What we want you to do
1. September 2008 update: On the face of it, this year's election for President offers an interesting choice between two materially different candidates. John McCain has real-life experience, due to his time as a POW, but he is also anti-nature, and in the pockets of large corporations - his campaign finance bill notwithstanding. His election would represent a continuation of government for corporations and the extremely wealthy, not on behalf of everyone. Also, his choice of VP nominee, Palin, is both a cynical ploy to appeal to women voters, and an entreaty to Republican extremists, to anti-evolution troglodytes and Christian fundamentalists. The fact that she used Alaskan taxpayer money to allow multi-millionaires to murder wolves from helicopters alone should disqualify the ticket.
The alternative, Barack Obama, is smart but inexperienced. He appears to be ethical, but there is no way to know for certain: no way to determine how much he is part of the corrupt Washington system. In other words, all of the problems associated with a leadership-based system prevail. The vote is a roll of the dice, with the likelihood being - proven by centuries of precedent - that the next President will not serve the people, and moreover, we will be stuck with him for yet another four years.
November 2004 update: While there seemingly are profound differences between George Bush and John Kerry, they both wholeheartedly support the war and development modern social paradigm (tear it down, build it up, repeat). And, of course, they both come from wealthy, privileged backgrounds. While commentators focused on their differences, and described a nation divided, the candidates came from the same, uppermost economic class (and went to the same university and belonged to the same "secret society") and for all intents and purposes served the same interests (religions and corporations, for the latter foremost defense contractors). In other words, you could count your choices on one finger.
In the 2000 election it was George Bush versus Al Gore. What kind of choice was that? On the one hand we had a rich party boy, with clear intellectual limitations, but backed by an extremely powerful father (the prior president), and on the other hand another rich boy, this time with ethical flaws, and also backed by power (the current incumbent). What about the idea of a meritocracy? What about our best and brightest?
We ask you to reflect upon the fact that the perpetration of this type of charade on the general public, at all levels of government and in all democratic nations, is commonplace. We ask you to consider if this is the best that we, and democracy, can do.
We believe the issue at hand is actually the form of our democracy, and in all cases the modern form is representative. We elect government leaders. The people themselves do not make the actual decisions of government, as in direct, or participative, democracy.
In a sense, we shirk our responsibility, and the various problems we experience, beginning with a lack of suitable candidates for office, are what we get for it. Representative democracy is a halfway approach to, and a weak compromise in, the idea of self-government. It even carries the implicit assumption that we are not up to the task, that we do need the guidance of other, better, (or more powerful, upper-class) individuals. That such a form of government always evolves away from democratic ideals, including a determination to achieve equality, and ends up as an aristocracy or autocracy, is hardly surprising.
2. We would also ask you to recognize that the vote, at least in a two-party system, creates the most extreme form of stereotyping. Your real, unique human voice, with all manner of opinions and beliefs, is boiled down to one simplistic statement. You are either for this person or that; part of this group or the other. Any disagreements that you may have with your representatives are nullified. In effect, the vote in such a system degrades us. The only way your voice can be heard, in all its nuance and subtlety, the only way you can actually exercise the responsibility that self-government demands, is in a direct democracy, where you are called upon to make your views heard, and your decision, on every pressing issue.
What we intend to do
1. Dictator Watch believes that representative democracy is a weak governmental system which inexorably leads to abuse and an entrenched political elite. We further believe that the ability of self-government is one of the core tests of humanity, but not via such representation; instead, in a direct form. We intend to lobby for a truly participative system through the implementation of home voting.
Working with other interested groups, we want to study the issues involved in the conversion of representative democracy to direct democracy. And, we would note, there are two classes of such issues: (1) the technical issues involved in fairly recording and safeguarding public votes (as was seen through the disputes in Florida, even the supposedly most advanced democracy in the world was unable to count the vote!); and (2) the issues directly related to the running of the government, to how decisions would be presented to the public, and how their choices would be implemented.
We would like to identify progressive communities which would be willing to test a direct democracy system, and then work with them to consider all relevant issues and accomplish its initiation. Our ultimate goal is to document a series of case examples, so that direct democracy can more easily be implemented by other communities, and then, at all levels of government.
2. In addition, since the transition to direct democracy will be a long-term project, in the interim we would like to examine the means by which referendums on particular issues could be held at greater and greater levels, up to national. For example, regarding the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, we believe the preservation of the Refuge in perpetuity should be put to a national direct vote.
© Roland O. Watson 2001-3