Beyond SOPA - Let's Iterate Politics

Beyond SOPA - Let's Iterate Politics

Scales of Justice

Beyond SOPA: Let’s Iterate Politics

Trevor Gilbert:

The first iteration we should make to our political process is to make changes easier. So let’s start with the ability to vote for bills electronically. I don’t mean petitions, I mean a formalized system that the public can vote on whatever bills they want. The kind of system that is truly democratic, and much less so representative. Representatives can still submit bills, and they’d still have jobs (for the time being), but we would get to vote on the bills. This type of system is long overdue, and frankly, just makes sense. In Steve Jobs words, “It just works.”

Wow. No.

I hear this suggestion, or something like it, every so often and while it sounds like paradise, it’s one of the more awful things I can imagine.

The suggestion usually stems from not understanding the differences between a Democracy and a Republic.

Democracies do not safeguard the rights of minorities. Basically, whatever the majority says goes. The minority has no rights. And whatever rights that may be given at one point can be taken away later.

Republics safeguard the rights of minorities. This is usually accomplished via a constitution. This document serves to protect the inalienable rights of the minority from the majority. If the majority votes to do something that violates the minority’s Constitutional rights, the minority has protection.

The US is a Republic. And it’s why we have representatives. Representatives vote the will of their constituents. (Okay, I know it doesn’t always work this way, but we’re talking theory here.) Assume Representative A represents 10,000 constituents. Further, assume all of those constituents are dicks. Representative B and C represent 4,000 constituents each and each constituent, to a person, is very cool. Now assume a bill is presented making it illegal for a person of color to be paid more than minimum wage. Representative A’s constituents really want this to be law (because they’re dicks). But! Representative A is only 1 vote. Representative B and C can vote together and send that bill packing. The rights of the minority have been protected against the tyranny of the majority.

In a Democracy, or under Trevor’s scenario, people of color would relegated to the ranks of poverty indefinitely. Representative A’s constituents out-number both Representative B’s and C’s constituents combined. The will of the majority would prevail and only caucasians would know the joy of spending huge chunks of cash for sub-par food and service while dining at the nearby mini-mall.