The City of Vallejo, California, recently put to public vote the choices of city programs that could be paid for from available budget funds. Civic interest was high, voter turnout impressive, and the citizens got what they desired. This is a beautiful example of direct democracy, where each citizen’s vote is used to build their society. Like an alcoholic who has to hit rock-bottom before there can be improvement, Vallejo hit bottom with bankruptcy because of bad management, special interest demands, and politics. A big upset of the apple cart.
I would like to think that direct democracy can be expanded to more cities and even to the state. Our state legislature already allows referendums, initiatives, and recalls, but I envision greater implementation of direct democracy – where state, county, and local “representatives” present proposed rules and laws to the general public for vote.
In our modern world, we do not need to elect someone who will be heavily influenced by money, power, backroom deals, or having to make compromises. Historically, representatives were chosen by the local citizenry to work for them and their region. But that has been largely lost to politics. In order to be elected today, one first has to choose a political party to join. Right then the representation has been diluted.
Switzerland and England are using direct democracy today. California has always been a trendsetter, and we have an opportunity to lead with this idea. Many of us have lost trust in our representatives and their bureaucracies. We have the technology. Do we have the will?