I recommend everyone to research and look up participatory politics. I think it deals with the problems that are being discussed here and offers a very realistic alternative to representative democracy.
On Sat, Oct 22, 2011 at 1:02 PM, Richard Machado <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I understand the point. And representative democracy does have very clear advantages over direct democracy. This is of course, is just the basis for a reasoned debate, a debate about an issue which we long supposed as a nation was over and done with and supported by every one. But I never got a chance to vote on that, nor have I got to hear from my fellow citizens about how they feel about this issue and what they think the possible pros and cons are of every option. I don't think this issue is simple, nor does it have an easy answer, I only provide my ideas for how to go about fixing the many problems our political sphere is entrenched in. I think direct democracy deserves a fair looking at, even if it is completely impractical, because it is very supportive of many of my principles, and I think may also be of many of the principles on which this country was theoretically founded. Like the principles of equality, and fairness; every citizen have equal voting share in the government, is another potential principle which may be more widely expressed within a direct democracy.
On the note of possible direct democracy systems: Systems like GAs, as they stand, work extremely well on a small scale, with let's say as many as 100 people. Let's say also that each person was a veritably registered citizen, and there was a way for all such assemblies nation-wide and have the decisions of such discussionary bodies tallied up and voted on by the whole of the citizenry present probably via some internet service.
- People have work:
- Very true. People work very hard, but in return they already have no time to participate in the government of our land. Votes aren't really participation, because once representatives get into office, there is almost no recourse on checking that delegates rein for another 2-6 years. The model of direct democracy would make it necessary for us to rethink our priorities in terms of working 80% of one's time doing some work which probably is not very fulfilling to the worker. Or, spending more time with one's family, with one's community and/or participating directly into the process of helping the family and community with political involvement, and as making those or other important values more accessible for people to enjoy, as a way of getting more done of what society needs, more done of what people need, and more done of what communities need. This sort of values shift would be important in making us all happier people. And the debate is then, what is the value of community and family over working for a company, or participating in the economy as it exists now? And how could we transform our system of economy to better handle these other needs of Humanity. Questions like Could we as a society provide for ourselves and still be very free to live with the freedom--such as freedoms to live life the way one wants to instead of the way it is forced by society for one to behave and live.
- People have other priorities:
- Also, absolutely true. But in a direct democracy one doesn't have to participate. The important part for me is that one has the option to be part of the decision-making if one chooses, and it is encouraged, since that would the culture of that democracy. Which I would argue is intrinsically better than the culture of Representative democracy, which is basically, vote or not vote it doesn't really matter, and for 95% of the year I don't give a shit about politics or geopolitical events, local or state events, and my sole source of info isn't other citizens, but media companies which are paid to show us only certain images and ideas under the guise of true diversity of ideas. And I'm not saying this is how anyone in particular lives, I just know that many people participate in this way, which is a culture that is completely un-representative of people, and uninspiring to people. Nor does it demand anything from the citizen other that consumption and taxes. Votes aren't even required. That type of system in my mind is completely destined for failure because there is no inherent culture allowed or encouraged by the model that we currently have in the USA.
- Lots of Decisions & Information:
- This is also completely true, but one of the big reasons I would choose direct democracy over representative democracy is because of the discouragement of knowledge gaining that it presents. It says that "there are too many complex issues for the citizenry to deal with, too much information to process, you guys should just let us professional congress people handle it all." Which I can never buy. Not as a studying professor. That sort of outlook is bleak in terms of its expectations of our fellow citizens and their capability to think for themselves, their capability to learn things that are difficult, and most of all, the expectance of our citizens to actually pay attention in school, the expectance for schools to actually teach something worth learning, and the expectance of the citizen to find it his or her duty to get a better and more complete view of the world all the time, so that they can provide insightful input into the discussion of the country and its policies. That is the most important thing to me. All too often I hear how stupid Americans are, when I know for a fact they are not stupid. They are overly accepting of not knowing enough, they aren't challenged to learn, they aren't challenged to actually take up the responsibilities of living in a free nation, which is to constantly stay vigilant and informed and involved. Such principles are not taught to American children so they don't show their full potential. But I know better. I've seen the immense potential of humanity, and Americans are humans too. We are greater than the boxes of limitations that we put on ourselves. If we expect more of ourselves we will get more, and in my opinion, that is the truth. Because, to me, it is our fault for allowing our country to go to shit. We didn't care enough, we were not involved enough and we did not know enough about our own history to see that we were repeating the very worst parts of it.
- Implicit Delegation:
- This is the type of problem that is a systemic problem of people and social structures themselves rather than of the governmental construct of a direct democracy, which I think, are perfect forums for allowing for such issues to be solved. And because implicit actually means that the person or party has no power at all, and that it is only assuming such powers, the power is usually assumed (and taken seriously) by those with lots of strong social connections. But with very clearly defined rules on what can govern and what can't govern in a direct democracy, such things can be dealt with by ignoring such claims (because it holds no actual weight) or if the governance of such a social structure oppresses other people unwilling to comply, such practices can be classified as criminal and dealt with in a manner similar to that. But this is something that can be solved I think, with some minds working together.
IMO, I disagree with the main point. Sorry, but I believe some form
of representative democracy is essential. In large governments it is
impossible to be involved in every decision. This is especially true
if one has a full-time job, or other time-consuming responsibilities
that preclude full-time devotion to governance. We must delegate some
decision-making, it is only practical.
I cannot make it to every GA, and certainly not every working group
meeting. That means that I have no voice when I am not present, and
those who are able to be present full-time have a greater voice. I
disagree with that. Even if you were able to create some perfect
online system for decision-making people would not have the time to
study every problem and make an informed decision. I'm sorry, but
that's just the truth, IMO. Direct democracy only works for small
projects, but beyond a certain size one cannot escape delegation of
some form. We are currently seeing that in OWS, and I think we should
honestly admit that at some level delegation is required, instead of
resolutely claiming "block any delegation." If we admit that some
form of delegation is inevitable, then we can work on appropriate
checks and balances to make sure delegation is fair and not
corrupting. If we don't explicitly acknowledge the issue, then
implicit delegation is bound to creep up. In fact, it already has.