Figure 1: The relationship between political power and personal freedom
Placing excessive political power into the hands of a single individual, just a few individuals (such as a powerful, wealthy elite), or the simple majority as in majority-rule direct democracy all result in overly authoritarian government and a sharp decline in personal freedom. While power in our current authoritarian plutocracy must be shifted from the powerful, wealthy few that now hold and wield it toward a more egalitarian democratic distribution, our goal cannot be simply to achieve the maximum amount of democracy that is humanly possible.
Surrounded on every side and circumscribed by big government, big corporations, big labor, big media, big religion, and a tendency toward mass conformity and intolerance of differences, it is the freedom and uniqueness of the individual that are most vulnerable and endangered in the large modern state. What is the point of government if it is not to secure the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of the individual? Our goal must be to maximize the responsible personal power, freedom, and pursuit of happiness of everyone within a just, open, pluralistic society. In a sentence, we must overcome the tyranny of plutocracy and maximize the responsible freedom of the individual while avoiding the tyranny that an incorrectly designed democracy can become.
Direct democracy is indeed the answer to the problem of plutocracy. But given its pitfalls and limitations, we must design it carefully and choose very wisely what to include in it. Understand that it is by the inclusion in our government (or in any government) of just the right kind and amount of direct democracy that its representative branches are rendered truly representative, the tyranny of plutocracy is overcome, the democracy itself does not become a tyranny, and the responsible personal freedom of the individual is maximized.
At the heart of a correctly designed democracy lies a balanced distribution of limited powers that does not unduly favor anyone. No person or body may hold excessive power: not a single individual, not an organized few, not the wealthy, not the simple majority, and not the government as a whole.
As it turned out, discovering a government design that actually achieved this proved considerably more difficult than I had ever imagined when I first started pondering and working the problem decades ago. But I did manage to discover exactly that. This book is the result. Surprisingly, once discovered, once I finally saw the light, the solution proved elegantly simple. It involves a new branch for our government, a new kind of voting system, a new kind of democracy, a new honest electoral system, and giving the electorate direct control over a limited set of just the right powers.
In a moment I will continue my discussion of the shortcomings and pitfalls of majority-rule democracy, but I pause here briefly to ask a question. In a previous paragraph I used the phrase the responsible freedom of the individual. What do I mean by responsible freedom? This question is important because its answer involves yet another force that negatively affects freedom.
Freedom is not an absolute. When we live together in communities and nations one’s freedom is always limited by the rights of others. Most importantly, the individual’s freedom to accumulate power and wealth cannot be unlimited because unrestricted personal accumulation does not lead to the greatest measures of freedom for everyone and liberty in the nation. Those who hold advantage usually take even more advantage without limit reducing the rest of the populace to a state of disadvantaged servitude. It leads to the political and economic enslavement and exploitation of the many by the few.
This is where a lot of people stumble, particularly libertarians. Most of the libertarian view attracts: individual liberty and responsibility, a liberal free market economy, a small, efficient, less obtrusive government that does not become a welfare state, and some other good ideas. They then proceed to shoot themselves in the foot by insisting on the unlimited personal accumulation of wealth (which also translates into unlimited personal accumulation of power).
Unlimited accumulation is in direct conflict with the maximization of freedom and liberty for everyone, the greatest measure of freedom and liberty that can be achieved by a society as a whole. Freedom is not a singular entity but a limited constellation of freedoms, of tradeoffs. When one freedom is made into an absolute, other freedoms are necessarily diminished. While unlimited accumulation brightens one star in that constellation, it so diminishes several other stars that the overall brilliance of the constellation is degraded and liberty is lessened. Freedom and liberty are maximized by achieving just the right constellation of tradeoffs.
A society and government that arbitrarily and unnecessarily limits one’s dreams, aspirations, and achievements could hardly be considered to secure one’s liberty and pursuit of happiness or to be good or legitimate. A society and its government should create, secure, and nurture an environment or milieu that does not hamper but facilitates every person’s ability to blossom into his or her unique and fullest self-expression and excellence. Uniqueness, genius, and excellence must have their freedom. Anything less is suffocation.
