptitious tinkering around with the electoral system. Smaller communities like the one I live in could easily enact a system of town meetings for self governance. The city of Los Angeles in years past experimented with smaller neighborhood councils and even the judicial council of California which runs our statewide judicial system experimented with locally based small claims courts. We need to think about this stuff. We could certainly have small test areas for a new process of democratically governing ourselves. It will cause no harm and may even be beneficial.