Direct Democracy and Historical Ignorance
Imagine 11,000-12,000 men coming into Valley Forge, 19 December 1777. Corporal John DeWatt Weimer, a German immigrant, was there in Stirling's Division. He'd left his wife and 7 young children on his Pennsylvania farm to fight for his new country."If a nation expects to be ignorant and free ... it expects what never was and never will be."
-- Thomas Jefferson The Declaration Of Independence is our most important living document and perhaps the most important living document on the planet. It is far more important than our Constitution, which just might be the second most-important living document on the planet.
From 1776 to 1787, the Declaration Of Independence held out the promise of the extraordinary rights of Americans, as opposed to the traditional rights of Englishmen. The DOI motivated and drove the winning of the Revolution. It was continually read and posted anywhere that Americans would hear or read it. And it set Americans on their principled path under the rule of law.
Of course, the predator authors of the Constitution had refused to include provisions for rights, freedoms, and liberties in their 1787 original. From ancient Rome, such constitutional features had always limited the profits and power of elites. The American elites wrote their Machiavellian Constitution to up their class, not to create a nation that would auto-center in equality, rights, freedoms, and liberties for ordinary people, as the DOI implied.
The Bill of Rights was forced onto the predators in the Constitution's unconstitutional and illegal ratifying conventions. (The ratifying conventions violated the standing, inviolable constitution, the Articles of Confederation.) And even then, the predators controlled and limited the contents of the Bill of Rights to the traditional rights of Englishmen, barring the extraordinary rights of Americans, as promised in the Declaration of Independence.
After utter betrayal by the predator authors of the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence has shown its high worth in the nation's blackest hours.
First Blackest Hours. One humbled leader stepped out of the darkness of the Civil War that had been created by the Constitution's elitist provisions and systemic problems. The American Civil War was the most visciously stupid and legally confused conflict ever faced by a free people, but Lincoln had lighted the path with the Declaration Of Independence.
In January 1863, Lincoln emancipated the slaves. He did it by combining the moral supremacy of the Declaration of Independence with the Constitution's 1st Amendment. He had combined the DOI's "all men are created equal" with the freedom from religion to yield freedom for an entire racial group of Americans. They are cousins in the single human tribe. Given the extraordinary rights of Americans promised in the 1776 Declaration Of Independence, only predator elites and religious bigots could have held them as slaves in the 1787 Constitution.
The Bible and the predator elitist authors of the Constitution had drawn the circle that shut the slaves out. Lincoln drew the circle that took them in. The tremendous event of emancipation added several orders of magnitude to the DOI's importance in our national life -- despite the emancipation's continual betrayal ever since by the predator elites, the religious bigots, and our corrupt, unchecked, wealth- and class-driven governments.
Second Blackest Hours. An angry but responsible majority stepped out of the darkness of state government corruptions in the Gilded Age. The Robber Barons were crushing the rights and lives out of ordinary people to maximize profits and power, and paying state-level politicians for the privilege.
Ethically normal Americans saw clearly that corruption had weakened and submerged the representative government that had been promised to them in the Constitution. The literature of the period shows that they saw clearly that without a strong representative government, their equality, rights, freedoms, and liberty would be wholly destroyed by the elites' corruptions. They saw clearly that only sovereign citizen lawmaking could minimize corruption and give them a strong representative government.
Not uniformly, but in citizen action pockets here and there, and in semi-national organizations, ethically normal Americans turned back to the direct democracy of the New England Town Meetings, turned back to the direct democracy promised in the Declaration of Independence, turned outward to Switzerland's direct democracy, and found their fundamental governance rights.
Seven DOI Governance Rights &We need to read again and again what might be the greatest writing in American history -- the first part of the DOI's second paragraph.
Eight DD Governance Components
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to 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. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. ..."
We can derive seven fundamental governance rights from those founding principles in the Declaration Of Independence --
- Individual citizens have the right to be politically equal with all other citizens.
- The sovereign people have the fundamental right to speak for themselves, in their voting majorities.
- The sovereign people have the fundamental right to be their own sovereign masters, democratically and directly electing all of their public servant representatives.
- The sovereign people have the fundamental right to remove any elected representative, for cause, without interference from government.
