I remember from high school a teacher talking about how the changes in technology and communications could affect our future. She said that someday we might even be able to telephone in our votes on important issues, thus giving the USA a true democracy. I remember thinking that was a good idea at the time.
As you remember from your History or Civics class (do they even teach that anymore?), the United States of America is a republic, wherein the citizens elect representatives, from the local level on up, to represent them and their interests. That is a representative democracy, or democratic republic.
Telephones are everywhere now. I suspect that within a generation, over 95% of people in the USA will be connected via the internet or ways we haven't imagined yet. The day is rapidly approaching, if it isn't already here, when almost everyone could vote from the comfort of their own homes. Perhaps for the others, permanent polling places could be set up.
If everyone of voting age could participate in the decision and policy making processes of the government, on any and/or all levels, would we want it?
If that happened, I think that all of the lobbyist money that is now spent on trying to affect our representatives' votes would instead be directed toward whatever sectors of the public vote the most. Massive advertising campaigns would probably be launched both for and against whatever legislation is the most contentious. Would that be better than what we have now?
I believe that even if it were relatively easy for almost everybody to vote, not everyone would vote. I wouldn't be surprised if the level of voter participation stayed below 50%. Of course, those that did vote would be targeted by the ad campaigns.
Personally, I don't think I would want the government run by public opinion. One of my favorite quotes comes from the movie, Men In Black:
"Edwards: Why the big secret? People are smart. They can handle it.
"Kay: A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it."
I like the way our government is constituted. The biggest problem with it today, in my opinion, is that it is run mostly by career politicians instead of the rotating "citizen statesmen" that our founding fathers envisioned. I'm not aware of how many "citizen statesmen" are willing to serve. With the viciousness of today's political campaign process, who wants to go through that? Not me (as if I had a chance).
So, what do yo think? True democracy where all voters can vote on all issues, or representative democracy, like we've had for over 200 years?
Open Blog – Weekend
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