In the last few days, the nation has exploded into violence upon the death of George Floyd. But this single death, however horrible, is not the sole cause. It builds upon a trail of crises that has tortured our country: COVID-19, which has killed twice as many Americans as the Vietnam War, but in less than six months; an economic downturn as significant as the Great Recession; the creeping terror of climate change; grinding economic inequality; and a host of other concerns.
We are learning slowly that our system of representative democracy is riven with corruption, to the point that the will of the people is no longer heard. We see and hear nothing but the wishes of the oligarchy, while the people suffer more and more. Finally, they will take no more and explode into violence, which is the only way that their wishes can be known.
Our method of elections, as we have seen, is clumsy and riddled with inaccuracies. And yet we have in front of us more modern means of understanding what the people want.
It is called the Internet.
Let’s look at one of the issues which has divided our country: our healthcare system. We could ask the people, throughout the land, to vote on whether or not we need a law to change our healthcare system. They would have a month to vote “yes” or “no.” If they voted “no,” then no change would be made. If they voted “yes,” then over the next two months, any citizen (or group of citizens) could propose a change or set of changes. Citizens could begin to vote “yes” or “no” as to any of these proposals. Furthermore, the proposals could be amended by the proponents, and citizens could change their votes. At the end of the two months, any proposal which had received at least 100,000 votes in favor would go up for a final vote. The proponents could make further amendments, and then the voters could vote “yes” or “no” on the remaining proposals.
A set of judges would review what had occurred, and rule if any of the proposals adopted were in conflict. If they did, then the voters would be given the chance to vote as to whether they agreed or not that there was a conflict. If they agreed, then they would have to choose between the ones in conflict.
Since voters would have a long time to consider matters and vote, this would mean that groups could try to persuade the voters on how or what to vote for. But the process would be completely open, and all voters could take part. There would be a system of financing for advertising and publicity, and only public financing could be used for that purpose.
Votes on important issues could take place at any time, and since it would be done via the Internet, voters could vote at any convenient time. They could consult with their friends or with experts in the area. And everyone would feel that they had had a say in how a particular issue had been treated.
(I am sure that there would be outcries that fraud would be part of such a system. But each voter’s ballot would be secure, and if anyone thought that someone had tampered with his vote, he would have a rapid response by the government to deal with it. Attempts to buy votes would be treated harshly.)
I would that such a system of direct (not representative) might be considered. I am sure that it would be a long time being put into place. But it would be true democracy and might remove the need for violent objection to the way our country operates.