But do not confuse “fullest self-expression and excellence” with unrestricted greed and unlimited accumulation of power and wealth. Do not confuse grabbing the most with being one’s best. Responsible personal freedom means each of us living within some limits we set upon ourselves in such a way as to maximize the freedom and liberty of everyone and of society as a whole. Responsible personal freedom also requires that each citizen exercise certain civic duties by participating directly within the government, something that will be discussed in due time.
In addition to becoming a tyranny in its own way, the tyranny of the simple majority of the electorate over the rest of the populace, majority-rule democracy involving the electorate’s voting on an unending stream of issues, if it were ever tried, would be found to be quite unable to overcome plutocracy. There are two fundamental reasons for this.
First, full, i.e., unlimited, democracy is not really possible. In the power-freedom relationship figure, Figure 1 above, both extremes in the distribution of power, perfect egalitarianism (the perfectly equal distribution of power) and perfect authoritarianism (all power held by one person) are not possible in real life. Even the most powerful dictator cannot be directly involved in the myriad details and decisions that must be made in a complex modern state. The dictator needs many, often secretly opposing, henchmen to manipulate the strings of the state. A similar situation hampers the egalitarian end of power distribution. In a complex modern state, the entire electorate simply cannot be directly involved in the myriad details and decisions that must be made. The best that can be achieved is a limited direct democracy in which the electorate deliberates and votes on a limited number of issues. They can be the nation’s most important issues, but there can only be a limited number of them.
Of necessity, we must depend on specialists, on elected and appointed officials, to handle the many details of governance. Government cannot only be a direct democracy but must include representative branches. This means it is not likely that we can entirely eliminate the problem of the elected few placing their self-interests and the interests of the wealthy few above the interests of the rest of the populace and the needs of the common weal. The best that we can do is to 1) reserve for the electorate direct decisions on the most critical issues of all that simply cannot be entrusted to representatives, 2) create an honest electoral process that results in representative bodies that demographically resemble and represent the entire electorate, 3) minimize the ability of officeholders to abuse their offices, and 4) minimize the extent to which wealthy corporations and individuals can use their wealth to overly influence and purchase the favors of government.
Achieving these things is not as impossible as past experience would seem to indicate. The partial redesign of the American government presented in this book effectively achieves these goals making our government immensely more honest and just than it is today.
Second, even with the stream of issues on which the electorate deliberates and votes majority-rule, referendum-style being necessarily limited, there are huge problems with the very fact that it is an unending stream, an endless series, of issues, problems that deeply interfere with this form of democracy’s ability to overcome plutocracy. Millions of voters would have no hope of understanding and voting their true self-interests in a complex, never-ending, exhausting political process manipulated by deceitful people with hidden agendas. Sly and cunning individuals and groups could and would bring to the table issues deviously written to hide their true intent. Manipulators could even introduce a blizzard of trivial, emotionally charged, “hot button” issues to distract the electorate from much more important issues. Like our political process today, only the most intelligent, sly, cunning, and unscrupulous could win what would be a complex, never-ending political war.
In an unrealistic, idealized scenario, which is decidedly not the case in real life, even if various individuals and groups thought themselves to be high-minded and to be honestly trying to promote the greater good as they understood it, an unending stream of referendums on issues would strongly favor the desires and actions of the most doggedly politically active among us, those for whom political ideas and actions are all-consuming. Such people are often the most radical among us. Thus, the radical is favored over the moderate view, the divisive and polarizing over the consensus building. And referendums in a situation such as today where the entire electorate is not required to vote can be passed by a relative minority of the electorate, usually a radical minority.
We face these problems in the political arena today both in the area of the raising and giving of funds for political purposes and in the creation, presentation, and passage of referendums. When investigated using often difficult detective work, groups with the most innocent and idealistic names and professed intentions are usually found to have devious, self-serving intent.
