Worldview: The least significant digit of democracy

Come November 8th, if all you’ve done is vote, you’ve done the least significant thing in democracy.

It turns out that democracy is a contact sport. Voting for someone to represent you, especially in the American system of voting, constitutes little more than an affirmation of choices a long list of other people made for you.

Let’s start with the process of voting itself. It is governed by a whole host of laws and regulations you likely had nothing to do with. Someone else determined where you vote, how you vote, and if your vote counts.

And then there’s the matter of what you’re voting for. By the time you punch that chad or push that touch screen, someone else determined who would run, whose runs would get funded, who became the front-runners, and if you didn’t vote in the primary, who is on the ballot.

So, then, how much does your vote count in the face of all that?

I am not saying voting does not matter at all, because it certainly does. Voting is a basic process of democracy. But just as watering a plant is not the only thing that keeps it alive–it needs good soil, enough sunlight, the right kind of nutrients, and a host of other things–so too voting is not the only thing that makes for a successful democracy.

I grant you that one person, by themselves, will have a hard time influencing the process, but that fact makes participation more important, not less. By participating, you can band together with like-minded people, and as your group grows, your influence grows.

And with that influence, voting day becomes far more significant, because you were part of the system that determines the outcome of all the things I have mentioned and so much more.

If, therefore, you want your vote to count the most, make November 8th a beginning rather than an end. Get out there and participate in the whole process instead of just the least significant part.

DLH

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Worldview: If all we do is vote, the nonsense this election cycle represents is destined to happen again

Today was primary day in Ohio, a fact made more important by the nonsense this election cycle has come to represent. While it is tempting to blast that nonsense in all its various forms, I believe it is more important to cut to the heart of the matter.

The fact is that, if all we do is vote today and in November, the nonsense this election cycle represents is destined to happen again or become even worse.

Why?

Because the underlying cause of this nonsense is that most voters only participate in, at best, half a percent of the entire political process.

How can I say that? Because, I suspect, most of you can’t or won’t like the answers to the following questions:

  • Do you belong to (as in pay dues to or attend meetings of) the political party for which you commonly vote?
  • Do you know the names of any of that party’s local (as in precinct or county) leadership? Its state leadership? Its national leadership?
  • Do you know anything about the candidates your party has fielded for the offices closest to you?
  • How did the people on your primary ballot get there?

There are many more questions of the like that I could ask, but these four speak to the heart of the problem: for all the angst and rhetoric surrounding this election cycle, most people have no answers to those questions, and it is the lack of answers to those questions that has led to all the angst and rhetoric.

The simple fact is that, for democracy to work, it requires its participants to act on the other 1453 days of the four years between presidential elections and not just the four or eight days that represent voting.

It’s easy to come up with excuses why we don’t have time to participate in that way, but what those excuses add up to is all the reasons we’re going to continue to tolerate the mess we currently have. Democracy demands participation, and without it, democracy becomes a veil for oligarchy and dictatorship.

So, yes, go vote today. And then, tomorrow, keep participating. The consequences of doing otherwise are already apparent.

DLH

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Worldview: Write me in for ’12

If you’re not satisfied with the current crop of candidates, there is another option. If I were running for president, my platform would be so simple a caveman could vote for it:

  1. Every bill Congress sends me must include its Constitutional authority or I will veto it.
  2. Every spending measure they send me must result in a 1 percent decrease in total federal spending without compromising the government’s Constitutional requirements.
  3. Yes, I will shut down the government. Congress can agree to my requirements or override me.

Write me in for ’12.

DLH

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Worldview: Stop SOPA/PIPA

Tomorrow, Worldview and the rest of my active websites will be blacked out from 8 a.m to 8 p.m. in protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act/Protect Intellectual Property Act wending their way through Congress right now. These are bad bills conceived for bad reasons intended for bad purposes and they should not have ever been put forward let alone have the chance to go into law.

These pieces of legislation also represent part of ongoing actions on the part of our government, bot the executive and Congress, to encroach on the liberties of individual citizens for reasons that have nothing to do with making those citizen’s lives better. Examples include the latest iterations of the Patriot Act, the social media surveillance of social media by the Department of Homeland Security, a provision in the Defense Authorization Act that allows for the indefinite detention of US citizens suspected of terrorism links, and the individual mandate provisions of the health care law.

Unless we the people–which people the government is supposed to be of, by, and for–stand up against such abuses, we have no hope of securing our liberty for ourselves or for future generations. We must act now or lose more. You can start by speaking out against SOPA/PIPA by contacting your representatives using the form from the menu on the right. Then you can go further by carefully considering how you vote in 2012. Finally, you can realize that the next election begins the moment the last one ends and become involved in the entire political process.

Act now or lose more.

DLH

Read more at my Worldview site...

Worldview: Write me in for 2012

It’s hard to believe that, a little over a month ago, we voted in what was one of the biggest transfers in party power in the history of American government. Unfortunately, so far, it looks like the transfer will result in more politics as usual, which is really the last think we need.

What we do need is political leaders who are willing to do the though job and make the hard decisions that could reverse the course the past several decades of decadence has put us on. In my opinion, those leaders will never come out of the established political parties, even the less recognized ones. Instead, the best leaders come from the selection of local people known for their honesty, integrity, and leadership.

Of course, where I am about to go is dangerous, because it assumes a lot about me and about what you might think about me, yet I am willing to go there because I am willing to do what needs to be done:

Here’s the deal: beginning with the 2012 election cycle, if you don’t have any other candidate you believe you can vote for and I can legally fill the office, write me in. I am completely serious about this. If elected, I will serve, and I think I have made my viewpoints very clear on this weblog and elsewhere. I will not campaign for an office because I find the practice as it is carried out today morally reprehensible, but if people elect me to an office, I will fill it.

Further, I pledge here and now, that if I am elected, I will not serve anywhere longer than ten years or two terms (a consideration particular to the US Senate), nor will I endorse a new candidate to replace me. Individual political office should not be a lifelong career, and it is the people’s job to pick who should represent them, and I will abide by that principle.

So, there you go. Write me in if you think I can do the job better than anyone else available. Now you have another choice.

DLH

Read more at my Worldview site...