Monday, December 19, 2005

writing to my representatives

I feel so ridiculous writing to my representatives. How is it supposed to work? I get the idea that it used to be that no one ever did write to their representatives. Maybe someone did every once in a while, and they'd read it and say, hey, OK, that's nice. Then comes the era of form email activism, so presumably now they get thousands of copies of the same email from people all over the world. Either way it seems meaningless.

I don't really want to contact my reps in whatever way has the "most impact." I don't want to have a disproportionate impact. What I would like is to have an exactly equal impact with all of the other constituents. That's democracy, as I reckon it. Obviously there is nothing democratic, nor even sensible, about taking letters and emails and phone calls from whoever happens to call and then taking that as some sort of barometer of public opinion. It's worse, if anything, to ignore what people say who are trying to contact you. So where does that leave us?

I think it leaves us with representatives having an obligation to make some sort of modern system to communicate with the people they are representing. It's certainly possible for them to get good, authenticated data about what their constituents think. So if we're serious about the project of democracy, then that's what should happen. Duh.

<3

3 Comments:

Anonymous Tony Dismukes said...

I think the logic involved is that the person who actually has the motivation to get off their butt and make the call or compose a hand-written letter to a representative will also have the motivation to remember their concern, get out to the voting booth on election day, and vote based on that concern.

Someone who's just willing to click and forward an email may not even be motivated to get out to the polls come election day.

Obviously, this is a practical consideration for politicians, but I think there's a reasonable argument for it in terms of democratic fairness. If 51% of the electorate have a slight, casual preference for position A, 19% don't care, and 30% have a life-or-death passionate concern that position B prevail, it's reasonable to give the 30% who really care about the issue some extra clout. It's the principle behind the filibuster, and it seems to work well enough for me when negotiating preferences with friends and family.

12:22 PM  
Blogger mungojelly said...

Hmm, well I'd agree that it makes sense to give people with more of a stake in an issue more influence over it, but that's only a tangential (even accidental) effect of the system we're talking about. The people who write paper letters to congresscritters have greater stakes, but they also have other things, like paper and pens and literacy and an awful lot of time to sit around writing letters.

You could say that the lobbyist system has the effect of giving greater attention to those with greater stakes, which it does. Those who put more money into hiring lobbyists are those who have more to gain or lose in regards to an issue. It's clear however that the lobbyist system is deeply broken-- dare I say, corrupt.

It may be a reasonable proposal to fine tune democracy to give more power in particular issues to those who have the most relevant stakes, but that is not what our current systemic biases look like. They look to me like sloppy holdovers, edging towards corruption.

<3

1:52 PM  
Anonymous meditations_of_dan said...

"I don't really want to contact my reps in whatever way has the 'most impact.' I don't want to have a disproportionate impact. What I would like is to have an exactly equal impact with all of the other constituents. That's democracy, as I reckon it. Obviously there is nothing democratic, nor even sensible, about taking letters and emails and phone calls from whoever happens to call and then taking that as some sort of barometer of public opinion."

I want to offer a friendly challenge that democracy does not necessarily equal justice. What you are proving to me by this post is that you hold in higher esteem the opinions of the masses than you hold your own ideas. If that's the case, then not only is it appropriate for you to not want you to get your way matters of state, but I also don't want you to get your way either. If you don't believe enough in your personal convictions to confront the majority (if the majority is in disagreement with you), then for whatever reason (good or bad) your convictions are not strong.

All too often though, democracy is nothing more than two wolves and a lamb voting on who to eat for dinner.

Free your mind. Stop contending for democracy as the highest goal and aim. Contend for justice - which is absolute and not subjective.

A democracy is only as good, noble, and wise as the people are good, noble, and wise.

It is immoral to ignore the wisdom and discernment that God gives you for the sake of pleasing the masses. Of course, this is only relevant for those who have wisdom and discernment.

So, a major prriority for all who are concerend about the welfare and justice of our nation should be getting wisdom.

Blessings.

2:04 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home