- The sovereign people have the fundamental right to control the output of legislation by formulating their own, by vetoing law made by government, and by affirming existing law in such a way that government is barred from amending it -- at every jurisdictional level, without interference from government.
- The sovereign people have the fundamental right to alter details of their governance, without interference from government.
- The sovereign people have the fundamental right to protect themselves from themselves by establishing the powers within government to administratively, legislatively, and judicially prevent zealous majorities, greedy corporations, the corrupting superrich, and government itself from violating individual and minority citizen rights, as given in the constitution and laws.
Then, as citizen action groups crafted various constitutional provisions to activate their various governance rights, a total of eight direct democracy governance components were formulated. Of the 26 states that instituted one or more of the DD governance components, 19 finished the 1898-1918 Reform Era with both the initiative and the referendum.
And as the people formulated their DD governance components in the separate states, they did not usurp their state constitutions to create "pure democracy". Instead, they melded their DD governance components into the representative government that they wanted to strengthen by minimizing corruption.
These eight DD governance components, which sort themselves into three categories, simply express the seven fundamental governance rights of the DOI.
DD Administrative functions:
(1) The people's direct election of all representatives in all states; supposedly in open, fair, and peer-reviewed referendums called 'elections' (most Americans have been so propagandized into ignorance that they do not recognize "elections" as being the referendums and direct democracy that they truly are), and
(2) the people's recall of a public official's election who has violated the public trust or simply offended too many citizens; in 18 states; done by petition process.
DD Legislative functions:
(3) The people's constitutional amendment initiative in 18 states, to propose amendments to our consitutions without government interference; done by petition process;
(4) the people's statute law initiative in 21 states, to propose statute law without government interference; done by petition process;
(5) the people's statute law veto in 24 states, now known as the "referendum" (should be changed to the "remand" to minimize confusion with referendum-the-vote), to reject statute law made by representative government; done by petition process; and
(6) the people's statute law affirmation ("referendum on existing state law"), only in Nevada, to bar government from amending or repealing a law that the people want kept in place; contains a "see us first" provision that allows the legislature to refer proposed amendments/repeal to the people's referendum, but bars the legislature from ever again making law in that topic; a majority approval by the sovereign people in 1990 stopped the misrepresentative Nevada legislature from changing the state's abortion law to assault Roe v. Wade in 1990; done by petition process.
DD Consultative functions:
(7) The legislature's constitutional amendment referral to the people's referendum, in 49 states. It's the only way for constitutional law to be made in the non-I&R states, excepting Delaware. In Delaware, only the wealth- and class-driven predator politicians are allowed to make constitutional law. The sovereign people are locked out of their own constitution.
(8) the legislature's statute law referral to the people's referendum, in 25 states at last count, but sure to increase quickly. This governance component has become a "bait and switch" trick. It always offers something the people want, but it also frequently hides some spectacular advantage(s) for money-power. The politicians and their parasitic media hide money-power's dirty trick on the people, whose majority may never discover that they have themselves approved corruption. In fact, this "bait and switch" tactic has been appearing more and more often in the constitutional amendment referral, too. Both of the referrals need to be regulated with closely defined "single topic" constitutional provisions that bar omnibus bills. The constitutional limitation of "single topic" bills in the legislature has served the sovereign people of Nebraska very well for the 69 years since 1937.
The eight direct democracy governance components are the greatest corruption-fighting machine ever devised by ordinary people. But the greedy elites don't want the people's corruption-fighting machine to limit their profits and power. So the DD governance components have been made to look bad by the greedy elites in a relentless campaign over the past hundred years.
Reform Era Aftermath One tactic of the campaign against the DD governance components has been for the state governments to pass statutes directing officials and judges to take unconstitutional actions against all citizen-proposed law. With that gauntlet of arbitrary unconstitutionalities waiting, any citizen-proposed law that is offensive to money-power can be delayed, altered, and/or rejected. (See especially, "2nd Look--State Govt Unconstitutionalities Against Citizen-Proposed Law", 08 October 2006, on this blog.)
Another tactic has been to force a societal ignorance of how and why the direct democracy governance components exist.
