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matt

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null on eight [Nov. 3rd, 2008|08:02 pm]
matt
You'd think with the "Yes on 8" people screaming outside my window all day (and well into the evening), I'd be "Numb on 8".

I've come to have a distinct loathing for California's idea of direct democracy. All elections are popularity contests: but when you're talking about a faceless bill, where the content would seem to have a chance against the gilded smile, yet still it's less about what is right and more about how well you want to define your peer group.

Both sides of prop 8 see themselves as doing something which is unequivocally right- not an arguable position, no room for reason or thought. (If you confront either side with such a fact, they will become offended at the suggestion their position is not the pinnacle of reason and right.) Most people are completely incapable of arguing convincingly the opposite position of any of these bills without resorting to their favorite straw man, or revealing their complete unfamiliarity with either position. And even fewer, I fear, are able to reasonably project what the world will look like weeks, months, or years from now if each of these bills pass.

So, what's with all the yelling? Who is convinced? No one, in reality- it's an opportunity to blow off steam, to feel like you're counted, to feel like you matter. This is what happens when we move away from being fat and happy consumers. The yelling? Well, it's understandable in that light. But only the quiet act of voting is all that matters, all that makes you actually counted, actually matter. In order to matter, too, you need to understand what you're voting for. You need to see what the world will look like in the future, contingent on that yes. And the reality is that few people, as always, actually do.

The supposed beauty of hiring/voting for a representative is that that person is supposed to speak for you, to do the work you couldn't hope to have time to act upon. You bring a lawyer before the law when at risk. This is why we have representative democracy, rather than just turning every bill, every trial, into a similar, expensive screaming match.

Think, too, about how many homeless could be fed on what has been spent on Prop 8. Think how many struggling church programs could be funded. Is this how we want to use our time? Is this a good use of the cudgel of constitutional amendment?

Well, tomorrow, it's all over for a short while, until we have to endure the next round. And, you'll all have to find the next impassioned cause to scream mindlessly about, convincing no one, signifying naught more that a few quiet moments at the ballot machine could easily have accomplished. And perhaps, eventually, more people will begin to think twice about making every matter a popular referendum, and take more time instead to hire and elect effective, genuine representation.
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[User Picture]From: hbergeronx
2008-11-04 02:16 pm (UTC)
Gerrymandering was originally introduced to give minority voices a greater say by allowing them to aggregate their voice into one district to ensure they had sufficient numbers to elect a representative in at least one district. Of course, it means in practical terms that means it became a power to ensure re-election.

That said, the incumbent voice from any given district is still representative of that district, and it doesn't matter how you slice the map, it's still representative of the people of that segment. Perpetuating the idea that that makes the election "rigged" is just a sly way of saying "don't bother- the vote doesn't matter, (and anyway, all the really important votes are done by ballot measure anyway)".

The point is to make people care, and dumping fine print tomes on them is not the answer. Screaming and cheering is also, by and large, not the answer.
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[User Picture]From: hbergeronx
2008-11-04 07:21 pm (UTC)
I've contemplated explaining, but I have no interest in discussing this (or anything else, for that matter) with you. Feel free to argue it at length with your own echo chamber.
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[User Picture]From: loving_cruelty
2008-11-05 05:17 pm (UTC)
Grr I just saw that the damn thing passed. I'm more than a little annoyed.
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[User Picture]From: hbergeronx
2008-11-06 03:36 am (UTC)
I'm not surprised or annoyed- it passed in 2000 pretty much as is. It was going to pass. The majority is never going to see the world as you or I might. What it shouldn't be about is the tyranny of simple majority.
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[User Picture]From: loving_cruelty
2008-11-06 01:29 pm (UTC)
Yes, I agree as far as the role of the majority is concerned. I think its pretty clear at this point that Madison was wrong when he made the case in Federalist Papers # 10 that a federal republic would prevent majorities forming and abusing minorities. Too bad he didn't foresee the formation of national political parties, mass transit and communication.
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[User Picture]From: hbergeronx
2008-11-06 01:49 pm (UTC)
Madison was fine and dandy- the problem is, is that California has turned their back on him. They do more an more by direct referendum and less and less by representation, and after a while and as a result, wham- amendments to the constitution by a simple majority, and tyranny prevails.
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