In addition to the mind-boggling complexity of an unending stream of politically manipulated issues, there is the simple matter of time, effort, and will. Most of us lead busy personal and work lives. As important as it is to be conscientious citizens, most of us are simply not interested in making politics a centerpiece of our lives. Most members of the electorate would not be willing to spend the many hours or make the large effort that would be required to adequately study, deliberate, and vote on an unending stream of issues.
Clearly, the correct repair for our current plutocracy in which the few dominate, mislead, and exploit the many is not a majority-rule, referendum-style direct democracy with an endless stream of issues. It would only result in the dual tyranny of a misguided, oppressive simple majority or radical minority that is continuously manipulated and outmaneuvered by those who serve and are first and best served by a tenacious, underlying plutocracy. We would end up with the worst of democracy coupled with the worst of plutocracy.
So! What is a correct and adequate solution to the above constellation of problems that, in various forms, plagues all of the world’s governments and every level of government? More generally, what is a correct and adequate solution to the problem of governance? How can political power be shifted away from the few and toward the many without creating an even bigger mess than we have today but creating instead vastly improved governance?
If communism, socialism, fascism, totalitarianism, petty dictatorship, monarchy, aristocracy, theocracy, parliamentarianism, republicanism, what passes for democracy today, and even majority-rule, referendum-style direct democracy, were it ever really tried, are merely various forms of tyrannical authoritarian plutocracy based upon an underlying biological dominance of the many by a strong, organized few, then, if we really want to transcend this elemental condition and create a new, just relationship and way of being, our only course is to invent and try something new. That “something new” is what this book is about, a government design that takes our nation and humankind beyond dominance, authoritarianism, and plutocracy and toward a truly democratic political process that produces a just relationship among us, maximum personal freedom, and good governance.
I use a pragmatic approach for this government design: 1) Rather than discussing government design in the abstract, I focus mainly on the design and repair of that government I know best, the American government. Adapted to the needs of other locals, this design and repair is directly applicable to all the world’s governments and to every level of government. 2) Rather than constructing an entirely new government that may appear too alien to people, I only partially redesign our current government, fixing what is most fundamentally wrong with it. 3) I do not attempt to mend all of our nation’s many political, economic, and social ills. I only repair what is most wrong with our government. This repair then makes it possible for us to repair—it even facilitates our repair of—our many other problems. 4) My design does not rest upon some idealistic philosophy or imagined otherworldly reality but upon our actual human condition here and now. 5) Rather than hoping for and depending on high-minded, altruistic behavior or suffocating conformity, I create a robust government structure and function that, short of insurrection or coup, can function well even with our current personal defects, shortcomings, and differences.
We begin the repair of our government by examining what the founders did. The founders wisely created a government containing three branches, divided powers, and checks and balances. They abhorred direct democracy as the rule of the mob and excluded it from their government in the making. Instead they embraced the republican form with its election of “representatives.” But, given an electoral system that is a set of loaded dice that overwhelmingly favors the wealthy (as described earlier), there exists no mechanism by which non-wealthy and minority members of the populace may select for office people who truly represent them. Thus, the wealthy and the wealth-serving hold a permanent hegemony of power within all three branches, and, doing what comes naturally, pursuing self-interest, they use the powers of government to serve themselves and their wealthy clients first and best. There exists within our government no political body within which the rest of the populace may come together as a political force that may effectively pursue its own self-interest and oppose, check the powers of, and counterbalance the hegemony of power held by the elite.
From this we can see that the first step in a correct repair of our government is to add to it a political body within which the rest of the populace may come together as a political force that may effectively pursue its self-interests and oppose, check the powers of, and counterbalance the hegemony of power held by the elite. From earlier discussion we know that this new body cannot practice majority-rule democracy, for that would only result in the tyranny of the simple majority over the rest of the populace.
After many years of examining the problem of achieving just governance and “the good society” and much mental trial and error, I have come to realize that while fixing our current mess we can do much better than merely bringing the many into government in a way that creates a state of permanent discord and polarization between the many and the elite. We can add to our government a new political body that achieves the consensus of the entire electorate, changing the very nature and function of the whole government, transforming it (or any government) from a plutocracy into a true democracy. This is where we really begin to look beyond current thinking and create something new under the sun.
