So. How does one go about using a grass roots approach to achieving
the goal? It appears that the only way the constitution can be amended
is through Congress OR through a full blown Constitutional Convention.
Most of us are scared silly over the latter, but perhaps there is a way
to have a "controlled" constitutional convention: In the states of
Washington, Utah, California, and Oregon there is a little jewel called
the state referendum. I do not know whether the easterners have such
democracies as we do out west, but perhaps some of them do. It occurs
to me that if each state put together a referendum that said precisely
the same thing (the opening paragraph being an example of such a
particular thing), and if it were passed by whatever number of states it
takes to form the requisite quorum, then we would have a "controlled"
constitutional convention specifically for enacting the ONE thing that
was agreed upon and absolutely nothing else. It seems to me that this
is a proper way to go about enacting any worthwhile campaign reforms.
The coyotes are already in the hen house, and they aren't about to
change anything that might endanger their comfortable position.
The goal of the reform as proposed is two fold:
1. To remove a large portion of the expense from campaigns such that
normal people have some hope of representation.
2. To promote actual debate among the candidates as a means of
presenting themselves to the electorate.
It would seem that the established parties would still have a
significant hold on incumbency even in debates. But this is probably
not so damning as one might think. Not all Republicans and Democrats
are turkeys. Some of them actually do have hearts and minds and actual
positions on real issues. It is just that under the press of needed
funds those positions cannot ever be disclosed or the game is lost.
I'll bet we would find Libertarians, Socialists, Georgists, Nazis, and
Anarchists among the major parties if the need for funding was
alleviated. The political spectrum would grow to include a much more
open and progressive form of democracy in which real issues were
Only those who fear democracy need fear this idea.
This is a good idea, Mr. Coburn. I would love to vote in favor it.
It would be helpful, however, if you could put together some links and
documentation describing exactly how such a process could be initiated
and executed. Do enough states have the referendum mechanism? What
exactly must be done to place such a proposition on the ballot? Do you
need signatures? If so, how many? etc. etc.
It would also be interesting to see some links on the exact
parliamentary issues involved in constitutional conventions and
amendment. BTW, why are you shooting so high -- i.e. aiming to alter the
federal constitution? Wouldn't it be easier, for instance, to pass a
state law forbidding political advertising? That way, you could at least
get rid of the pestilence in your own state. Is it possible to pass a
state law by popular referendum?
in California, we pass laws all the time with the proposition mechanism.
whether or not they stand up in the eyes of the supreme court, is another
issue entirely. when it works, it's a great way for special interests to
avoid the legislative process. i've never thought that to be a good thing so
i never support any proposition.
Why would they want to avoid it? I thought they controlled it. ;)
I don't really know much about the mechanism (how a proposition gets on
the ballot, how many votes it takes to pass it etc.) or its history, so
I don't have much of an opinion. Maybe somebody can weigh in with a link.
Apparently they have a similar mechanism in Colorado, because it cropped
up in a weird story in the paper today. "[Tax critic Douglas Bruce] was
escorted out of a Senate committee hallway on Tuesday after Dennis [a
state representative] said the Colorado Springs man threatened her over
a bill to make it tougher to get citizen's initiatives on the ballot in
Colorado. The bill died in committee."
Hmmm. Another crash and burn defeat for the special interests, I guess!
We wouldn't want any touch of democracy to get past the politicians,
Lets see: Special interests. Who would that be? Yep, that's what I
thought. It's that danged majority! How dare them force our special
interest group, (known as the politicians), to do something that is not
in our (the current power pushers) own self interest.
The state "law" I want to see passed is the one that forces the state
legislature to call for a constitutional amendment that outlaws paid
political ads on the airwaves. Other than this one issue I really don't
care what happens in other states. Here In Washington we have a
referendum process. And I'm reasonably confident that IF other states
have such a process then that is the way to go. I see no other way to
reform campaign financing that actually does any good and working with
the incumbent congress is a loser.
Perhaps you people would like to consider the proposition instead of
telling me how to nail myself to a cross in my particular state. I
don't have a problem at the state level. Its the Federal Reserve, the
Republicons, and the Democrooks that are the problem.