Monday, September 28, 2009

Virtues of Liberty in America

The "two-party" system has become a mainstay in our current status of governing. Democratic and Republican agendas have set forth a platform of improbabilities for "third-party" candidates. This goes for all levels of government. Even local rules have been set in place to deter these candidates from seeking public office. Such rules could be polling for constituent signatures and the levying of fees for the right to ballot access.

Ballot access has become a major concern on all levels. On the state level the State Assemblies have the duties of putting forth legislation to the qualification standards for allowance of this access. Who runs these assemblies? That's right the "two-party" members. Republicans and Democrats have made it difficult for any minor party candidates to seek office.

Too many legislators are given the right of access by the simple virtue of a vote. Therefore they have secured their own guarantee of incumbency. Now that is job security. How would it feel if you could secure your job just by a mere matter of a vote? It doesn't work that way with lowly electorates. These very same officials would rather secure their own careers than fulfill your rights to proper representation.

Well, you can decide the matters with just a mere vote. The mid-term elections of 2010 are the chance for you to supplant the voice of concern. This voice can set a motion for several objectives. These objectives, if properly mandated, will allow for the authority of the people to reign sovereign. Term limitation, referendum, voter recall, and initiative are a principled goal. With these measures in place, we will again have the proper authority to reform our government.

I will try to outline my ideology in a simple to understand discussion. Let's take the idea of term limitation to a matter of minimizing the "elitist" attitude toward their duties and obligations. What is term limitation? It is a legal restriction that limits the number of terms a person may serve in an elected office. If this limitation is set in legislation, there would be more of a sincerity in the election to such office. Campaign promises would be pretty much assured by the mere idea of right and responsibility, instead of a career. The easiest measure of effect would be single term limits of a set amount of time, then bypassing one election cycle. Thus setting a precedence for future re-election to the same post without consecutive terms. This limitation could be used at all levels of elected office.

Referendum is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to accept or reject a legislative proposal. Other terms for this vote might be that of ballot question or plebiscite. The vote can be as a matter of a simple majority, or even a matter of a super-majority (2/3) of cast votes. The referendum can be used in a binding or non-binding measure. Thus, non-binding would be that of an advisory measure. These matters of voting allow for a more direct role of citizens' direct representation.

Voter recall is a measure of assured government accountability. It allows for special election to be called by the people to remove an elected official from their post. A recent example of a mandated recall would be that of California Governor Davis in 2003. The constituents of the state realized that the elected official had not fulfilled his duties and obligations of office, and voted to remove him by virtue of an election. The following states have legislation enacted to allow for the voter recall: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, and Wisconsin. Thus, the recall allows for the voice of the citizen to be heard.

Initiative is the procedure by which a specified number of voters may propose a statute, constitutional amendment, or ordinance, and compel a popular vote on its adoption. There are 24 states that allow for the initiative process. They are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. The various states set standards on the limitations of these initiatives.

The Initiative & Referendum Institute (IRI) at the University of Southern California has a full listing and explanation of the different states and the varying degrees by which these measures are allowed. Some states allow for direct votes in certain instances. Regardless, it is the freedom and right of such measures that allow for government accountability.

The "citizen sovereign" has full authority, and responsibility to reform their presiding government. This right comes as an obligation granted by the Constitution. The goals set forth by the principles of term limitation, voter recall, referendum, and initiative can only assure our liberties. Not withstanding the current affairs of state, our nation is in dire need of reform at all levels of governance.

On the virtues of liberty in America, Samuel Adams stated, "A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader."

This statement has always stirred a moment of thought, as for myself anyway. I hope this writing has shown thought on the matter. Again, I must reiterate that this merely "one man's opinion". Take of it what you wish.

The Constitution has presented the inherent right to reform government in the First Amendment:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."


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