What does “of, by and for the people” mean?
Many Americans openly admit that our political system is broken. Simply put, our two-party system has been corrupted by corporations and wealthy individuals—plutocrats, through a form of bribery called “campaign contributions” and other donations. As a consequence, our national policies favor their interests, not the interests and desires of the majority of Americans.
In addition, our planet is under tremendous stress due to the global crisis, which has many dimensions including environmental, economic and security problems. (For a summary, see this report, and this video.) We are locked in a perpetual cycle of escalating and spreading violence both domestically and internationally. Our foreign policies disregard our own ratified treaties, including CAT, the Convention Against Torture, and the UN Charter, creating more enemies from which the government promises to defend us, while continuing to grow the military-industrial complex. Our domestic policies fail to serve the economic needs of most Americans, contrary to the wishes of most Americans. And this dismal state of affairs is fully supported by the corporate media.
Who Has Sovereignty in America?
Never before have solutions been more urgent or timely. Our future rests on our ability to mobilize and to think outside the box defined by our 228 year-old Constitution. While our Constitution as many democratic features, such as those in the Bill of Rights, it also has many undemocratic features such as single-seat districts with winner-take-all voting, resulting in a two-party system. Plus, it lacks any features of direct democracy embodied by many of our state constitutions and the systems developed by many other nations. Such features include initiative-and-referendum to propose and pass laws, propose and overturn laws, and to propose and ratify constitutional amendments by majority vote in a referendum.
If sovereignty is the power to govern a nation, who has it?
Corporations and wealthy individuals, and those they have bribed our government to serve them, have become sovereign. Not we the people.
The American constitutional design, in the context of the 21st century, has failed to fulfill the American political ideals of Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson.
Lincoln was right that our government should be one that is “of the people, by the people and for the people.” But it isn’t.
Jefferson was right that our government should be governed by the people in this way:
“Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
But our government doesn’t govern that way.
The 1787 constitutional design provides no explicit processes of direct democracy to implement that ideal of people power. It. Never. Has.
The framers of the Constitution invoked the idea of We the People in the Preamble, and then effectively prevented it, by the vast supermajorities required for amending in the formal procedures in Article 5. Most of our states have not followed this path for amending, but empower their residents directly to amend state constitutions through initiative-and-referendum and convention-and-referendum, including New York state in 2017.
How might Americans actually improve our political system? Can we? Should we?
This website—The National Referendum—provides American citizens with a process to learn about and provide input on how do turn our national government into a modern, effective democracy, thereby empowering the American people to govern ourselves.
When it can be demonstrated that a clear majority of Americans agree on a solution, the solution should become the law through a modern system of proportional representation, public financing of elections, along with the time-honored processes of direct democracy. These processes enable the full promise of democracy. In these ways, not only could we take real responsibility for our future, but we also exercise our power to keep our political system healthy.
Yet there is bafflement among most Americans about how to fix these problems. Why?
Connecting the Dots
It’s because most Americans haven’t yet connected the dots between our flawed, unpopular national government and a profoundly antiquated, undemocratic constitutional design.
Those who do connect the dots know that the task before us is to alter or abolish this out-of-control system and institute a new system that constitutes a modern democratic nation—that is, a system of governance where public policies naturally, by design, come to match public opinion.
That means, minimally, as citizens of other nations have done, seizing the right of convention-and-referendum, and initiative-and-referendum to pass or overturn laws, and to amend the Constitution outside of Article 5—grabbing real people power by exercising popular sovereignty. This is the most foundational of our unalienable rights. Only then will we be able to upgrade our national operating system from version 1787 to version 2015+ to create a proportional, multi-party system with public financing of elections—thus a wide debate with real voter choice, high levels of citizen participation and learning, and actual democratic outcomes.
That’s the political revolution that lies ahead of us, if we choose to awaken from our political slumber before it’s too late.
Until then, VOTE on the laws and amendments in our survey which you would like our government enact.
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Thank you for your interest,