Saturday, September 29, 2007

Big Money's Politicians Make Bad Laws

Election results from Somerville's 27th State Rep. District for this question (Question #5) were: 3,468 voted "yes" and 11,415 voted "no." It was not on any other ballots.


When the question, "QUESTION X," is on the state ballot, voters will be able to vote YES or NO on the following single-sentence question:

"Shall the state representative from this district be instructed to vote in favor of a proposal to amend the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to replace the state Legislature with 100 randomly selected adult residents of the Commonwealth, each serving a one year term, to be called the Commonwealth Jury and to have all the legislative and other powers of the current Legislature?" [This will appear as Question #5 in the 25th Middlesex (Somerville) state representative district in the November 2008 election.]

The jury system is the only truly democratic part of our government because that is the only part in which ordinary people have a real say. The amendment to the constitution that is proposed here simply extends the jury system to the legislative branch.

Why should ordinary residents of the state, not Big-Money's politicians, make the laws? Here are some examples that illustrate why: unfair laws passed by Big-Money's politicians:

* An unfair tax code (pdf)

* High stakes standardized testing (MCAS)
of our public school children--testing that nobody but Big Business wanted.

* Unaffordable health care nationally, and even with the new "universal" plan in Massachusetts

* A denial to citizens of their democratic right to vote on a fundamental social issue: same-sex marriage

* A phony debate between the House Speaker and the Governor about Casinos for jobs and revenue

At the National Level:

* Funding trillions of dollars for wars waged by presidents who tell us lies, but never the real reason, for the war

* Funding more trillions of dollars for a foreign policy that defends regimes that are based on ethnic cleansing (Israel) and tyranny (Saudi Arabia, Egypt [where, according to the U.S. State Department, "Citizens did not have the meaningful ability to change their government," yet it receives more U.S. foreign aid than any nation other than Israel], and the list goes on) and terror (Nicaragua's Contras, Guatemala's genocide against the indigenous population, El Salvador, and the list goes on)

Presently our so-called "representatives" must curry the favor of Big Money in order to get the large campaign donations and favorable coverage in the corporate-controlled media that are required to win an election today. These politicians don’t represent us. "Yes," some would say, "but they are experts at writing laws." But that is exactly the problem. The kind of laws they are expert at writing are intended to make our society be the way Big Money wants it to be: unequal, undemocratic and in the service of the big corporations.

In contrast, ordinary people chosen at random, like a jury, would be more truly representative of Massachusetts residents; they would be beholden to nobody, and far more expert in making society more equal and democratic and fair. Ordinary people want our society to be one where people help each other instead of being made to compete against one another for good jobs and education that the corporations keep artificially scarce. Putting government decisions in the hands of ordinary residents chosen this way would be a lot more democratic.

We do not have real democracy; much of what is wrong in our society stems from not having real democracy and we ought to do whatever it takes to get it.


UnstoppableDrew said...

So would this be mandatory service like jury duty, or you have the option to decline if you're picked ?

Anonymous said...

After learning about the fact that this question will indeed be on the ballot from my own ward in Somerville, I researched where it came from and why it was being proposed. Thus, I found your site and I truly appreciate the time and effort that has gone into this. I believe you are to be commended on taking the time to create such a referendum. However, please do remember that we live in a Republic. Even using referendums like this really creates an Ochlocracy. If majority rules, then every minority could be crushed. I believe the democratic republic, with the system of representatives, works to prevent "mob rule" and "off-the-cuff" legislation. Furthermore, it creates accountability that would not be there if "random people" were to act as a legislative branch. Last, we already have a system whereby the jury decides what is right and what is not: it is called the judicial branch of the government; are we to now have the same system in both the judicial branch as well as the legislative branch and if so, where are the checks and balances? I appreciate the fact that your question on the ballot serves as a reminder to our representatives that they should truly represent the people; again, my commendations for reinforcing this fact. However, I prefer to go with a system that allows for accountability of elected officials to do what is best for ALL the people, with ALL the people having a choice of the elected official. -BoB

Ross said...

Based on your ideas to use random selection to improve democracy, I believe you will like the YouTube video "A NEW DEMOCRACY" and the website They introduce new ideas on how to effectively combine elections with random selection. It produces a more corruption resistant democracy. It suggests using random selection with some form of society's screening -- receiving at least 1,000 votes from local peers to enter a candidate pool for random selection.

Democray does not work in ignorant societies. Better people make a better world... so the website also covers this aspect of democracy.

Best regards,
Ross King