But the problem with representative democracy is that public opinion can only be expressed crudely. Citizens vote every few years – and then a single legislator is said to “represent” you and tens of thousands of other citizens for a fixed term. But if circumstances change, if you change your mind or if you don’t like all elements of a candidate’s bundle of political views, you’re out of luck. Your opinion can be safely ignored by those in power. Politicians come to mold and manipulate public opinion, with help from corporate money ("manufacturing consent, in Chomsky's terms), rather than public opinion having sovereignty over politicians.

No wonder there is such alienation from conventional politics! We’re relying upon political structures invented in the 1700s when mail was delivered by horses, and public opinion had few vehicles to manifest itself, let alone do so rapidly and with granularity. Now, we have myriad forms of instantaneous private and public communication, many accessible repositories of serious expertise, and many supple systems for forging and mobilizing public opinion – yet our government system remains resolutely stuck in a 18th Century frame of reference. Constitutionalists may try to ignore this egregious mismatch, citing the sanctity of history and patriotic tradition, but the Internet generation, and the Pirate Party in particular, may have the last word. LiquidFeedback may be the "first word" in this longer debate.

« But the problem with representative... »

A quote saved on Feb. 26, 2013.


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