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PUPPET MASTERS AND SECRET OATHS > Is the referendum model a way to create a fairer political system?

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message 1: by James, Group Founder (last edited Jul 06, 2018 08:47AM) (new)

James Morcan | 11350 comments Someone else posted in the group this comment that got me thinking "My personal view is the whole election process should be changed because there are too many single issues, and some of these should be settled with separate votes. That would mean more referenda, which, I guess, takes us closer to democracy."

Are referenda one potential way to make politicians and all their secret affiliations and conflicts, and the overall corporatocracy, irrelevent?

What I am wondering here is can we somehow demote politicians to something like administrators where they no longer make so many important decisions on our behalf?

And why is it there was a referendum on something like BREXIT in the UK, but then not on potentially even more important issues in the UK, US or other countries...major decisions like beginning the Iraq/Afghan Wars or bailing out PRIVATE banks and financial institutions with taxpayer's money under Obama, for example?

What if we had a system in place where the public can call a referendum on any issue whatsoever and where the public's voting results can override/overturn politicians' decisions?

It seems this could be a more democratic process?

Apparently the Swiss have a system whereby frequent referenda are held on individual issues...

This is how Switzerland’s direct democracy works https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/0...

Switzerland referendum model | Swiss democratic system https://www.news.com.au/world/europe/...

And Down Under in AU and NZ we have ways to force a referendum, I think...

Constitutional Referenda in Australia – Parliament of Australia https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliame...

message 2: by Jon (last edited Jul 06, 2018 11:06AM) (new)

Jon Roland | 22 comments The simple answer is no. Most referenda are not competently worded. They are generally confused and often counterproductive. There is not a debate process to hammer out the flaws before the proposition is issued. Most would require years of debate, and most of the debaters would be partisans who lack analytic skills or the disposition to use them. There generally are no experts, and the original proponents are seldom expert. Nor do they know how to find experts.

Proposed amendments to the U.S. Constitution are instructive. Other than the first ten written by Madison, most have been incompetent, and were appropriately rejected. Constitutional amendments are extremely difficult to formulate competently. Only the very simple ones have worked and usually not well.

The best amendments are written by geniuses who know the entire constitution. Madison may have been the last of those.

Don't get hung up on representivity. Competence is more important Otherwise the propositions will not fulfill what the proponents think they want.

message 3: by George (new)

George | 13 comments Would you consider geniuses, or experts, to be elite? And how is competence then to be evaluated, and by whom? Experts? I suppose it truly depends on your perception of the worth and rights of a human being, whether they are deserving of choice or freedom, regardless of their status, capabilities, or education. Even experts are astoundingly capable of misjudgement and narrow mindedness. It's not about competence, it's about the chance for decision, for all, and for all to be able to be heard for what they believe and see.
Also, you seem to have a highly specific data set for a concept that can be broadly interpreted. Are you drawing these conclusions regarding the components of a referendum based system from a particular example?

message 4: by James, Group Founder (new)

James Morcan | 11350 comments George wrote: "It's not about competence, it's about the chance for decision, for all, and for all to be able to be heard for what they believe and see...."


message 5: by Jon (new)

Jon Roland | 22 comments This statement shows the problem.

"It's not about competence, it's about the chance for decision, for all, and for all to be able to be heard for what they believe and see...."

If someone gives people a chance to decide among pills to take, some of which are deadly poisons, that is a "chance for decision", but not a deliberative or informed decision. Especially when one of the poison pills is presented in a favorable light.

Who are the experts? The people have to decide, but they need to hear from them in a thorough deliberative process.

See Counterintuitive Behavior of Social Systems, by Jay Forrester. http://constitution.org/ps/cbss.pdf People are not very good at solving complicated social problems, which all referendum decisions are. They will almost always get it wrong.

The examples I have in mind are referendum propositions that have them, such as California and Texas. The basic problems are that proponents control the wording, which is usually misstated on the ballot, and there is no opportunity to revise them. The only choice the people have is to vote them down, which they often do. There is no debate or revision process for the wording.

Consider some specific examples: One Texas proposition removed the power to command state militia from the governor, but assigned it to no one else. Who could do it? The Attorney General? The Commander of the State Guard? The result is to default to the 254 county sheriffs.

Another proposition required county sheriffs to be "certified law enforcement officers". Sounds like a good idea, but it's not. It puts sheriffs under the control of the certifying bodies, which are not going to allow sheriffs to challenge state officials.

Be careful what you ask for. Unintended consequences are everywhere.

message 6: by James, Group Founder (last edited Jul 07, 2018 09:55AM) (new)

James Morcan | 11350 comments I don't think there will be any single fix for the mess we are in now but clearly the people are feeling they have less and less of a voice in this rigged political system.

Referenda might have prevented some unnecessary post WW2 wars, tho? I recall, for example, the UK's support was crucial in allowing the US to disregard the rest of the United Nations countries who disagreed with them about supposed "proof of WMDs" in Iraq and the need to invade Iraq. British Prime Minister Tony Blair made the very unpopular decision to support Bush and go to war. Had there been a referendum in the UK, the British people could have stopped Blair and Bush would have had no support at all...Many analysts say the US could not have begun that war without the immense British support they received under PM Blair.

Yes, sometimes the common people can be misled as you imply, however there are many other times where the masses deserve their say and can smell elitism or BS from the ruling classes. Sometimes the theory of "the wisdom of the crowd" can prove to be true... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wisdom_...

There is a book on that also, which I've not read...

The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations

message 7: by Jon (new)

Jon Roland | 22 comments Bush did not need British support. The issue was a violation of the truce tat prevented the U.S. from deposing Saddam in the Gulf War.

message 8: by Jon (new)

Jon Roland | 22 comments "The wisdom of crowds" is misleading. The "crowd" is not always wiser. Depends on the issue, and how it is worded. Most changes to complex systems need to be carefully designed.

message 9: by George (new)

George | 13 comments The way I see it, referendum is merely the basis for a more complex political scheme. Fine tune the system to the specific situation with a framework derived from the essence of referendum, that being the direct hand and involvement of the people in their social and political world. The barriers you present are indeed considerable, but not, I think, insurmountable.

message 10: by James, Group Founder (last edited Jul 07, 2018 09:12PM) (new)

James Morcan | 11350 comments I gotta agree, George...And the point is referendas will not be the total solution, far from it...But outside the US I notice the population of a number of countries around the world seem fairly satisfied with increasing referendas available to them.

The US Constitution is a fantastic document, but like anything it's not perfect. There are obviously many things the Founding Fathers could not have foreseen...

message 11: by George (new)

George | 13 comments The US Constitution, a revolutionary document in its time, and while still relevant, I wonder if the time has come for new revolutionary thought. I believe that change is possible and can work, but the solution will be not be simply attained.

message 12: by Jon (new)

Jon Roland | 22 comments Most of the suggested changes are not improvements. Tend to be socialistic. See http://constitution.org/reform/us/con... for some good ones.

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