James Leroy Wilson's blog

Friday, May 27, 2005

Democracy Without Elections

I believe in many kinds of democracy. I believe in equal rights to life, liberty, and property. I believe that government, such as it exists, must have have powers inversely proportional to the size of the area and population, so that the national government would have few, well defined powers, and more local government may have a bit more power and flexibility to address local problems.

But I don't believe in democracy in the most plain meaning of "the people" rule or the "majority" rules. This is no more legitimate than anybody else "ruling." In other words, I do not believe that a democracy has the right to initiate and impose law and policy. The "consensus" reached through "our democratically elected representatives" is but the result of a lot of horsetrading in which each politician gets a little bit of what he wants, whether it be economic redistribution or regulation of behavior. Democracy in this sense does not protect our rights, it is the excuse to violate our rights.

What democracy is good for, however, is its ability to veto laws and legislation. I'm suggesting a system in which the people don't even vote in elections, but would be a heck of a lot more democratic than what we have now:

First, the President and the Congress should exchange many of their powers. Only the President - himself elected by a real Electoral College instead of the people (and perhaps should be President for life or "during good behavior") would get to propose legislation. Then the Senate (preferably appointed by State legislatures, not elected by the people), votes on it or rejects it, amends it with the President's consent, etc. Then, and only then, does the bill reach the House of Representatives. All new laws and taxes require supermajorities to pass the House, and everyone in the House is limited to one two-year (or one-year?) term. And selected essentially by lottery, like the draft, except people could opt out if they so desire.

I know, I know, this will never happen. They will never change the Constitution, especially not like this. But it does take away the most pernicious aspects of office-holding - the political campaign - while being more truly representative of and protective of the liberties and interests of the people. Which is supposed to be democracy's greatest virtue.

And this might provide a model for any future political arrangements if and when the Union dissolves.

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