The tactic employs many mechanisms to dumb down public education. Most students now go through K-12 and college without ever facing a required civics class. Ignorance of civic responsibilities -- beyond voting for the political hacks approved by the mega-corrupt political parties -- is nearly complete. Most people under the age of 30 are clueless about constitutional principles.
Most importantly, the tactic blocks as many mentions as possible in history books of the Reform Era citizens fighting corruption and instituting direct democracy governance components to handle future corruptions. You can go to any library, find the American history section, zero in on the early 20th Centruy, and not find a single book out of hundreds that discusses the gains of direct democracy in the 19 states that achieved both the initiative and the referendum from 1898 to 1918.
Look for any mention of Ohio's 1912 adventure. Within the calendar year of 1912, the sovereign people went around their corrupt, inflexible predator politicians to call a state constitutional convention, had their delegates to the convention propose over 40 constitutional innovations -- including I&R -- and then held a referendum and approved the entire 40-plus item package. All inside 1912.
The only book I know of that adequately profiles the direct democracy issues and achievements of the sovereign people during the Reform Era is Thomas E. Cronin's 1989 book, Direct Democracy: The Politics of Initiative, Referendum, and Recall". (There's a 1999 reprint that, true to the author's intellectual DIShonesty, does not mention that the original publication date was 1989.)
The book is heavily flawed by Cronin's anti-direct-democracy bias, which results in myriad distortions of reality and juvenile historical inaccuracies.
The Cronin book should be read by every democracy advocate, but only because it is one of the few good descriptions of the Reform Era's direct democracy increases. Its horrendous anti-direct-democracy bias, and its author's intellectual DIShonesty is typical of the bought-out sold-out "Madisonian scholars" shaped by the predator elites since the Reform Era.
The money-power predators have achieved the historical wash-out of the greatest democracy movement in recorded history by a vicious system of rewards and punishments for scholars. The "Madisonian scholars" who play along, omitting examinations of the Gilded Age, Robber Baron corruptions, and the citizen backlash of the Reform Era's direct democracy increases, are rewarded with prestigeous professorships, prestigeous convention destinations, and prestigeous book publishing houses. Those who do not play along get punished with backwater professorships, unfunded conventions, and little-press publishing houses.
Third Blackest Hours. The Delaration of Independence and the Constitution are dying of the people's ignorance. They're being pummeled and ripped apart by our unconstitutional, felonious, and treasonous national government, their corporate cronies, and the mega-unconstitutional and usurous Federal Reserve. But they're dying of the people's ignornace.
Today's corruptions far exceed those of the Gilded Age Robber Barons. But most Americans act as though the corruptions can't be real. Most sit on their hands waiting for government and the Democratic Party to save them, seemingly unable to understand that the government and the Democratic Party are a morass of corruption machines.
There are no significant numbers of Americans stepping out of the Bush-Clinton-Bush dark times to clean up the greatest anti-corruption machine ever devised by ordinary people. The anti-corruption machine lays hidden under elitist unconstitutionalities and lies. But it is not broken. It's secured in the I&R state constitutions, where corrupt politicians cannot meddle with it.
Most Americans are still being led around by their servility, believing everything the elites spew, not examining the evidence, not thinking critically, not questioning anything. Avoiding and rejecting reality can be great good fun. Avoidance and rejection really pump up the laughs for historical ignorance, political stupidity, and greed. And, in the eyes of most of the world, those three have become the chief traits of the American people -- historical ignorance, political stupidity, and greed.
We're closer now than we've ever been before to losing everything that our ancestors fought for and tried to protect, everything that millions have suffered, bled, hated, and died for so that we could have equality, rights, freedoms, and liberties. Ignorance up. Losing it all. Big laughs all around.
Or, do something. Organize and be something. Read political history and constitutional principles. Start playing smash-mouth politics with whatever direct democracy rights you have. You can find sugestions for smash-mouth politics in the "Unity America" action plan in the essay, "Open Letter To Susan--Making Bush-Cheney Null & Void", 13 September 2006, on this blog.
Do something. Start today, please.
© by Stephen Neitzke, 2006 -- 2190 words.
Modified Sat 25 Nov 2006, at 3:50pm CST.