Dreaming of a better democracy

To the Editor:

I had a dream last night that our democracy today looked like our forefathers intended – a government run “for the people, by the people.” In my dream, it was a time where our elected officials were selfless, hardworking individuals who (due to the new voting rules) were able to work together as one cohesive body, because their only role in Congress was to educate themselves on the bills and resolutions coming up and to then advise their constituents accordingly.

In this dream, there were no political parties, and our representatives (including the president) were no longer influenced by the dogma of a particular party, lobbyists, or their own self-interests for re-election. Their vote could not be bought or sold because they no longer owned it. In reality, our vote is truly the most valued right we have as citizens, and we have seen that too many times the people we have entrusted with this treasure abuse it and use it for their own purposes instead of ours. This is not to say that there aren’t some good intentioned and honest members of congress left (aka Scott Brown), but sadly the culture that is now Washington makes it impossible for even good people to be able to truly make a difference anymore.

In my dream, once elected, our representatives (using all of the latest technology and social media at their disposal) are able to advise their constituents of upcoming bills and resolutions, explain how they will impact them personally (as a state and a country), and then allow us (via this media) to actually tell them how to vote on our behalf. The representative then just becomes our mouthpiece to go back to Washington and vote as we tell them to without the negative influences that can now sway their vote. This would take the pressure off of them to have to align themselves to a particular party or group. It would foster a greater sense of civility among legislators and allow all citizens to finally feel like they have a voice in government.

Of course, not everyone within a state will agree on how to vote but (in what is the American way), majority rules. If someone decides not to participate, this is their choice, although they also lose their right to complain. As a realist, I realize that (with such a system) a lot of safeguards would have to be in place to insure that each vote cast was from a valid citizen, unbiased, etc., but I am confident this could be worked out in the design process. Think of all the talented Gen X/Y-ers it would put to work.Well, it was at this time I woke up to the din of a TV in a darkened room. Ironically, there was yet another political ad of one candidate ruthlessly bashing another to the degree (I have to say) I have never witnessed in my many years. I reflected on how it would no longer be necessary if we could take our vote back from the politicians and put it back where it belongs – with us.While we are fast approaching the time we traditionalists and baby boomers need to hand over the reins of government to the next generation, I truly wish we could give them a better medium in which to conduct the people’s business, because what we have now is truly not working and hasn’t for a long time. Abraham Lincoln stated, in a campaign speech, that “a house divided against itself, cannot stand.” How prophetic?

Jean Kelleher

West Tisbury