Tuesday, November 11, 2008

It's Called a Representative Democracy

OK, so I'm back, with about a million things to say, but I'll stick to one this morning, in the interest of time. However, I will whet your appetite quickly first. Coming soon: Aubergine House Take II- the Japanese depiction; Rocky Mountain National Park- pictures; and much more!

A friend of mine, a very smart but generally relatively quiet friend, sent the following message this morning:

"I don't usually get involved in things like this, but I am for once.
"There's a website which is asking everyone to make suggestions for the new government:http://www.change.gov/yourvisionI don't know if they will actually pay attention, but they might, and I haven't seen a lot said about this; I happened on it in a blog, and I think it's worth telling people about. "

Immediately, I had mixed feelings. I'm glad we have a President-Elect who really, and I do believe this, believe it or not, cares what We the People want and need from our government. (Though every time he calls me the Middle Class, or America in general the Middle Class, I get a little closer to wanting to discuss the definition of "middle class" with him.) Our President should care.

However, here is the meat of this sticky situation, as I returned to my friend:

"That's a tough one... the idea of suggestions for the new government. I mean, aren't we supposed to elect people to go represent us, and aren't those people supposed to represent our suggestions? For the most part? Having been involved in government at several levels, I know it's sometimes hard; I've had to make decisions I was certain were for the best of everyone down the road at the expense of the immediate gratification of my block of constituents, but..."

And there it is, peeps. We live in a big country in many smaller but still big states, with bigger populations, and all of that larger than when the Founding Fathers wrote our Constitution, and the bottom line is, for the most part, at the federal level we are supposed to be electing ladies and gentlemen from our states of residence to go to Washington DC to talk about our common problems and needs and what works and what doesn't and how our Government can take care of those common areas of interest that we cannot undertake on our own, individually, or as smaller governmental entities, ie. at the state or local level.
Amongst all this is our President, the head of the Executive Branch of our Government, and that person, also being part of the process, should care and ask the people what their problems and suggested solutions are, but there are inherent difficulties in doing that via a website.

First, we are stepping out of 8 years of a Presidential administration that assumed far more authority than would normally be allowed under the system of checks and balances that were set forth for this country, sometimes subversively, sometimes covertly, sometimes with outright disregard for the law of the land. The President does not actually wield that much power- or is not supposed to. In setting up a website in which the people go directly to the President with their gripes or alternatives to the way things are running now, is inviting that level of authority to continue, at the risk of our representative democracy and carefully crafted system of three branches of government.

This is not to say that I think Obama intends to or would assume the dictatorial stance that our outgoing President has done, but this move encourages the people to continue to think of the President's role in their lives as more important than anyone else's in government. Which leads me to:

Second, and possibly most importantly, if the people continue to view their government as one in which the President is Boss, this lessens the role of the people they are supposed to be assembling in Washington to represent them. And those people will continue to be held less and less accountable in matters of government. People, Senator Stevens of Alaska being voted in for another term hot on the heels of seven felony charges for which he was found guilty? WHAT?! As the polls show over and over the contempt, or at least lack of favour for Congress by the American people, I can't help but wonder why those same people keep electing those they feel do not represent them and they don't trust, to office? And why Americans don't get more involved and consider running for office at some level as their own civic duty? And that brings me to my concluding thought:

Actually, maybe it's a complete wash anyway. When I think of this website the President-Elect's office has set up (which I checked out and is not yet available), I imagine countless Sarah Palin supporters and laypersons who would like to define for all of us when a human actually becomes a human giving their opinions on how government should work next, and I shudder. I think Mr. Obama has better things to do with his time, given the current state of our Country, than check the suggestion box every day at breakfast.

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