(Personal note) One day in 1976 I was very nervous. I had wrangled an appointment with the California Senate’s President Pro Tem, James Mills, in his San Diego office. Due to the subject at hand - political dysfunction and possible remedies - I fully expected to be laughed out of his office. Instead we had an hour-long, convivial conversation followed
by an invite to dine that evening with he and his dad, who was famous for his U. S. Navy training innovations.
This gave me courage to spend my remaining years studying political systems, not as an academic, but more as a would be Edison tinkering with his electric light bulb. The following is my offering based on conversations with hundreds of wise and generous individuals and a fair amount of reading. (End-personal note)
Democracy is built on a simple brick. Voters in your village cast their ballots for someone
knowledgeable, straight and consensus-useful. There would be no reason to choose someone who is ignorant, divisive or crooked. You have some idea of their character because you might well know them personally.
As this brick expands to millions or tens of millions of votes the simple idea is lost. You may vote based on your religion or party or because it’s a chance to fatten your purse. You may know something about the person, but more often you only have an image built on advertising.
The mega-democracy is an edifice where the single brick is often invisible. Much of public life becomes prone to accident and pandering. How does a Nixon, Clinton, Bush or Obama gain office? Typically by the cash and carry of professional handlers. Leaders in a mega-democracy are a professional class, like bankers. Bankers, as we were reminded in 2007, are in the game for profit. This contrasts with the village’s simple brick where a leader’s labor typically exceeds any hourly recompense.
On this site we discuss a method to return the simple brick to modern mega-democracies. It’s a cheap and simple idea that harkens back to Solon, the famous designer of political systems, who constructed the world’s first modern democracy 2600 years ago.The idea is called a "dual-track" legislature. It adds a new element into the complex systems of today; one that reminds us of the affection held for the New England town meeting, which Thomas Jefferson thought was democracy's ideal model.
In a dual-track legislature (DTL) one-half of your legislature is composed of professional politicians or party selections. Lot from a pool of merit chooses the other half. Merit can be defined in different ways, but it commonly consists of passing a test based on an established regimen, much as attorneys pass a bar based on a set body of law.
I call the traditional legislative segment the "Pro20" track because the professional politician and controlling parties, as we know them, matured in the 20th century. The non-professional segment, the "D-earth" track, is named to connotate the elevation from the clay to democratic office without benefit of organized faction, handlers, publicity or party.
The next blog entry will note over twenty major differences between a 20th century legislature and a DTL. This blog will hopefully spur debate on this topic so that subsequent constitutional conventions will examine the benefits or liabilities of establishing this new form.
To comment or submit a paper, please email me at adultdemocracy at the site gmail.com.
David Dietrich, January 2010.