It would appear ungrateful, scandalous, perhaps, secular sacrilege, to characterize the founding fathers of this nation, as philosophically naïve or unduly optimistic. They creditably, put the tyrannical and tired history of Central Europe behind them in fashioning a new nation in which privileged birth was eliminated, a central confederation of States, restrained by checks and balances was created, removed Church from State (and God from government), protected the minority against the “tyranny of the majority” (majority rule), gifted citizens with a protective “Bill of Rights” and in general, functioned as superbly gifted architects and designers of a new and admirable nation.
In addition to popular elections, the founders anticipated constructive debates between literate and informed citizens of differing views, to inform a rational and responsive administration of the new nation; as a result, the country would be administered in accordance with the revealed will of its people.
Our Founders, warmly adrift in their idealistic dreams, especially their philosophy of “one man, one vote,” could not possibly have foreseen the sociological-political impediments looming like great, ominous cloud-warnings transmitted from the future, portending great danger to their wisely conceived and well-intentioned expectations.
Mention, nevertheless, must be made of the tragic American Civil War which not only divided citizens, but resulted in a geographic and social division of the nation and only slowly, thereafter, a painful reunification.
After the mutual, existential necessity of joint survival during a great depression and two world wars, internal conflict reared its insidious head to fracture the American nation in ways never anticipated by the founders. Discreet, highly charged, issues arose dividing the nation, and giving birth to insular groups sharing a common view on issues, in social conflict and divorcement from other similarly insular groups of disparate view. The utilitarian, anticipated practice of constructive debate envisioned by the founders became non-existent due to the consequent demise of civic amity.
Such sharply divisive, issues include, immigration, abortion rights, gun control, gay marriage, climate change, government assistance to the needy and economic justice. Many citizen’s adamant stands on these issues, appear to be greater than their love of country, and most certainly their love of countrymen of divergent views. The proper administration of our nation has been hampered far too long by ignorant champions of selected, limited and reductionist dogma; whose tactics drown out and obscure the legitimate will of mainstream, responsible citizens, properly dedicated to the general good of the nation. The irresponsible one-issue voter, in ignoring the balance of his candidate’s platform, other than the specific issue, is especially responsible for the regular distortion of the manifested will of the voters.
We require an admittedly, unprecedented, unusual and emergency procedure, akin to medical emergency measures undertaken when the success of orthodox life-saving efforts appears doubtful. Our proposal would require for its legitimate use in every case, a showing of current necessity for the preservation of the democratic republic, and approved as such, by a judicially appointed committee composed of both parties, reasonably in advance of the time for candidate nominations.
In such (necessary) cases, the “hot button,” emotional, knee-jerk issues, such as abortion, gun control, immigration policy and gay marriage, would be reserved and relegated to an official government questionnaire, answerable by all willing qualified voters, and thereafter submitted to the legislative branch of government for its consideration. The candidates, themselves at election time would be given a common questionnaire on their platform [ excluding the” hot button” issues, listed in the bi-partisan questionnaire.] Strange? We might perhaps learn the positions of the candidates and the results of elections would, at long last, be meaningful as democratically representative.
Still shocked? Please consider the following possible scenario. In a time of great international conflict, a candidate, elected solely based upon his position on abortion by reductionist single- issue voters, rather than upon relevant criterea of mature judgment and gravitas, might prove to be a great danger to the nation.
Our representative democracy has been for too long in serious peril; we urgently need bold and creative solutions.