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January 27, 2015

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Letter to the editor:

Direct democracy empowers people

Another view?

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In today’s talk about politics, most discussions usually revolve around either the Democratic or Republican parties and maybe third parties, but what about reforming our political system to allow citizens to vote on bills through in-person or electronic means?

Many citizens would say a direct form of democracy such as this couldn’t work effectively with a population around 315 million people, but here are some reasons why it should be considered for our country.

A direct democracy would allow citizens to vote or introduce legislation through various methods and would encourage more people to get involved in political issues. It would actually empower voters instead of leaving them feeling hopeless, which many do. Voters would feel like they are part of the whole process instead of being just another a number without much say in regard to policy set at any level of government.

A direct democracy would take power away from lobbying interests that currently exert control over policies and legislation and speak on behalf of corporations.

Finally, if citizens could actually vote on legislation, many laws could be repealed as an infringement on individual liberties. If citizens were allowed to vote and propose legislation, we would be a prosperous society because unnecessary laws as well as regulations would probably not exist.

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  1. I understand why Mr. Miller calls for a direct democracy, and I am frustrated too, but other solutions exist.

    Powerful interests with lobbyists corrupt our legislative (Congress) branch, so we end up being a nation run by powerful interests for the benefit of powerful interests.

    We could lessen their influence if we just instituted public financing of Congressional campaigns, Term Limits and Lobbying Reform.

    If we did that, we'd remove the desire of most in Congress to make it a 'career', we'd remove the need for our elected representatives to pander to powerful interests for cash in order to be elected and we could finally get lobbyists out of the business of writing the legislation they desire that benefits and advantages 'only' themselves.

    The solution to our corrupted Congress sits before us. We just need to embrace it.


  2. Our Constitutional Republic has worked well for 237 years despite all those who said it couldn't, wouldn't, shouldn't. If it's not broke, don't fix it. Make it better.


  3. Carmine,

    Sorry to disagree but our Constitution is not working well under either party.

    Congress has become like a giant pig trough, with Presidents throwing money into it, while many powerful pigs with lobbyists (business, labor, government unions, private unions, interests groups, cities, counties, states, etc) stand ready, with their lobbyists to suck the money out of the trough for their benefit. They simply make sure Congress members get what they need to be re-elected and our representatives just stand aside and let the feast continue.... they even facilitate it!

    It doesn't change in any meaningful way no matter what party wins. With Bush and Republicans, part of it was the defense contractor 'pigs' at the trough. With Obama and the stimulus, it was cities, counties and state 'pigs' gorging at the trough. Switching parties changes nothing that matters.

    Presidents will always throw money in the Congressional trough. The gatekeepers... the people who are supposed to make sure the money in the trough is well spent, have been co-oped, by the 'pigs' at the trough.

    The Republicans are wrong to think that they can starve the government. The 'system' in place will always thwart that. The 'system' has to be changed.... Term Limits, Public Financing of Campaigns and Lobbying Reform!


  4. An interesting concept even if it is a bit utopian. We can influence the legislative branch right now by emailing our views on any proposed or needed legislation. While a Congressman or Senator might not read every email, rest assured that they count them. An energized and informed electorate has the potential to get it's way and accomplish its goals. If we are neither informed or energized we'll just get more of the same and deserve every bit of it.

  5. "Carmine,

    Sorry to disagree but our Constitution is not working well under either party." Michael

    I never said it was perfect...I said it works. And it can always be made better.


  6. Ever been in a room with 3 other people? Ask a political question and you'll get 4 different views. With hundreds of millions - you will get hundreds of millions of views - except from the parasites. It would be this forum on steroids. They are united in their quest to suck more blood from the turnip - the turnip in this case being the US Treasury. Think spending is out of control now? I shudder to think of what happens if the parasitic class gets the opportunity to directly vote themselves raises at any time. Why they would act like, well, politicans and line their own pockets.

  7. Miller,

    With some due respect, you should evaluate your proposal further. Afterwards, I suspect you will come to understand the weaknesses and the potential disaster of a complete democracy. Furthermore, you will better understand the timeless brilliance of our Constitution and its strong desire for separation of powers. It was simply brilliant then and it is simply brilliant now.