Politically, the body that is most representative of the entire populace of a society is not the elite few and not the simple majority but an electorate constituted of every of-age, able member of the society. The supreme difficulty and the most important task of every nation on the planet is to take some but not all political power away from the dominating few and to place that power firmly and permanently not into the hands of the simple political majority but directly into the hands of the entire electorate.
Understand clearly; majority-rule direct democracy does not place power into the hands of the entire electorate but only into the hands of the simple majority. It produces winners and losers, and only the winners truly hold the power. To place power into the hands of the entire electorate a new kind of direct democracy is required.
But first we must get the electorate into our government. That political power may be placed directly into the hands of the entire electorate and it may function as a political whole, a new political body must be created within which the electorate may exist and function. In later chapters this political body containing the entire electorate will be formally defined and added to our government as a new fourth branch called the demos (pronounced like democrat). For now we will just use the basic concept of a demos consisting of the entire electorate.
The political power exercised by the demos must in part be created anew and in part be extracted from the currently existing legislative and executive branches of our government and shifted over to the demos, thus lessening their powers from amounts held today. To wisely divide and limit powers—and to limit the power of the government as a whole!—the power of the demos, the direct democracy branch of the government, must be limited and exercised in such a way as to not overpower but to counterbalance and compliment the powers of the other branches, the representative democracy branches, of the government, whose currently limited powers become even more limited under this partial redesign.
Given that the so-called representative democracies of today are really only plutocracies, one might harbor the thought that our emerging altered form of government could be said to consist of limited direct democracy judiciously balanced with limited plutocracy. However, it will be found in due time that adding just the right kind and amount of direct democracy to our government effectively tames and redeems the plutocratic beast, rendering the representative branches truly representative of the entire electorate. So our emerging altered form of government really is best described as limited direct democracy judiciously balanced with limited representative democracy.
Just the right kind and amount of direct democracy is added to our government and the demos is rendered usable by a busy electorate of varying capability in four fundamental ways: 1) The demos is permanently assigned only a small, fixed set of political-economic issues of central importance to our nation. 2) While of central importance to our nation, its issues are easy to present clearly and voters can readily understand their true self-interests. 3) The demos has an elegantly simple method of voting. 4) The electorate does not practice the majority-rule, “winner-take-all” democracy of today but consensus democracy, a new kind of democracy of my own devising that will be defined and discussed later. It is sufficient for now to say that using consensus democracy the demos automatically achieves within its limited sphere of power not merely the consensus of a simple majority but of the entire electorate on its included issues.
Since the demos can handle only a few issues, it is of supreme importance that the issues are chosen wisely. They must be those among our nation’s most central, important, and fundamental issues 1) that are the most badly or unjustly handled by the current branches of government and 2) that lend themselves admirably to just resolution within the demos. To our good fortune, the handful of issues that best meet these criteria are the most important and fundamental issues of all. All other issues run a distant second at best.
For all of their lesser faults, our government and nation have two major areas of injustice and failure that most need to be corrected:
First, recall an earlier paragraph: The single greatest scam and failure of our nation’s current political system is its electoral system. It lies at the root of most of our failures as a society including our inability to achieve honest representation of the entire populace in government. More than anything else, it keeps powerful, wealthy elites in the seats of power and in a position to perpetrate many other scams against the rest of the populace including, for example, a tax system that overwhelmingly favors the wealthy.
The demos must include an entirely new electoral system from that which we have today that empowers all members of the electorate to freely run for office and to elect to office people who resemble and truly represent them.
Second, while power may be and is exerted in many ways—physical, political, economic, social, psychological, etc.—the overall intent and result is primarily economic warfare that the few wage against the rest of the populace. There are those among the elite who (at least publicly) cringe or boil at this characterization of their actions, and the whole business could be expressed more benignly, but the bottom line is that too much economic power is held by too few people who then use that power to economically manipulate and exploit the rest of the populace.
Therefore, certain economic powers of central importance must be removed from the existing ‘representative’ branches of government and placed permanently into the hands of the electorate within the demos.
