[EM] Democracy

Fred Gohlke fredgohlke at verizon.net
Sun Mar 22 09:40:58 PDT 2009

Good Morning, Don

Thank you for your explanation.  I do, indeed, agree that the electoral 
process must not grant some citizens more power than others.  That is 
one of my objections to partisan politics: the party elite have a power 
denied to the people.  They make the political decisions.  All the 
people are allowed to do is to 'vote' on the decisions made by party 

Ensuring every member of the electorate has an equal opportunity to 
participate in the electoral process and influence the decisions that 
affect their lives requires a different approach than the established 
method of leaving our political existence in thrall to political 
parties, candidates and campaigns.  It is easy to say every citizen must 
have equal political power, it is more difficult to conceive a way to 
establish that premise as an integral part of our electoral process.

Our governmental jurisdictions are comprised of thousands, hundreds of 
thousands, and millions of people.  Finding a way to empower each of 
them in every election, in a practical way, requires a fresh approach.

We know there are people among us who would be exemplary representatives 
of our interests, but we don't know who or where they are.  We don't 
know at which desk, behind which wheel, before which stove, in which 
town, down which street are the people with the wit and wisdom, 
persuasiveness, integrity, pride, desire, and knowledge and 
understanding of our needs to stand up for us and make their presence 
felt.  We have no means to find the individuals who will thrive and 
blossom when they are invited to discuss current and prospective 
concerns, when they learn their views find merit among their peers.  We 
know they are out there.  They may be truck drivers or doctors, union 
members or athletes, teachers or farmers.  Whoever and wherever they 
are, it is in our own best interest to find and elevate them.

In addition, the method must be responsive to the many subtle 
distinctions in the political attitudes of the people, and the fact that 
our interest in politics varies throughout our lives.  We can't let the 
circumstance cited by James Gilmour, ("... not everyone wants [to] make 
their own political decisions, and the proportion in that category is 
surprisingly (and disappointingly ?) large.") diminish the opportunity 
for those who feel a more vital interest in public administration.

Representing a large number of people with diverse needs and attitudes 
is a daunting task.  Identifying the best person for the job requires, 
on the part of the individual, a desire, and, on the part of the people, 
recognition of the person's ability.  The two qualities, desire and 
ability, are inextricably mixed.  However great one's ability may be, 
they will not exercise that ability without a desire to do so.  On the 
other hand, one's desire to influence political events is moot unless it 
is supported by recognition that the person has the ability to do so in 
the best interests of the people.  These are the cornerstones of the 
Practical Democracy concept.  They give those seeking advancement a 
vital interest in their own reputation for competence and, by inference, 

You voiced a concern that those who do not advance have lost their right 
to vote.  I don't agree.  They have shown that their point of view is 
not representative of their peers.  Thus, they are, by definition, 
unable to speak for their peers.

Even so, whether or not a continuing right to 'vote' exists will depend 
on the way Practical Democracy is implemented.  There are a number of 
considerations not directly addressed in the outline.  Although it 
mentions the bidirectional nature of the proposal, it does not specify 
how that capability should be implemented.  It did not, for example, 
mention the possibilities for referendum and recall, both of which can 
be accomplished with ease.  It can also be used to let those who advance 
know the wishes of their constituents and leaves open the degree of 
compulsion associated with those wishes.

Furthermore, in spite of my personal aversion to the idea, the Practical 
Democracy method can be implemented as a nomination procedure rather 
than an electoral method.  If done that way, the public can vote on the 
nominees produced by the process.  My objection to this option is 
manifold:  It subjects the people and the candidates to the flood of 
media manipulation that presently dominates election campaigns, and it 
requires campaigning for office, with all the evils of corruption and 
narcissism that entails.  It is better, I think, to let the process act 
as a filter that ensures the best of our people reach public office.

Fred Gohlke

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