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See Also: Real Democracy in the Belly of the Beast, Summer 2001
I have made some comments already, but this reinforces my thoughts. Recall and referendum as they have been set up are flawed systems open to manipulation by the rich rather than universal rights made easily available to the people.
Electronic technology does not, in and of itself, insure a lack of vote fraud or voter disenfranchisment. It seemed to me that two separate ballots were printed for those Florida punch machines, one easily readable and aligned, the other set up to cause confusion, and that these latter were distributed to the predominantly Black and Jewish counties. Remember the election results for Buchanan in the liberal areas? There were also many comments from people in the rich communities and white areas who maligned the blacks for not being able to comprehend the simple ballots that had not confused them at all.
Voter registration should be automatic but not tied to jury duty. Voting methods should range from balloting on site, to electronic voting done in very transparent ways online, to mail-in systems with a consistent and thorough counting mechanism that only decides elections when the counting is done. Voter enfranchisment should be automatic and those challenged on site should have the right to vote until the dispute is settled against them at an election center or in court. Any mass disenfranchisment by computer list, as was engineered in Florida, should require full public notice well in advance.
And voting for representatives or parties should be made obsolete. George Washington in his farewell address, in addition to warning against a standing military and foreign entanglements, also rightly noted that policy decisions belong to "the people as a whole" and that political parties "put those decisions back into the hands of a few". Representatives can too easily be blackmailed, bullied, bribed or bulleted into compliance or submission. In a huge and complex society like this, they cannot possibly represent their own varied constituencies, nor do they try.
Democracy should not consist in winning control by majority rule, a party taking power and ignoring the 49% or less that have "lost". Democracy is a system whereby all those affected by a decision make that decision, and those not affected directly do not. First, we need to decentralize decisions to a much more local level, with only a few policies being state- region- or nation-wide. We must think globally when we act locally and think locally when we act globally.
Land and natural resources must become commonwealth again, at least in impact and use. The remaining commonwealth of electronic media must be taken back to assure a flow of information and real debate on issues to make democracy possible, and schools must be opened to a full debate on ideas and real history as well. Only an informed populace can make truly democratic decisions.
Straw polling issues and priorities in advance would allow for choosing a limited number to be considered each month (perhaps with some critical minority issues added into the mix of majority concerns), fully debated in open media, and then voted on in referendums or repeals. Registered voter lists could be culled monthly, choosing a demographically representative sample of the community involved, and required to serve that month as an electoral board to insure the processes. A rotating legal board could also be set up monthly to give a legal review of the Constitutionality and civil liberties issues around any given referendum or repeal, and these would be publicized prior to the vote.
A standard review appeal could be built in after 6 months to insure a bad policy was reversible once unseen consequences came clear, requiring perhaps a 2/3 straw poll to move it back to reconsideration. People would make bad decisions, but they would also reverse them sooner than this system ever will. Representatives would then be hired to carry out the popular will in transparent policy decisions, with citizen oversight, and recall options, as well as regular progress reports and open critiques.
People who have long opted out of voting for the "evil of two lessers" would then become empowered and interested in political participation because their votes would directly affect their own lives. Direct allocation of any personal taxation would also insure democratic rule, allowing each taxpayer to prioritize funding. This could be done two years ahead of actual budgeting to allow review of the resulting budget and referendum on reallocation to emergency or critically underfunded areas of a portion of the budget if necessary.
There is not a candidate running for office now that "represents" me, nor would I want one to, since I am not the whole of the electorate. Since the advent of radio and mass communication, and modern travel technology the need for a representative in these decisions became obsolete. In the times of the Constitution both travel and communication was made possible by a horse. A horse will not save us now, not even a white one. We have to re-envision our liberation and make a choice to take a different path.
Another Democrat in office will only delay the inevitable, and only slightly. We are on our way to Hell in a handbasket. The Republicans pop the champagne and party on the way down, helping the line along. The Democrats pass out tranquilizing pills and pull at what they say is a brake, but it seems only to be a small dragging weight. The elitists on all sides of the spectrum do not trust governance to the people as a whole. Jefferson noted "There are those who say that men are not ready to govern themselves, but then how are other men ready to govern them instead?"