Thus, it is electoral and economic powers that are placed directly into the hands of the electorate in the demos. Practicing its consensus democracy, the electorate directly deliberates, votes, and achieves consensus on a fixed set of twelve issues—three electoral issues and nine economic issues. These issues were listed and discussed briefly in the introduction and will be discussed at length later. I list them here to refresh your memory as I continue my discussion of this chapter’s main topic, the reorganization of the powers of our government.
In the three electoral issues, in an entirely new electoral system from that which we have today, the electorate directly elects the president, all senators, and all representatives:
Election of the president
Election of senators
Election of representatives
And the electorate directly deliberates, votes, and achieves consensus that becomes law on the following nine economic issues:
Overall federal tax rate (which, over time, determines the size of the federal government)
Division of the tax burden among three tax revenue sources: corporations and businesses, personal incomes, and inheritances
Corporate and business tax scale
Personal income tax scale
Inheritance tax scale
Hours in the workweek
Amount of federal debt or savings
Portion of federal tax revenue for the military, healthcare, other entitlements, and all other government functions
Adding a new fourth branch to our government consisting of a demos in which the entire electorate, rather than elected representatives in the other branches of government, directly handles the above electoral and economic issues moves us significantly toward a balance of government powers that does not unduly favor a powerful, wealthy few. But majority-rule democracy does not place power into the hands of the entire electorate. It places power into the hands of a simple majority of the electorate. It produces winners and losers, and only the winners truly hold the power. To achieve the consensus of the entire electorate on the demos issues, we turn to consensus democracy.
I discussed consensus democracy briefly in the introduction, and I will discuss it in detail in later chapters. I will only touch upon enough here to continue my discussion of the reorganization of the powers of our government.
Most political questions are of a yes/no, majority-rule nature, e.g., should the nuclear plant be built, yes or no? The majority vote wins, and all other voters lose. But there is a class of questions of a numerical nature that may be presented and processed in a way that results in a consensus of the entire electorate. To our good fortune some questions in this numerical class are of central importance to our society (or to any society).
Take for example a question the members of the electorate really would be handling in the demos: As a nation how much should we tax ourselves to finance the federal government? The question (or issue, as I call it) is actually presented in the form: Should we increase, keep as is, or decrease the overall amount we tax ourselves in support of the federal government?
At the heart of consensus democracy lies a surprisingly simple voting system based on the traffic signal colors green (increase), yellow (keep as is), and red (decrease). Even though all nine of the economic issues in the demos are numerical in nature, voters never come in contact with any mathematics. For each economic issue, each member simply selects green (increase), yellow (keep as is), or red (decrease). Demos computers tally our votes and convert the tallies into numeric values representing the consensus of the entire electorate, not just the simple majority. (See Appendix 1 for a detailed discussion of this process.)
Voting in the demos is not periodic as with today’s elections but ongoing. And voting in the demos is not merely a right of each adult citizen but a civic duty. (Otherwise we could not achieve the consensus of the entire electorate.) It is the duty of each member of the electorate to keep a vote continuously “riding” on each demos issue, which he or she may conveniently change at any time from almost anywhere.
In an endless cycle, every few seconds demos computers recount all votes and do mathematical calculations using the vote tallies. Every vote always counts. Every vote always has an equal and continuing effect on the ever current demos consensus. As demographics, conditions, and our decisions change, the consensus of the electorate on each demos issue slowly varies over time, avoiding the extremes and hovering around a moderate norm, like temperature regulation and heartbeat in our bodies. Taken collectively, the demos issues function like the interactive, self-orchestrating systems in a living organism. The electorate uses the demos as a tool to achieve a slowly changing consensus on a few values, a moderate “golden mean,” that our government and nation must use as they function, keeping our society functioning smoothly and evolving peacefully over time.
