By Ted Becker
Amid all the gloomy news around the world — political, economic, ecological — there is a strong ray of hope. It’s called “democracy,” a natural wonder not often seen to flourish in recent times. There are places, like Switzerland, in which it seems to thrive all the time, but that is in rarified air. Normally, there are patches and bursts of it here and there. But late 2011 saw a quite unexpected explosion of it in one country, with the promise of much more to come in the near future. That country, surprise of surprises, was the Good Old USA…sire and false prophet of “The Elected Oligarchy” as being “democracy.” But that’s at the national level. At the state level, it’s a different story.
So, let me capture this precious moment in the blogosphere, in new series hereinafter dubbed:
Citizens Initiative to Amend Constitution (Mississippi)
Does a Single Cell Fertilized Human Egg = A Person ?
As in all of their causes, the extreme right wing of the Republican Party, tends towards excess in its moral views as well as its economic ones. Both are in play somewhere all the time. In the moral sphere, the “Right to Life” faction came up with a ploy to abort abortion once and for all at the earliest possible nanosecond. hey have been preparing to foist this upon America all at once, but decided to test it out first in the single state that they were sure to win: Mississippi.
Here’s the deal:
If only they could define “personhood” way before birth, yes even before the first trimester, they could arrest and punish even more women and doctors for aborting fetuses as “Murder.” So, why not that chemical instant when the sperm enters the egg in the womb and creates, by the Grace of God, a human being? This way, they could even prosecute women who took a “Morning After” pill for “attempt to commit murder.” And, if a woman who was in her second month, got a bit drunk, drove, got into an accident and then miscarried, she could be prosecuted for “negligent homicide.” Perfect.
It’s known that the State of Mississippi has long been ranked #50 among the 50 states in the United States in just about every social, economic and educational indicator, and for some strange reason, that correlates exactly with it being “the most religious state in America” according to a 2009 Gallup Poll
Small wonder, then, that the “Personhood USA” movement chose Mississippi as the ideal Battle Ground to see if they could get the citizens of a state to put such an idea on the ballot and vote it in as an amendment to their state constitution…even though they had already tried it twice in Colorado, another “conservative” state, and lost. Here’s a very good video from Fox News on the issue, the two sides, and the strategy before the election:
Yes, Mississippi allows citizens to get such items on the ballot for other citizens to vote on constitutional amendments. Thus, the time and place were carefully chosen. Mississippi was a sure bet to vote to change their constitution and make a single cell fertilized egg “a person” with full Constitutional Rights. Indeed, a one day old fetus would be guaranteed the Right to Freedom of Speech and once that was a fait accomplis, many more were to follow.
A lively debate occurred in that state, with passion, reasonableness, extremism and intelligence. Below is the way Jonathan Winburn, a political science professor at the University of Mississippi described Proposition 26. He gives both sides of the argument and predicted why it would fail:
He was right. It was soundly and roundly defeated 57%-43%.
Citizens Veto of Legislation Passed by Legislature and Governor (Ohio):
Should Government Union Workers Have the Right to Collective Bargaining?
Now we come to the State of Ohio. Apparently, that state’s constitution allows a certain percentage of voters from the last election to file a petition that challenges some law(s) passed by the Governor and State Legislature. This sort of thing is aptly called by some:
The Citizens Veto.
For several months, a grassroots movement of Ohio citizens, aptly called “We Are Ohio” got over 1 million voters to sign a petition to repeal the recently passed law that prohibits “collective bargaining” by public service unions. It has a number of other anti-union provisions. There was a vigorous debate in the state over this Citizens Veto measure. Below is the spokeswoman of the organization shortly before the election.
You’ve just got to watch this video. It’s a classic scene that shows with crystal clarity how modern American TV just cannot understand direct democracy. This spokeswoman brilliantly defends the citizens’ simple demand and direct, legal method how they will get their way despite government’s power.
There are 6 videos on the site linked below. You might want to watch them all but be sure to watch the one embedded below. You’ll be glad you did.
Over 60% of the voters said she was right. The law, passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor, was wiped off the books by the vote of the people.
That is what is meant by the word “democracy.” And that is how direct democracy, within a “representative democracy” gets the government to actually represent the will of the people. Directly. There is no other way.