  8. Casler, et al.

    I posit to you that the Constitution is working EXACTLY as intended and if not for the "check & balance" of our three powers, our Constitutional Republic would have failed many years ago. Please believe that in your soul and spend your thoughtful time in a more useful manner.


  9. Purgatory,

    I have to inform you that several things have changed in the years since the Constitution was written.

    1) In the 1780's, being a member of Congress was not a lucrative position, where you could go from the middle class to being wealthy.

    2) People did not try to make 'service' in Congress a career.

    3) There were not lucrative opportunities to become a paid lobbyist after your 'service' was concluded.

    4) The Federal government was not big enough that every single group that can afford to engaged paid lobbyists to get what they wanted out of Congress.

    There are many other ways things are different now. I applaud your defense of our Constitution, but even our brilliant framers could not see what the world would like like today. We do need to make some changes in the term limits for Congress, the way campaigns are funded, the way lobbying works, the different benefits that members of Congress have and the people have, the rules that have been implemented within Congress, the way the 2 parties exclude 3rd parties from debates, etc, etc.

    Our system is still a good system, but flaws have developed that we must address, if we hope to prosper as a nation.


  10. I hope I have made it clear that I am not against the Federal government spending money. I am against the Federal government wasting money and not taxing enough to pay for what it spends.

    Let's take Solyndra as an example. I suspect there were some financial red flags raised even before the initial loan was granted. I know red flags went up later when the company was clearly struggling. Why were those flags ignored? Because some lobbying group that stood to gain from the Solyndra loan had enough 'influence' to push it through. Our representatives in Congress see similar actions everyday but do nothing, because they depend on such lobbyists and their employers for the money and support needed to be re-elected.

    The fact that the Federal government spends is not our real problem. The real problem is that our gatekeepers (our elected representatives) are not doing what they are supposed to do. Why? Because our system is now at a place where if our representatives buck the interests with lobbyists and do the 'right' thing, they will be targeted and defeated in the next election.

    Whether we have a President Obama, who believes in large and continuous government spending or one who believes in only moderate spending, if we leave the Congressional system as it is, we can be assured that lots of the money government spends will end up benefiting those with a seat at the table with lobbyists and not the rest of us.


  11. EL Lobo,

    It is such a bunch of baloney to claim that most Conservatives want a country run by the elite, the rich & well born. Some Conservatives may want that but most don't.

    I'm conservative economically and I want the government to spend. I could support several things President Obama talked about that involved spending money. All he'd need to do is really balance the spending with reductions elsewhere and/or higher taxes and remain involved in the legislation when it is in Congress to make sure the money isn't misappropriated and or wasted.

    No President ever does both these things. Bush did nothing to pay for the wars and he allowed the defense funds to be badly spent in many areas. President Obama did the same things with the stimulus money that was supposed to be for shovel ready projects that turned out not to be so shovel ready.

    To do this on a continual basis is a travesty but both Conservatives and Liberals do it.


  12. "In most conservatives twisted little mind, they want a country run by the elite, the rich & well born." @ El Lobo

    You call me a conservative yet I have said here many times, and to you, that the US should follow the lead of England, with the House of Lords now being a symbolic body with no rule, and disband the Senate. The millionaires' club. If you're not wealthy before you join you are after. And you have argued in favor of keeping it. So tell me... who is the conservative?


  13. People already do a lousy job at deciding who should be sent to Congress, what makes you think could possibly do a better job at voting on bills directly?

    No a direct democracy such that proposed would rapidly become the WORST possible form of government today.

  14. Casler,

    Your premise that "several things have changed in the years since the Constitution was written" is where you first go wrong. The rest of your energy is spent in a useless endeavor. NOTHING about human nature has changed since the 18th century. NOTHING. Hence, the need to keep the Constitution exactly as it is. You wanna amend it, go ahead. The Framers envisioned that and included a process for it.