The electorate has the sole power to tax at the federal level. It sets the overall size and distribution of the tax burden. And it sets the minimum wage, the length of the “standard workweek,” and the amount of national debt or savings. The electorate also controls the portion of tax revenues that are allocated to four major areas of the government. The representative branches then further fine tune distributions and set budgets within these four areas. By its revenue allocations the electorate controls the overall size of the military over time. It would be ill advised and difficult for our elected leaders to venture into or attempt to continue a war that did not enjoy the support of the populace. The electorate also controls the portion of revenue allocated to entitlements. This gives the electorate direct control over how generous it wishes to be with its money.
The demos includes an entirely new electoral system that is completely open, free, honest, and fair. Our current periodic elections (including primaries), the Electoral College (which currently elects the president), and all state electoral district systems are completely scrapped. The president and all senators are elected by direct popular vote from the nation at-large, and each state’s quota of representatives is elected from the state at-large.
In a manner similar to the nine economic issues, voting on the three demos electoral issues is not periodic but ongoing. Each demos member keeps a vote riding on a candidate for president, a candidate for senator, and a candidate for representative, that, save for one limitation discussed in a later chapter, he or she may change at any time. The actual seating of candidates in office, the length of terms, etc. are also discussed later. Right now our focus is the reorganization of the powers of our government.
The free, ongoing, at-large demos electoral system empowers any number of candidates (who need not be wealthy or wealth supported) to take any amount of time to run for office for free and build a following. Members of the electorate may take any amount of time to study and deliberate about candidates and to reach out to each other across states or the entire nation to directly elect their champions, truly representative officeholders that resemble them in body, mind, interests, and pocketbook. No member of the electorate is stuck selecting a “lesser evil” from a small group preselected by the wealthy as is done today. All voters support their goods, their champions, those who resemble and truly represent them.
During the ongoing demos electoral process, candidates for office will be long scrutinized and well known by the demos members who support them before they finally gain office. Candidates are not dependent on campaign contributions, and elected officeholders need not be indebted to big money. And officeholders, including their voting records, will be watched most carefully. With one limitation discussed later, demos members can withdraw their support of a candidate or officeholder at any time.
The demos electoral system results in the honest representation of all members of the electorate in the representative branches of government. The senate and the house automatically demographically resemble and truly serve the balanced interests of the entire electorate. No quota systems, political parties, or complex electoral schemes are required. People just get to freely choose who they really want to represent them.
The combined use by the members of the electorate of their electoral and economic powers would profoundly affect the nature and function of the representative branches of the government. The now truly representative branches that result from the demos electoral process will in part dismantle and in part modify the current arsenal of laws and rules that the elite have created to serve themselves first and best. Using the economic values set directly by the demos and mindful of demos deliberations on a host of other issues, they will create new laws and rules governing corporations, business and labor practices, interest groups, campaign contributions, the use of the mass media, environmental policy, etc. that serve all of us.
Individuals and groups would still be able to petition the representative branches of government for favors and favored legislation. But very likely corporations will face imposed limits on political involvement and influence, the wealthy will be less wealthy and powerful, the ‘poor’ will be less poor and powerless, and now they all face elected bodies that demographically resemble and serve not just the wealthy but the entire electorate.
Limiting demos lawmaking to a fixed set of economic and electoral issues focuses the electorate’s attention and capabilities on those issues that are the greatest sources of current injustice and inequity in our nation that lend themselves to just resolution in the demos. And it avoids the serious mistake of including a large number or an open-ended stream of complex, subjective issues that are best handled by other areas of government and in other parts of society. Creating law on difficult, subtle social issues by popular referendum is a huge mistake. Simplistic, ill-designed, self-serving referendums are usually proposed and supported by moneyed, organized, radical corporations and interest groups that deviously manipulate unsuspecting others to win their way. The result is really bad laws that serve personal gain at the expense of others, crush individuality, and foster excessive conformity.
Laws regarding complex social issues are best created by legislative bodies whose members are selected in demos-style elections. The bodies demographically resemble and serve the entire electorate, and their members can gain or lose the support of the electorate. As a result of demos deliberations legislators are informed as to the true thoughts of the members of the electorate on issues. Within the give and take of the legislative process, all competing interests and ideas are wisely considered, balanced, and coherently fitted to other new and existing legislation and law.
