June 21, 2003
The Greens—Grassroots democracy

(See this post for background on this series.)

Community Assemblies: Ground political representation in a foundation of participatory, direct democracy: a Community Assembly in every neighborhood, open to all of its residents, acting as a grassroots legislative body, with its own budget for local administration, and the power (in concert with other Citizens Assemblies who share a representative) to monitor, instruct, and recall representatives elected to municipal, state, and federal office.

This is nothing more than an appeal to the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, who would love the opportunity to add thousands of new government employees to their rolls. The idea itself is not a bad one, until you throw in the budget aspect. Community involvement is good, but throwing dollars at it is bad.

A Proportional, Single-Chamber US Congress: Abolish the disproportional, aristocratic US Senate. Create a single-chamber US Congress, elected by a system of mixed-member proportional representation that combines district representatives elected by preference voting and party representatives seated in proportion to each party's vote.

The senate serves a purpose; besides the obvious counterweight to some of the excesses of the more fractious House of Representatives, the senate serves as the body that reviews all appointments (by the executive branch). Having a greatly expanded single body to review such appointments would be an experience in futility. Further, the senate serves to represent the interests of the smaller states; without their equal representation in the senate, the concerns of lightly populated states would never come into play, which turns into a "tyranny of the majority". The greens don't recognize this because it doesn't fall into their preconceived notions of gender bias, racial bias, sexual orientation bias, or class bias. There is a clear break in the values of urban versus rural voters, but the greens (who are overwhelmingly urban in their values), sneer at the concerns of the rednecks and rubes who live well away from the big cities or the coasts.

Proportional representation does not work in a two-party state such as the US. We don't have a parliamentary system, where multiparty coalitions are formed, with each party in the coalition pushing their interests while trying to maintain a semblance of unity. Proportional representation is particularly popular among parties that have little chance of winning in any one district, but have diffuse support throughout the country. Coincidentally, that would mean that the Greens would suddenly be the third largest party in congress, instead of having no representation as they do now.

Environmental Home Rule: Establish the right of every state, county, and municipality to restrict or prohibit the production, sale, distribution, storage, or transportation of any substance it designates as dangerous or toxic.

Say goodbye to the commerce clause of the constitution. What happens if California decides that all produce from outside the state is "dangerous"? What if the Port of Seattle decides that internal combustion engines are toxic? (Many Japanese vehicles come through the Port of Seattle.) What if a city on a major highway decides to ban garbage from outside the city limits, even if it is on its way to a landfill elsewhere? The possibilities are endless.

The vast majority of goods received in this country from overseas arrive by ship. If just three states (Louisiana, Texas, and California) were to prohibit the transportation of items from outside their boundaries, the entire nation's trade system would be destroyed. Louisiana would be particularly devastating, as it would cut off all international trade along the Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio rivers.

Average Workers' Pay for Elected Officials: Pay elected officials average workers' salaries so that they understand the needs of average people and stop being an elite of professional politicians with separate class interests.

Are you going to take into account the cost of living in Washington, DC, where the representatives live? Are you going to take into account the cost of traveling between Washington and their home states, to meet with their constituents?

Another way of dealing with the "elite of professional politicians" is term limits. Limiting the number of years a politician can serve will ultimately require him or her to find a job OUTSIDE of the government, which is a great idea for keeping them honest.

DC Statehood: Full self-government and congressional representation for the people of Washington DC.

Until Washington DC can show that it is able to function as a state (without massive amounts of federal aid), the idea of statehood should not be on the table. It has shown that despite ungodly taxes and draconian laws, it is impoverished and dangerous. Perhaps it should be absorbed by the state of Maryland, which would give Maryland an additional representative in congress, and DC residents would be represented by the two Maryland senators and the congressman from the area.

posted on June 21, 2003 08:03 PM


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