Monday, November 10, 2008

Democracy: Voting and negotiation

Democracy has been praised for empowering the masses by giving them the vote. There is however another political action, negotiation, that is still reserved for the political class.

Rolling Stone, "Worst Congress Ever":
To ensure that Democrats can't alter any of the last-minute changes, Republicans have overseen a monstrous increase in the number of "closed" rules — bills that go to the floor for a vote without any possibility of amendment. This tactic undercuts the very essence of democracy: In a bicameral system, allowing bills to be debated openly is the only way that the minority can have a real impact, by offering amendments to legislation drafted by the majority.

The role of the political party was to increase the negotiating power of the political class. Doing the same level of organization with the electorate gives you constructions like Moveon.org.

It is a step in the right direction. And yet far from what is possible. The most meaningful negotiations happen between peers. Moveon.org is giant, I am small. It is a similar problem to dealing directly with government. It is big, I am small.

There is a different way that politics can be shaped to form a more empowering government. Imagine you could vote for anybody. Snap out of the reality where there is a list created off in the aether then presented to you, and into a reality where you could empower any living person with the power of your vote. That person could be your friend, a family member or a professional acquaintance. And because you already have a relationship with this person, and because you are peers, the two of you can discuss how to protect what is important to you. Your representative can then choose to use his votes to empower another, and so on up the chain.

The future of democracy must be between peers. It is the only way to share power effectively.

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