We have a solution to all the problems in our national politics: make all decisions in an open town meeting.
Town meetings work. We accomplish what we need to accomplish. We pass a balanced budget, which is more than Congress can say.
We disagree and we debate and we move on, because we know we need services from our local government – like public education and pothole repairs – and we just need to hammer out the extent of those services and how much to pay for them.
Why would this work on a national level? For one thing, the rank-and-file voters would greatly outnumber the members of Congress and other officeholders. If they got to grandstanding and calling each other names, somebody would move the question and get us back to work.
We find that voters at our local town meetings tend to be long on common sense and short on patience for politics and speechifying.
At a national town meeting, every time Mitch McConnell or Nancy Pelosi would stand up to explain why we have to spend ourselves another trillion dollars into debt or why they refuse to work with each other to do something about our nation’s problems with health care or immigration or why everything is going swell with our 17-year-old war in Afghanistan, the voters would ignore them or maybe an elderly moderator would pretend he couldn’t see their hand up to speak.
Some might call a national town meeting impossible. How, these naysayers ask, would you fit all 328,598,250 of us (U.S. Census Bureau figure as of 7:46 a.m. Wednesday) into the school gym?
Well, turnout is not great at town meetings these days. Most towns are happy to have 50-75 people show up.
Let’s be really generous and say turnout is 5 percent. This means we only have to fit 16,429,913 people into the gym.
OK, so we might have to teleconference some people in.
The point is, the direct democracy of town meeting – a free-for-all where anyone can propose anything – results in government infinitely more fiscally sound and reasonable than what our supposed leaders hand down from Congress.
The season of town meetings continues this week with Alna’s on Saturday and Jefferson’s (by secret ballot) on Tuesday.
Go out and participate, and take pride in the fact that you, a citizen with perhaps no qualifications except being of voting age, are contributing to a more functional government than most U.S. senators or representatives of any party.