Friday, May 14, 2010

133 / Democracy #2

If "democracy" is a decision making system in which "we, the people" have control over the government (which is the mechanism by which "we" act collectively), how do "we," collectively, decide what our government is going to do?

I, personally, equate "democracy" with "majority rule," but that is not the official position of the people of the State of California. California voters have decided (by a majority vote, incidentally) that it takes a two-thirds vote to raise or spend money, and since almost any kind of legislative enactment that is truly important, including, of course, the adoption of our state budget, requires us to raise and/or spend money, imposing a two-thirds vote requirement on such decisions is an incredibly effective mechanism for eliminating democratic choice. The two-thirds vote requirement doesn't mean "minority rule," since a minority cannot itself make any positive decision. But it does mean an end to "majority rule." It means that our government will always be much better equipped to say "no" than to say "yes."

In fact, the premise of the anti-democratic, two-thirds vote requirement is that government is not our way to do something positive, but an oppressive and outside force that we need to limit and constrain. Are "we" better off when "we," collectively, are prevented from doing things that the majority of us think would be a good idea? Well, the answer that Californians have given to this question, is "yes," and whether anyone realizes it or not, this comes from a view that sees "government" as doing more harm than good; that sees us, mainly, as a grouping of individuals, where the individuals are the most important, and our collective life together is less so.

So, we don't solve our collective problems, because we have ensured that our "government" is mainly able to stop things from happening, not to start things happening!

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