Saturday, April 5, 2008

Electoral Reform

Ever since I was a page in the BC provincial legislature, I have had this idea about how our system of government should change.

There is so much bickering and partisan blockage that damages the democratic process and how things are done in the legislative assemblies across the country, and in our federal government, I have often wondered how we get by at all. Yet, the system tends to work just fine, and the provinces and country continue to run smoothly.

However, like any good system, it could be better.

What in my view is the cause of the major problems both in public perception of the government caused by the media and in the actual way that arguments erupt in our decision making bodies on their own, is the party system. Because of the affiliation with parties, the public has little that they need to educate themselves on in order to vote; they can simply vote for the same party that they have for the past several years. Rifts between liberal and tory create harsh views of politicians in the media, and average people refuse to vote, because they feel powerless to change the way things are run.

My idea is two-fold.

First, get rid of political parties.

Not only does this cut down on the donations and support that can be recieved en masse by politicians, but it forces people to go out and meet the politicians that they vote for, so they can know what they are about, and decide if they like them as a person with sets of values and morals, instead of just a corporate or union backed political platform.

Second, reinstate direct democracy. I have no idea when it died, but with today's ability to transport people to and from where they live to where they make decisions, direct democracy can work again.

Direct democracy would work by using a tiered system. In your neighbourhood, you would go into a local school or church or some kind of other public building and meet to decide on changes that affect your immediate area. That same body would have two representatives that would participate in a more regional decision making body, such as a municipal government. This group would make decisions concerning broader issues, such as police force or sewage treatment. Also, from those same groups all across the province, one or two representatives would be elected to participate in decision making at the provincial level. And then finally, at the federal level. And THEN, ideally, at the international level, at the United Nations.

By getting rid of parties and putting in this kind of system, a link would be formed between every level of government. Also in this fashion, you would only have to vote for one person, and that person would be accessable to you whenever you attended the town meeting, or whatever it would be called.

There wouldn't be any money required for election campaigns, as you would only need to convince the people at the level one below your position to vote for you.

Anyways, there would be a phenomenal amount of details to consider, but I think that all in all, it could work.

World Peace


~Julia said...

No system is perfect, least of all democracy. I totally agree with doing away with the party system, for all the reasons that you state. Actually getting everyone to drop their party affiliation - that would be the difficult part.

As for direct democracy - the theory is sound, but in application it tends to be very expensive as more people are employed and the communication between the levels can be somewhat problematic. The real question is, are we engaged enough as a society to care and want change?

J-Ray said...

For your first part, I definately agree, democracy is not perfect. Winston Churchill famously said, "Democracy is the worst system in the world, accept for all the others." No better caption could be given to our system.

I think that it would work, because if more people are employed, they make and spend more money, thus perpetuating a stronger economy. And it really wouldn't be that different than what we have now, just one more level above and below. Town meetings wouldn't be mandatory, and positions could be rotated, and meetings held in schools or community centres. Venues would have to be able to accomadate all who wanted to come, and all would be able to vote. There would be a rotating chair, and no one would be appointed leader. Sounds like communism, doesn't it?

We could make it work with what we have. Communal Gov't represents to Municipal, Municipal to Provincial, Provincial to Federal, and Federal to International.

Indeed, your question does hit the nail on the head though. Are we engaged enough in society to care and want change?

My heart pleads yes. But my head says no.

So here's my question: How to I make it matter to people, and how do I make it easy enough to implement?