By Alex Clarke
Oct 31, 2016
The more I look at the USA, the less I see the land of the free and the home of the brave.
These days, increasingly I see a land of people enslaved to particular ways of thinking, and a home to people too cowardly to stand up and claim back the inclusive, even-handed political process promised them by their constitution. I see the equivalent of lemmings - people inclined to jump in whatever direction those in front of them do, and suffer the consequences; I see a people who fail to grasp that the choices presented to them are seldom the only choices available.
Mind you, the US is not alone. The choice which is missing to US voters - as well as on the Brexit ballot, and in virtually every significant democratic vote in the world - is a meaningful "no confidence" option. When voters have no confidence in the choices presented them, they need a way to have that view represented, and in doing so, they need to be confident that they can put the "demos" - the people - back into their democracy.
When "no confidence" gains more votes and any other candidate, that needs to trigger a process of reform in which people do have confidence - a process overseen by an assembly of ordinary citizens drawn by lot. Regardless of whether the vote is for representatives, or to leave the EU, or remain in the EU, or to paint parliament building purple, if people have no confidence in the candidates, or that the right questions are being asked of them, then normal systems should be set aside and replaced for a time with people more likely to represent the wider public interest more faithfully.
Ideally two other things also occur - failure to vote in any election is explicitly counted as a vote of no confidence, and the threshold at which the "no confidence" vote triggers a reform process is gradually lowered. After all, unless one has the confidence of at least 80 if not 90 percent of voters, questions will be asked, and resentment will simmer. Personally I would ask if those choosing not to vote are truly citizens, or if they are merely subjects - people subjected to the coercive power of the state against their will.
In the case of the USA, this is doubly important given their historical precedent. Many US voters - perhaps even most - broadly have no confidence in their political system at the moment, and yet they cannot represent this view meaningfully. Nonetheless they pay taxes. Remind yourselves that once upon a time, there was taxation without representation, and a rebellious war broke out against those distant powerful people who made the rules. When that war was over, new rules were introduced to allow people to arm themselves, a move some would argue was so that the people could overthrow any such errant government should one arise in future. Be clear that a meaningful "no confidence" option is a much more rational and effective way of restoring power to the people when required by such situations.
Without a "no confidence" option available, any leadership election also opens itself to accusations of being, in effect, fraudulent. Unless candidates can clearly demonstrate their capacity to motivate followers and to lead them forward together, there is a question of the validity of the election. An election between Donald Duck and Hillary Hamster, for example, would clearly be fraudulent. But somewhere between the black-and-white options of fictitious leaders and fabulous leaders, nestled in the grey of reality, lies a point where real candidates lacking the necessary qualities are simply not capable of taking people either forward, or together, or both. How can a leadership election incapable of delivering a leader be anything other than a fraud? And how can the shades of grey in such situations possibly be reasonably resolved except by giving the citizens who are to be led the opportunity to assess these situations themselves in a robust democratic manner?
With that volatile mix of ingredients, if I were a US citizen I would be pressing the Supreme Court to press the pause button on the upcoming election until a no confidence option could be mandated. Without that, one fears that the US government might collapse within a few years as people en masse assert that they are not being represented, and therefore withhold their taxes. One sincerely hopes it does not progress to that, and certainly not past it.
Mind you, a no confidence option is only the choice presented by this short article. Once again, the choices presented to people are seldom the only choices available. One hopes the USA - and every other democracy in the world - embraces choices in a timely manner that bring their people what they seek - peace, progress, unity, stability, security.