There is a serious split growing in the class over Bush and the neo-cons. They have created a crisis they do not know how to manage. Soros, Rockefeller and the others seem to want Bush out and Wesley Clark in, a Rhodes scholar and military officer whose career included Vietnam and Bosnia. The "populists" have lined up with Dean, whose domestic agenda is reactionary and who only opposes one war on limited grounds. Kucinich is articulating the concerns of the left and the Greens, but if he had an honest chance of winning they would massacre him. Sections of the corporate run "media" are now questioning Bush. And one has to wonder, given the history of 2000 elections and 9/11, what the neo-cons will do if it looks like they might lose an election.
I don't care which party comes to power in this election, they are both segments of the class. The tension is always between those who wish to maintain an illusion of democracy while they promote corporate monopoly rule behind the scenes, and those who want to pull the glove off the fascist fist and show us who really rules. As their global crisis grows, and as they concentrate the wealth, the latter groups tends to become visible, but they jockey for ascendancy as total control approaches. The objective political and economic forces of globalized monopoly corporate capitol are the roots of fascism and genocide in the modern world. Only by creating real political and economic democracy can we awaken from the nightmare of history.
A report on NPR yesterday revealed that in the last year the richest people on the planet, the 1% or less that control the vast portion of the wealth, have had their net worth grow by 10%. Gates is now at $46 billion, followed by the close second of Buffet at $35 billion. Meanwhile we are told we are having a "jobless economic recovery". Sort of like a delerium tremens "recovery" from alcoholism?
There is a way out. Another world is possible. Capitalism is less a conspiracy of a rich segment of the population than it is a social relationship that enchains all who are in its vicinity. Commoditization is the key. All social relations are reduced to things and all things are reduced to market worth.
In the final stages of such a system, when wealth concentrates massively, technology leaps forward, and currency devalues, labor is expendable and people have only their market worth. Hair, gold in the teeth, body fat, these are resellable. Perhaps given modern technology, body parts will be a new market of choice. They are already a black market commodity. And for the few allowed to live, the other services the flesh can provide. In the 1930s the miners were told to push the mules out first in case of a collapse, because the mules cost money to replace.
It is 1939, to be very generous in my analogy. We are at the crossroads. This time it is not Europe and the Russian and Asian frontier. This time it is fully globalized. The machinery of death now makes the Hohenzollern look like a rubber-band outfit. There is no international alliance possible now to stop this juggernaut. Their only real enemy is us, the American people, who can opt for real democracy instead of fascism. It won't be won with guns, though. Political power comes from the ability to define the situation, and define it sharply. It was up to the Germans in 1939, and they failed. Now it is up to us.JJ
The courts, the California recall and the crisis of US political system
by Bill Vann, World Socialist Web Site, 19 September 2003
----- Original Message -----
To: Vincent J. Salandria, John Judge, ...
Sent: Friday, September 19, 2003 11:01 PM
Subject: The courts, the California recall and the crisis of US political system
In the absence of any mail from youse today, I recommend the following:
We were talking about politics and whether or not the Democrats had a chance. My opinion is in this article.
The only reason I am not a card-carrying member of the Socialist Equality Party, which has the best website on the Internet for political analysis, is my fear of retaliatory measures by the current fascist American government.
Suppose one of us, Vince, were arrested for alleged contacts with "terrorist" organizations? We would have no right of habeus corpus and no right to see a lawyer, and we could be held incommunicado, without even our families knowing where we were (or if we still were). This is now the legal state of the union. Am I wrong, Vince? You are a lawyer, and you should know. The fact that this is not YET happening right and left does not mean it is not happening (to Arab-Americans, for example) or that it will not in time happen to US.
George Soros is not the answer, Vince, nor is Wesley Clark or William Pitt's bartender. I don't know what the answer is. And don't fault wsws.org for not having a pat answer, either, because there isn't one. As John Judge said, this is a crossroads. Selection 2000 crossed a line, and 9/11 and aftermath crossed a line. History doesn't go backwards.
With best regards,