Saturday, February 27, 2016

Technology Could save Our Democacy

If there is one clear message in this presidential campaign season, it is that a vast majority of Americans feel current government is not representing their interests. As a result, we have great discontent which is represented on both sides of the political scene. And we have polar opposites representing the discontent on each side of equation.
At the end of this election season we are going to have more of the same discontent no matter which side wins. We're still going to have a large portion of our population feeling that they are not represented- their voices are not heard. This "great experiment" of democracy is failing. This next election will not fix it.
It's not because our founding fathers failed us in establishing a framework that was brilliant. They were determined to build a government that guaranteed our representation. The House of Representatives was established in a manner to allow for population growth. The Senate would provide balance. The Executive Branch would have sufficient power to deal with international affairs but the Congress could intercede if deemed they overreached. And the Judicial Branch was established to ensure that the democracy - popular but misguided overreach by any branch - did not destroy the long term success based on the constitution. They provided a brilliant framework.
In those early days - the first 100 years - of our democracy, our representatives were not out of reach of most every day citizen. It was possible, even normal, to make an appointment with a Congressman or even the President and expect to be heard. There are many accounts of President Lincoln meeting with ordinary citizens - answering letters of ordinary citizens - even during the civil war.
Compare the number of citizens now to the number of representatives in early days of our democracy. It is simply not possible for our representatives to directly hear us all. Meanwhile, at some point in time, there was a great transition from "representative" to full time politician. In those early years, our representatives did not depend upon government salaries to perform their duties. They were statesmen who served while earning their living through other means. Now "politician" is actually a full time job.
Debates about money, influence and corruption are not new and have been with us since the early days. Study the political debates between Hamilton and Jefferson. But we are, indeed, at a great crossroad where the voice of the people is quite distant from the actual decisions of governance and I believe, the very survival of this "great experiment" is at stake.
This election - no matter which way it goes - will not change that. As citizens, we need to feel we have a greater voice. Voting in every primary and every election will not change that. It's not enough. We need to feel - to know - that our elected officials are hearing us. We need to enhance our democracy. We need to use the tools available today to do what our founding fathers envisioned. We need to bridge the gap.
We have the technology to do that. How do you want your tax dollars spent? Your representative should know that and he or she should be obligated to vote in accordance with the electorate's desire.
They should be accountable for every vote they take on our behalf. Every registered voter should have a unique sign on and we should send them our vote on every bill in front of them. If they fail to vote in accordance with the electorate input 90% of the time, they are immediately recalled and a new representative is elected.
At that point it becomes our responsibility to become involved and educated. Voting and participation in our governance should not be an annual event. It should be a regular part of our daily lives because it affects our daily lives. The Executive Branch and the Judicial Branch are still in place to ensure that the populace does not vote outside of constitution and outside of the overall interests of the country.
This election should be sending a clear message to Congress that the American people are not happy with the way things are being done. Let's demand a change that will hold them accountable. Let's be part of the change we want. Let's make our government truly "WE THE PEOPLE". We are paying for it!!!!

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