    Now please heed my advice and and "believe that in your soul and spend your thoughtful time in a more useful manner."


  15. Millions and millions of people in this country never so much as graduated from high school. They can't accomplish simple tasks such as balancing a checkbook. You're going to give them a direct vote on legislation. They don't even understand the legislative process.

    God help us if that were to happen!

  16. roughly 30% of voters identify themselves as Democrats and 30% identify themselves as Republicans. People are leaving both parties in droves. It's the people in between those two parties that are going to decide the fate of this country going forward. People will decide on issues and not party rhetoric.

  17. WRT definition of the US form of government El Lobo, and which is best, I suggest you read and try to understand this excerpt:

    "In case anyone needed a lesson in understanding the difference between democracy and a Constitutional Republic a.k.a. Europe and America, tonight's results should serve as a clear message. This is democracy in full force.

    Why did we need a constitution? Why are popular elections not a sufficient means of preserving liberty?

    A pure unbridled democracy is a political system in which the majority enjoys absolute power by means of democratic elections. In an unvarnished democracy, unrestrained by a constitution, the majority can vote to impose tyranny on themselves and the minority opposition. They can vote to elect those who will infringe upon our inalienable God-given rights. Thomas Jefferson referred to this as elected despotism in Notes on the State of Virginia (also cited in Federalist 48 by Madison).."

    If you care to research, the author goes on to say that while the Dems kept the Senate and White House, the Reps kept the House [and 60 percent of the State Mansions with Governors]. 2/3 Dem and 1/3 Reps. Checks and balances. Constitutional Republic vs democracy.


  18. I wholeheartedly agree with zippert1's post at 9:51 a.m. above. However, I think he might be overly optimistic with how he concludes his post of 9:57.

  19. More Americans believe in angels than evolution.

    That pretty much sums up why direct democracy is a terrible idea.

  20. Purgatory,

    If it took an amendment or amendments to make the changes I feel are necessary, I would support doing that.

    Human nature hasn't changed but circumstances have. The Constitution was written to account for human nature and the circumstances of the time. One has not changed but the other has. We need to make some changes to better deal with today's changed circumstances.


  21. How many Americans believe in aliens and that Obama was born in Africa????
    Most of us agree on something. The end of the world must be near!!!!

  22. The form of government established by our Constitution shows that the founders had a strong distrust of pure democracy and a feeling that such could quickly become akin to mob rule.

    The Bill of Rights shows that they had an equally strong mistrust of government growing too powerful.

    The combination of the two is an almost unique compromise that places limitations on both the government and the governed. I think it has worked very well as attested to by the fact that besides the original Bill of Rights we have seen a need to amend the Constitution only 17 times, and two of those cancel each other (Prohibition) so there are really only 15 changes in some 225 years. That is a remarkable record!

  23. At this point I think we should remember the popular (but probably fake) quote from Ben Franklin: "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote."

  24. "we have seen a need to amend the Constitution only 17 times, and two of those cancel each other (Prohibition) so there are really only 15 changes in some 225 years. That is a remarkable record!" boftx

    And one was to limit presidential terms to 2 consecutive of 8 years. [As a direct result of President Franklin Roosevelt not following the tradition of 2 terms established by George Washington]. So the USA would not have dynasties and monarchies like England.


  25. "Every one on this board knows that I'm "light years" away from being a conservative...

    I'm a "big D Democrat" & proud of it..." El Lobo

    "El_Lobo had the best and most accurate comments
    here today.....DEMOCRATS FOREVER!" Teamster

    Party and labels limit your minds' eye view.

  26. El Lobo,

    One of us is naive, but it's you, not me. I recognize and admit that both our major parties are failing us. You don't. You make generalizations that are inaccurate. I don't. Your solution is all Democrats, all the time. My solution is not all Republicans, all the time. I see a major issue with Congress, how long members serve, how much money it takes to get elected and stay in office and with lobbying. You see none of that and believe that 'all' the problems are related to the fact that there are conservatives and Republicans in the world.

    One of us is naive, alright, but it isn't me!


