This time of year, bashing politicians is the great American sport. We have been deluged in absurdities, tortured by robot-calls and threatened by the destruction of all we hold dear if we don’t send in our $5, again and again and again.
I was listening to a TED talk, proposing that, with the wonders of the internet, we could do great things by having us all vote on bills – true democracy! Could this be the answer?
No! Please, please no! Our system is not a true democracy – and I like it that way. Have the general population vote on issues? Have you listened to the “general population” recently? I fear what we would get is rule by those that show up on public comment boards on the internet. The ones who call each other a**holes and can’t put together a coherent sentence. Yeah, I know a lot of people who comment intelligently and politely. But I fear the volume of the screamers will drown out those more reasonable.
While working for state government over six years, I got an appreciation for what people in government -including politicians – cope with. They are constantly pulled at by people coming from all sorts of viewpoints. “Spend here!!” “Lower costs!” “Back what I want!” “Look the other way!” Good politicians have the skill to appear to listen to all of these, yet make a single decision. I do not have that skill. I would be stark raving mad if I had to plot a course though all those influences. Thank god we have people – however much I may disagree with some – who are willing to be targets for all our hopes & angers! Thank god they have people on staff who read and study the options. I’m willing to pay for that.
You don’t want me tweeting my vote on bills I haven’t seen and don’t understand. My part – and yours – is to vote. As George Takei, the original Star Trek Sulu, reminds us, “Our democracy needs the participation of its people to remain robust. …While voting is a right, it is also a privilege that many have fought and died to win and retain. ”
By the way, I was complaining to a poly sci grad from another country about how our system was a pendulum that swung back and forth – more civil rights to fewer, less favoring of corporations to more, etc. It makes it hard to see progress. She remarked, “You have swings of the pendulum; we have revolutions!” Gulp. I guess our founding fathers knew what they were doing after all.