We the People...The Citizen and the Constitution I believe that the advance in telecommunications will open up new avenues indemocracy and will help people involve themselves more in the democratic process. Itwill not cause people to become dependent on their computers. Computers couldsimplify voting, create less biased views of world events, and encourage moreinvolvement in political discussions and decision making. Going to the polls could be a thing of the past. A click of the mouse, couldinstantly register your vote. Furthermore, nationwide results could be instantly tabulated,instead of laboriously counting each polling center. This could both increase voterturnout, and decrease costs. Because of its ability to enable people around the globe tocommunicate with each other instantaneously, the Internet is hailed as the beginning of anew age in communication. Computer-mediated communication promises torevolutionize the way we work, learn, socialize, and govern ourselves (ratt.html, 1). Themain argument against on-line voting is security. The national computer system could behacked into and, for instance, some radical anti-abortion activists could found andterrorize anyone who voted for a pro-choice candidate. This problem could be rectifiedby using a secure computer system, like that used by the Department of Defense. Anotherpotential problem multiple votes. How could the government stop any person fromvoting for a candidate one hundred times? A very simple solution is to use personalidentification numbers, we already have them, our social security numbers. While thesearguments are valid; they can be easily solved, in order to use an on-line voting system toits best advantage. A less biased view of world events is another positive development of computeruse. It is often predicted that by the year 2000, 5-10 corporate giants will control mostof the worlds important newspapers, books, magazines, broadcast stations, movies,recordings, and videocassette. This concentration of ownership raises concerns that theinformation citizens receive from the traditional media may be subject to censorship orare biased toward those things that are in the financial interest of the owner corporation (ratt.html, 4). With the Internet, you can receive news almost instantaneously fromeyewitnesses. You eliminate the middle man who can censor the news and color thetruth. A problem with news on the Internet is credibility. This is a problem in all media. Whether in a newspaper, magazine, on television, or on the internet, information shouldalways be verified by other avenues. The internet can lead people to being moreinformed and open voters. The greatest advantage to the use of computers to aid democracy is moreinvolvement in political discussions and decision making. With Internet chats peoplecould get to know their local government officials, and air any subjects that they wereconcerned about. This would make the entire bureaucratic process seem less impersonal. Things like this have already happened. Vice President Al Gore has used the Internet andhas chatted with numerous people on-line. Anybody can now send e-mail to the
President and other high ranking officials. In conclusion, I believe that the telecommunications revolution will open up newpossibilities for democracy by making the democratic process more readily available foreveryone. The solitude that Tocqueville warned about will never happen because peoplestill need to communicate directly. For all of its advantages, telecommunication cannever compare to a face to face meeting. The Internet has allowed more communication around the world and in the UnitedStates, and it has created the possibility of a more direct form of democracy. With bettertechnology in telecommunications, the United States could become a country where everycitizen votes on every law. This will not happen though because of our current system ofa representative republic. Most congressmen would vote against such an act because theywould feel it is not in the best interest for our country. At the present our country ishaving problems with citizens not being informed on the major presidential candidates (Brager, 1). If the average citizen doesn t know about the president he/she is electing,how can we expect them to understand every law that comes up for vote? That is why wehave a representative republic, so that we elect officials to vote for the good of theirdistrict. Another problem with direct democracy is that some people might feel thatbecause they didn t vote for a law, they wouldn t have to obey it. This also applies toreferenda and plebiscite voting. If there was more referenda and plebiscite voting byeelectronic voting, it could easily get out of hand. If all the people in America had achance to vote on every referenda, it could have some negative affects on the country. Anelectronic city state could be a good thing, if all the people are rational, and think the lawsand such through. People as a group, however, are often taken up in fits of passion. TheFounders feared what might happen in a direct democracy. They still feared because ofthe direct election of the president. In Article 2 Section 1 of the Constitution the founderscreated a system in which the votes are tabulated and the electors then vote, usuallydepending on who won the popular election. This was a fail-safe, in case the peopleelected someone that was obviously not good for the country. The electors could thenvote for the opposite candidate, even if he didn t win the popular election. The main problem with direct democracy is the tyranny of the majority. This wasthe most feared thing of the Founders. That is why they created such a complex systemfor getting laws passed. With a bicameral legislature, a presidential veto power, and ajudicial review, it makes it almost impossible for the majority to make unjust laws. EvenTocqueville warned against the tyranny of the majority, If it be admitted that a manpossessing absolute power may misuse that power by wronging his adversaries, whyshould not a majority be liable to the same reproach (Tocqueville, 269). If the UnitedStates went to a form of electronic direct democracy, we would have no protectionagainst the tyranny of the majority. All laws would be voted on, and if one group ofpeople had the majority they could pass unjust laws and stop the good laws from beingpassed. Yes, the possibility of an electronic city-state is there, but it will not become areality.