  27. Michael Casler wrote,

    "We could lessen their influence if we just instituted public financing of Congressional campaigns, Term Limits and Lobbying Reform."

    This is the heart of our current problems in Washington and State politics.

    Money corrupts. Therefore, the political system is corrupt.

    Our system of government is complex! The frame work looks good, the words sounds good, but our system is inherently a corruptible system.

  28. LongtimeVegan,

    It seems as if you are one of the few in this forum that sees the real issue. Whether one favors small, medium or large government, the one constant is that Congress creates the legislation, allocates the money and sets taxes.

    If members of Congress must do what powerful interests with lobbyists in DC want so they get the money to be re-elected, how can we expect the taxes we pay to be used wisely, fairly and without regard to what powerful interests want?

    The answer is that we cannot. It matters very little what party is in control. The system has to be changed, or whatever Congress spends will result in unintended consequences. wrong priorities, misdirected allocations, and waste and fraud on a massive scale. It goes on in defense and in every domestic program as well.

    The solution is not to cut spending on a massive scale and provide even more tax cuts, as Republicans propose, nor is it to spend even more and tax the rich more, as the Democrats propose. It is instead to fix what is wrong in the Legislative branch so whatever we decide to spend is not subject to the desires of powerful interests with lobbyists.


  29. "Who was the last Republican president to produce a balanced budget? Who was the last Republican president to actually decrease the size of the federal government?

    Need I say more??? " El Lobo

    No, because it will still be skewed by your blind political patronage to the democratic party and its left wing ideology.


  30. El_Lobo has it wrong. I don't think the present Congress is going to willingly enact term limits, public financing of campaigns or lobbying reform. It isn't in their interests to do so. I also don't believe that if we replaced everyone in Congress that the new members would willingly enact any of the above.

    To get those things enacts, we would need a public demand for them and at present, that public demand does not exist. That being said, these things are vital and they need to be done, so I call for them.

    The issue I have with El_Lobo and many others of all political persuasions is that they believe we will achieve very positive results if only everybody throws their support to the Democrats or Republicans. I did believe that at one tome too, but no longer.

    If we don't reform Congress, much of whatever government spends will misappropriated, wasted and will be subject to massive waste and fraud.

    I don't care if El_Lobo is a big D Democeat and votes that way. What I would like to see from El_lobo and everyone else is a recognition that we have a dysfunctional and corrupted Legislative branch.... and most importantly.... that what is wrong is extremely serious and cannot be remedied by ignoring the facts and continuing to act and believe that the problems are the result of one party or can be resolved by either party.


  31. "Hey Carmine.....

    Tell me, who was the last Republican president to produce a balance budget & who was the last Republican president to actually decrease the size of the national government?" El Lobo


    Good question for Carmine.

    He can't answer it.

    HA, HA, HA, HA, HA,!" Teamster

    It's a trick question. Why? For several reasons. The law clearly states that the President MUST submit an annual budget PROPOSAL to Congress in the first week of April of the year before it is effective. BTW, President Obama submitted a budget in 2009. Not in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. He's late this year BUT claims he will submit one for 2014 next month.

    Even if the there was a law to submit a balanced budget, what would be the enforcement
    provision if a President did not? Hint: What is the enforcement provision for a President when he doesn't submit a budget proposal, period. Nothing. Just look at the current President's failures in 4 years of the budget sibmissions. What happens? Nothing.

    Finally, the President is required by law to submit a budget PROPOSAL. Not an approved balanced budget. Congress must pass its own budgets, reconcile theirs with the President's, get both Houses to approve, and then the President's signature on it in order to be effective. It's a coequal effort. Not just the Prsident's responsibility.

    BTW, the House, read Republicans, have submitted a budget every year in the last 5 years. The Senate and President have not. And while not balanced in the current fiscal year, the House budget versions have provisions for balance in the out years IF THEY HAD BEEN ACCEPTED AND PASSED BY THE SENATE AND PRESIDENT.