Once the senate and house demographically resemble the entire electorate, it is important that they function in a sufficiently democratic manner to truly serve the entire electorate. Two proposals in this book are designed to make the senate and the house more democratic by breaking up their current “old-boys’ clubs” with their excessive concentrations of power and self-serving legislative rules and processes: 1) All current systems of seniority and appointment in the senate and the house are scrapped, all committee and other chairs and positions being filled by the secret voting of their entire memberships. 2) All rules regarding parliamentary and legislative processes within the senate and the house are determined by the secret voting of their entire memberships. The debate of and voting on legislation being proposed and considered by congress remain public.
Discussed in detail later, the selection of Supreme Court justices is placed entirely into the hands of congress, and the selection process is changed in a way that transforms the composition of the court into one that does not vacillate wildly between liberal and conservative as it does today but consistently demographically resembles the entire electorate and represents the full spectrum of the electorate’s interests as it interprets the Constitution and law.
Please clearly understand the difference between the redistribution of power within our government and the redistribution of wealth within our society. Not one penny of wealth is redistributed by the government design presented here. This book is not about what choices should be made about certain issues of central importance to our nation but about who should make them. The entire electorate is empowered to directly make a few choices of central importance that are currently made by a powerful few.
Under our current government, by the use of business, electoral, tax, legislative, regulatory, and other means, powerful elites permanently control the overall distribution of wealth in America. The foxes oversee the chicken coop. The result is some very fat foxes and a lot of very lean chickens.
Under the partial redesign presented here, by the economic and electoral choices that it makes, the electorate is empowered to profoundly influence our nation’s overall distribution of wealth if it so chooses. Once empowered, I believe the electorate would choose less inequality in the distribution of wealth than the elite choose today. The electorate would not vote in a way that creates obscene concentrations of wealth in the face of abject poverty.
But remember, in the demos the electorate does not practice majority-rule democracy in which the simple majority could overwhelm and defeat the rest of the populace including the elite. Consensus democracy always results in the moderate consensus of the entire electorate. The votes of many members of the electorate on the demos issues—on tax levies, etc.—would tend to increase the inequality in our nation’s distribution of wealth while the votes of others would tend to decrease the inequality. Over time, the many opposing votes result in values that are held in a just moderate balance, a state of dynamic equilibrium.
There would still be significant inequality in the distribution of wealth. This is good. A market economy requires incentive for entrepreneurship and labor. Just as today, how much wealth each person possessed within the overall distribution would depend on accident of birth and on a person’s talents, ambitions, study, hard work, and luck. Consensus government empowers the electorate and our nation to achieve an unequal but equitable and functional distribution of wealth and honest reward for honest work.
In addition to setting right our government’s current mal-distribution of power, the government design presented here also repairs our divisive political process. Rather than pulling us apart into angry, polarized, gridlocked fragments as our political process does today, it brings us together in a single political body specifically designed to achieve our consensus on our most important issues and honest representation in the other branches of government. In doing this, it makes possible and even facilitates the correction or mitigation of most of our nation’s other political, economic, and social ills.
This design places our greatest trust where it really belongs, on a true consensus achieved among all of us. Along with our better qualities, everyone from the political and economic mighty to average citizens and groups of them harbor greed, selfishness, bias, prejudice, hard-headed unjustness, unreasonableness, and shortsightedness. Our trust is best placed not in the supposed wisdom of a powerful wealthy few, the simple majority, or any other faction of the populace but in the direct deliberations of and a consensus achieved by the electorate as a whole in the demos and in the deliberations and compromises among representatives in the other branches of government who are fairly elected by and who fairly represent the entire electorate. Our working together within an honest government of judiciously balanced powers will produce our greatest wisdom in those matters that most concern all of us.
There are more ramifications to this redistribution of government powers than first meet the eye. As consensus democracy, the demos, and its included issues are discussed at length in following chapters, the full measure of power placed into the hands of the electorate will come to be appreciated.
Beyond Plutocracy - Direct Democracy for America
© Copyright 2001-2017 Roger D Rothenberger