In this piece I’m going to examine a constitutional amendment that was proposed in 2012 and was suppressed to the point that it never gained any traction. The National Citizens Initiative For Democracy, or NCID, is very similar to the RIC which is currently a large focal point of the French Yellow Vest Movement. It’s based upon a concept that through referendums and initiatives citizens can create or remove laws to affect chance outside the existing branches of government. The NCID can be assessed in depth through the links at the end of the article and readers can see how they had proposed facilitating doing as such when the situation calls for it. I’ve met individuals throughout this movement who have proposed the idea of a fourth branch of government. In many ways I could see the NCID being just that, as it would essentially make the people most powerful through the referendums and would result in them being a check and balance on any branch of government.
Many times in the past when we have seen social uprisings (at least in my generation in U.S.A.) its been a frequent point of concern that there are too many demands. I’d like to suggest my opinion as to how something like the NCID could shorten a list of demands while still amount to a means to correct the overwhelming list of issues we face. Currently the people do not have the power that we were taught we did in school. I was educated to understand that the people are sovereign and our government is of, by, and for the people. The situation we see today though is a government run amuck and is routinely making choices against what a majority of people want. When focusing on one issue at a time it appears to me that a large majority of people do feel similarly enough and could agree on things, but the system isn’t set up so we can fix our own problems. We only vote on people from the party’s they present to us and as such we are regularly forced to choose the “lesser of two evils”.
When the people start organizing a movement and put together a list of things that need to be changed or fixed it appears to me the next step is to demand the government do the things we demand. Well, history would show that the government may do enough to quell the uprising but will never completely correct the system as a whole so exploitation never exists. Through the demand for NCID we demand one thing…our power back. If our government gave us this right (which we SHOULD already have) we could spend our time fixing many of these problems on our own without needing to demand action from the government. Through this proposal we would be the supreme power, similar to what most of us were taught in school. The beauty of this proposal is that it could truly be implemented to any form of government and net the same results.
There’s a saying that goes something like “people in power should not also write the rules of power”. This too ties into this proposal very much as it would allow us to remove any laws that are passed against the will of the people. In almost any situation the people could decide to do or not do whatever they vote on. I’d like to give a few examples to establish what I’m describing. Say the people wanted transparency in an investigation or an audit that is taking place but the process is kept classified, through binding referendum the people could not only declassify the proceedings but they could actually take a role of oversight in the process after a successful vote. In the case of something like 5g cell towers, the people could vote to opt out or have more studies done prior to it rolling out. In many cases there will be several options to choose from, and I will later touch on an improvement to HOW we vote as another movement has created something I think should be paired with this to be most effective. This referendum concept could truly be applied to anything from healthcare to education curriculum, budget, and more. Any time something is not being done the people can see it enacted and vice versa.
To touch on how we vote I’d like to direct some attention to the equal vote coalition. They use the term STAR voting, but I’ve heard this named score-choice voting most commonly. The general premise is instead of getting to give one vote to a single option in the list, voters will provide a score to each item on the list. In STAR voting each option can be rated from 1-5 based on desirability and the highest score wins. This is not the same thing as ranked choice voting, and living in a state that has used that method I would like to suggest why I feel this is a better option. First, in ranked choice you get 3 choices and in a situation where there are say 5 candidates you can only place a vote on the top 3. If your top choice does not get 50% or more of the vote then there is a second round where your vote now goes to your second choice. In our state there were long drawn out court battles over this process taking place and truthfully it appeared to drag out the process longer than it needed to. With a score based model like the equal vote coalition, there is no need for additional rounds and voters can give their opinion on all options. One primary goal is to not split the vote, but truthfully this could still happen with ranked choice where its nearly impossible in score choice. Imagine a scenario where there is an election for officials and now instead of there being “two evils” there are three. Many times people vote for the lesser of the two in fear of splitting a vote and getting the worse option. In the event that 3 candidates like that are presented, the ranked choice model would still result in many people picking the “lesser of three evils” and independent candidates would likely still not get a fair shake. The way I see it, only through a score choice model where people rate all options presented can we truly eliminate a “split vote” and take fear out of our voting process.
To conclude, I’d finally like to touch a bit on what these two things would look like when combined. Earlier I gave a few examples of how referendums could be used to vote on issues and exert our own power to fix them. With these referendums and this voting model we wouldn’t need to simply do yes/no votes on one solution. Take the issue of 5g cell phone towers again. Instead of voting to simply stop the 5g we could have several options: Stop it now, do more studies, proceed as planned, etc. People could be rating how much they like each option and the most desirable could win. The same could be true with almost any cause, when the people decide something must be done about an issue they can form committees for each stance on the issue and present an option to the referendum. When people vote they can give their opinion equally to each option and participate in a fair, inclusive, and transparent process that I feel would be far more successful than how things are done now. The way I see it, it may be of merit to revamp these two concepts into one singular idea as truthfully they fit together perfectly. In our yellow vest movement we can stay focused on the NCID as the solution to almost every issue we face because it gives us a great model to approach the solutions ourselves. We wouldn’t need demands as it pertains to each cause and if we get this one thing it may be the last time we need to demand anything from the government. Inefficient or corrupt officials could be voted out by the people if enough thought it were necessary and likewise the system itself would be modified just enough that it cannot only work for the 1% yet we wouldn’t need to tear the entire thing down and start fresh. These are just my opinions after months of thought on the concepts but I do think there’s enough merit to warrant others thinking a bit on the concept as we really are at a point in history where something needs to change as most problems in existence today should by no means be allowed to continue.