Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Mike Gravel: The National Initiative for Democracy
A POPULIST CONCEPT OF DEMOCRACY
“Let the People Decide”
The central power of government in a democracy is lawmaking –– not voting. Those who make the laws determine how, when, and if voters can vote. Florida and Ohio are but recent examples. Governments throughout history have been tools of oppression; they need not be. American citizens can gain control of their government by becoming lawmakers and turning its purpose to public benefit, and stemming government growth––the people are more conservative than their elected officials regardless of political party.
Are the people qualified enough to make laws directly to govern their lives? They’re qualified enough on Election Day to give their power away to political candidates who manipulate the electoral process to get elected. In fact, it’s easier to decide one’s self-interest directly than it is to guess the mind of a representative who will naturally put his or her self-interest first.
More than 70% of the voters already make laws by initiative in twenty-four states and in numerous local communities, and when voting on bond issues referred to them for decision by their representatives––serious lawmaking. American voters have made laws for the last 100 years and their record is as good as their elected legislators––with respect to fiscal matters, the people’s record is far superior.
How do Americans become lawmakers? The Congress is not likely to dilute its power by empowering the people as lawmakers. Therefore, the people themselves must enact the National Initiative for Democracy, a proposed law that empowers them as lawmakers.
The National Initiative is a legislative package sponsored by The Democracy Foundation (www.nationalinitiative.us), a non-profit IRS 501 C (3) corporation that includes an Amendment to the Constitution and a Federal Statute. The Democracy Amendment 1) amends the Constitution asserting the legislative powers of the people, 2) sanctions the national election conducted by the nonprofit corporation Philadelphia II, giving Americans the opportunity to vote on the National Initiative, 3) creates an Electoral Trust (vital to maintain citizen lawmaking independent of representatives) and defines the role of its trustees, and 4) outlaws the use of monies not from natural persons in initiative elections.
The Democracy Act is a proposed federal statute that 1) sets out deliberative legislative procedures (copied from Congress) to be used for initiative lawmaking by citizens in every government jurisdiction of the United States, 2) defines the limited powers of the Electoral Trust that administers the legislative procedures on behalf of the people, and 3) defines the electoral threshold that must be reached for the National Initiative to become the law of the land. It is important to understand that the National Initiative does not alter the existing structure or powers of representative governments. Rather, it adds an additional Check –– the People –– to our system of Checks and Balances, while setting up a working partnership between the people and their elected representatives.
How can American voters amend the Constitution and enact the National Initiative if Congress opposes it? The people must go around all three branches of government to amend the Constitution. There are only two venues within our government structure where constitutions, constitutional amendments, and laws can be enacted into law: the people or their elected representatives. The Framers in Article 7 of the Constitution provided a procedure for We, the People to ratify the Constitution and thereby create our government, but failed to provide procedures for the people to alter the Constitution, even though they repeatedly said the people had the right to change their government as they saw fit. However, the Framers did provide amending procedures for themselves in Article V, thereby perpetuating control of government be elites.
Conventional wisdom now holds that Article V is the only way to amend the Constitution. Article V is how the government amends the Constitution, not how the people do it. If the people had to use Article V to amend the Constitution they would need permission from two-thirds of the Congress and three-fourths of the state legislatures. This would mean that the creator of our government, the people, would have to get permission from their elected representatives, the createes of the people, to amend the Constitution. This logic is ludicrous. The constituent power of the people––the source of all political power––cannot be subject to the power of its creation.
James Madison had it right when he said that the people could just do it. The people can amend the Constitution and make laws as long as the process they employ is fair, transparent and reasonable. The National Initiative, the ongoing people’s legislative procedures, is just that and the national election conducted by Philadelphia II to enact the National Initiative under the precedent of Article 7 is fair, transparent and reasonable. Today’s communication technology permits us to ask all American citizens if they wish to be empowered as lawmakers and if a majority of voters who voted in the last presidential election so affirm–– regardless of the view of those in government––then the National Initiative becomes the law of the land