We are actually a Republican form of Government. However the promise of a real democracy is implicit in our basic founding documents, the United States Constitution and the Federalist Papers. Throughout the history of the United States since its inception more and more democratic principles have been attached or amended to our basic political contract. The Founding Fathers, specifically Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Ben Franklin and others noted in many places and in many speeches at the time of the framing of the Constitution that the power of the Constitution derives from the people; it was adopted by the people; it functions at the behest of and for the benefit of the people. This basic understanding is that the whole reason for a government to exist is to serve the wishes of the People, and that a government that fails to recognize this basic principle flies in the face of this basic agreement or contract between the people and their government. This is the most overriding principle in the formation of the American experiment in Democracy and therefore it is followed throughout the centuries for the most part.
To that end, the Constitution has been amended twenty-seven times, SEE AMENDMENTS and in each of these amendments more and more freedom and a new democratic principle has been established. Also please note Proposed Amendments in recent years.
For example in the First Amendment, part of the Bill of Rights, the right to Free Speech, Freedom of the Press, Freedom of Assembly and the Right to Petition the Government for a Redress of Grievances was granted to all American Citizens. This First Amendment, the most importance keystone of the American democracy laid the foundation for more and more rights that will eventually allow the American Citizen the right to Vote Directly on the Issues of the Day. Petitions have been used for decades to demonstrate to our Government our dissatisfaction regarding a certain issue or our desire to advance a certain cause, such as advance the rights of African Americans, women or other minorities. Petitions have also been used to express dissatisfaction with unpopular wars. They have largely been ignored by the government, however, this does not in itself disqualify the Petition Process as a valid form of political expression.
The Petitioning Process has been traditionally a paper form of expression of our rights only because the electronic form of Petition has yet to be perfected. On the horizon, however, are many new ways of utilizing the Internet and Online Petitions have already shown up in demanding the impeachment of the President, ending the unpopular Viet Nam War and more recently the War in Iraq as well as many other popular issues. It will just be a matter of time when we are able to connect Online Petitions with Online Demands for the majority will on any given issue and thus eliminating the need for paper Petitioning with wet signatures.
The Government's ability to ignore such popular actions by the people, even though signed by millions of citizens, is largely accepted because there is no mention in the Constitution of the necessity for the Government to obey any citizen Petition movement. The Constitution only mentions the right of the citizens to make formal protests, to attempt to redress their grievances, but there is no provision for what the Government is required to do in response. Congress, being the body of Government that is charged with the responsibility and duty to represent the will of the people, may at times, respond to a popular Petition with hearings and sometimes changes in the laws.
The most important amendment for this discussion may be the Ninth which states, "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." In other words, the founding fathers knew that there may be some rights or duties that they were not able to consider at the time of the framing of the Constitution and which may become necessary later on in the future and so they laid the framework for allowing more rights, more democracy in this first set of amendments known as the Bill of Rights.
In 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment was passed in which slavery was prohibited. It took until after the Civil War to pass the Fifteenth Amendment which extended the right to vote to former slaves and other ethnicities, but conspicuously continued to prohibit the right to vote for women. That right was not put into an amendment until 1920 with the Nineteenth Amendment. In 1965, in the twenty-sixth amendment we lowered the voting age to 18 years of age.
All throughout our history as society has changed, the Constitution has changed to adapt to the realities of the times. With the advent of the Internet, major changes are now taking place in society that may soon require another major democratic principle be added to our constitution. It is in the form of National Initiatives and Referenda to which I refer. This method of allowing the people themselves to create a proposition, place it on the ballot is valid in one way or another in 34 states and is used continually to adjust the state laws of these states who use this practice. If this right of voter participation in the creation of local laws is justified, then certainly, by any reading of the United States Constitution, it could easily become the method in the Federal Election Process.
This National Ballot Measure process could easily become the next amendment to the US Constitution. Logically, we cannot lower the voting age any lower. We cannot find any more minorities to enfranchise therefore, it is only the voting process itself that needs further clarification and adaptation in the Constitution. The Electoral College should be abolished since this is an antiquated form of determining a President, when the Popular Vote would be far more efficient and unquestioned. That form of electing a President has come close to an amendment many times in the past, but never reached a quorum. The only other form of voting that is worthy of mention is the way that votes could be cast by the electorate for or against National Ballot Measures. Since this is accomplished regularly by the states and no judicial body has ever been able to overturn this form of local democracy, it is reasonable to assume that no judicial body would ever be able to overturn the right of the people to vote directly on National Initiatives and Referenda, especially since this right is implied in the First, Ninth and Tenth Amendments.
With the advent of the Internet, the proposal process, the debate process, the refinement of these National Ballot Propositions would be an easy task and most Americans would be able to participate from the privacy and comfort of their homes. This is a revolutionary idea and one worthy of the Revolutionaries of 1776 who gave us this wonderful document that can be adapted easily and readily to the will of the people and the exigencies of the times.
As Thomas Jefferson wrote so eloquently in the United States Declaration of Independence, perhaps the most well known and well-beloved of any non-religious document: "That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."
Jefferson did not say that this should happen only once in our history. He didn't say that only his generation was allowed to make such radical changes, nor did he limit the range of new government or new principles that we could adopt. In fact, in subsequent writings he declared that it would be necessary for us to make such radical changes in every generation. Jefferson and the rest of the founding fathers emphasized only that public safety and the 'Pursuit of HappinessItalic text in the land be the over-riding consideration for all future changes.
Since we have now suffered through several Presidents in recent past who have completely ignored or actually disobeyed the will of the majority of the people in the United States, since we have suffered several Congresses who have ignored or completely disobeyed the will of the majority of people they are sworn to serve, since many recent laws of these United States have been written by Lobbyists and for the Industries that they serve and not by our elected representatives for the people they serve, is it not time to consider Real Democracy in America, wherein the people themselves shall be given the right to create some of the laws that they themselves must obey?
Is it not a fundamental right of any democracy, no matter how flawed in nature, to have a mechanism where the will of the majority of voters is made clear and can even become the law of the Land? Is it not a fundamental right of the people living today to have a way to make their own National Propositions, place them on the ballot and allow their fellow citizens the right to approve or disapprove of such solutions that are derived from the people themselves in order to give a benefit to the people? Is it not a fundamental right for the people of any nation to over-ride at least some of the most egregious acts of self-interest that their government may commit? Is it not a fundamental right of the American People to have a way to have their Grievances redressed as mentioned in the First Amendment of our Constitution?
Is it not a fundamental right for the American people to be extended a right to themselves that is not mentioned in their constitution specifically, but is reserved for the people as all rights are preserved for them as stated in the Ninth Amendment?
These seem to be the questions of the day. The world awaits an answer.