  32. BTW while I enjoy educating you here on US government budget procedures and laws, it is not relevant to the issue of the letter. As I recall we were debating the best form of representative governace: Constitutional Republic [like the US] vs democracy [like Europe]. The verdict is in: 237 years and still counting.


  33. The Republicans in the Washington, and in control of state houses, are rabid in their response to "anything" President Obama proposes. Anything! When President agrees with the Republicans, they change their position. Period!

    Agnostic, yet being obstructionist. All designed to stop the system. The root motivation...bias and prejudice!

    Driven by accepted racial thinking and behavior, taught by community and family generations in the States once know as the Slave States based on the boundaries on the map of 1850. Yet, not much has changed in the thinking and the boundaries of those is such areas.

  34. "When President agrees with the Republicans, they change their position. Period!" Longtimevegan

    Name some, please.


  35. "Driven by accepted racial thinking and behavior, taught by community and family generations in the States once know as the Slave States based on the boundaries on the map of 1850. Yet, not much has changed in the thinking and the boundaries of those is such areas." Longtimevegan

    Nonsense. Americans elected the first African American president not just once but twice. Plenty has changed. We'll know when change is complete when the first African American president can be judged rightly/wrongly on his opinions without the race card played.


  36. Michael, I almost always agree with your posts that our political system is broken/corrupt and that both parties share responsibility. It seems to me that the issues that get debated ad nauseum (gun control, taxes, abortion, immigration, etc.) are designed to distract people from the inherent corruption of the system (companies spending more on lobbying than they pay in taxes, for example). When I was younger I would scoff at conspiracy theorists, but now I'm starting to wonder if these distraction issues are created and the fires of disagreement along party lines are fanned intentionally by people who want to distract the public from the bigger system issue. I'm curious about your thoughts on this.

  37. Same comment back at you: Stick to the letter's writer subject. What's the better form of governance: A Constitutional republic, like the USA, or democracy like Europe? Or have you resigned yourself to the weight of the evidence and agree it is the USA and a Constitutional Republic. If so, you're right!


  38. "Please.....please......little buddy! Answer my original question! Is that so hard? Apparently!" El Lobo

    I already did. Reread until it sinks in.

    '"The best form of government is the type of government that we currently have.....a "constitutional democratic-republic."

    That's far superior to a "constitutional republic."' El Lobo

    One and the same. But as usual, you need more words.


  39. BTW, I am neither little, like you, or your buddy. Although, I suspect you have a need for one and wishfully think it is me.


  40. If we had a form of direct democracy on the state level and made our elected officials going to Congress contracted to the people of the state related to state referendums applicable to the federal government, we might be able to gain back the loyalty of our reps.

    Under the contracts terms, they would be required to vote in accord with the state's vote on referendums, or get canned.

    This could put the decision of eliminating many of the nasty aberrations that have developed, i.e., lobbying, campaign financing, and 501(c)(3)'s, into the hands of the voter's rather than the politicians who will never eliminate them.

  41. The Race Card is being played in full display in congress. Anyone who said different is in denial, or sympathetic to those who are racist, or a racist themselves. The language the action speak loudly, speak volumes, of how this President is being portrayed by Republicans.

    Foxnews and company ran against "their" version of President Obama. Their manufactured character...they lost. They are in a bubble. A different reality. The majority of Americans are not in Bubble.

    Many of the States being controlled by Republican governors have changed state law to protect Republican elected officials and Republicans candidates. Gerrymandering. Yes, the Democrats of guilty too. However, Republican controlled states have taken it several steps further in changing voter laws. And now trying to change the voting, to a proportional vote system from our current system. The Republicans are constantly changing the rules to make sure another person of color does not win elected to the highest office in the land. The voices and the actions from those who oppose the President speak clearly of Bias and Prejudice. This all adds up to to Racism on a whole different level.

    My friends, the majority of the America People are not racist!

    The majority of Republicans, and States controlled by Republicans tell us through their actions and words, they have institutional bias and prejudices. That's being Racist when applied to our First Black President. Racism! Alive and thriving in Washington and in Republican controlled States. America's Reality!

    The prosecution rest!