Listen 7:00- 8:00 pm (PST) to the WeThePeopleRadioNetwork.com and to our guest - Evan Ravitz.
Listen 8:00- 9:00 pm (PST) to the WeThePeopleRadioNetwork.com and to our guest - Laura Wells.
Evan Ravitz has been championing the National Initiative for Democracy, written by former US Senator Mike Gravel. The National Initiative empowers people to share law-making power with representatives, similar to ballot initiatives in 24 States, but at all levels from national to local and with several improvements. The People as check and balance against legislators, Congress, lobbyists, and money!
Senator Gravel among others tried to get Congress to ratify a similar National Voter Initiative in 1977, but of course Congress refused to share power (as also happened in 1917 and 1937.) Since then, Gravel discovered that the Founders had the same basic problem: the existing 13 Legislatures refused to share real power with the upstart USA. The Founders pondered and "resorted" to their First Principle ("The People are Sovereign.") and decided to have The People ratify the Constitution, at the Constitutional Conventions.
The National Initiative, is the most powerful reform since the Constitution, to make real the promise of "government by the people." The National Initiative consists of the brief Democracy Amendment and the more detailed Democracy Act. Similarly, YOU can now vote to ratify the National Initiative at Vote.org!"
Initiatives put the people in the drivers seat. Responsibility brings more responsible people: more people vote in States with initiatives. In Switzerland, centuries of national initiatives result in the highest newspaper readership in the world.
Initiatives are competition for legislators, which brings more representative behavior from representatives. The National Initiative will break Congress' monopoly on national legislative power.
People are less influenced by money than representatives. This study and book show that people favor "grassroots" initiatives over "big money" initiatives while the Associated Press shows Congress usually votes the way big money wants.
When legislators make mistakes they cover them up --to protect their careers & egos. Citizens lack the coverup incentive but have incentive to fix mistakes: regular people suffer more than the privileged. Thomas Jefferson said "The will of the majority is the natural law of every society and the only sure guardian of the rights of man; though this may err, yet its errors are honest, solitary and short-lived."
Large, diverse groups of independent people make better decisions. The award-winning book "The Wisdom of Crowds" shows how and why. The National Initiative is endorsed by a wide variety of movers and shakers.
Evan Ravitz is an activist, performing artist, programmer/analyst, writer, and has led a very adventurous life.
Laura Wells has over 21 years experience in financial systems – investments, pension funds, union dues accounting, and real estate loans. She holds a B.A. from Wayne State University (Detroit, MI, Phi Beta Kappa), and an M.Ed. from Antioch University. She lives in Oakland and is the proud mother of Natalia, a 23-year-old musician and graduate of the University of California at Santa Cruz.
In 2006 she ran (again) for the office of "State Controller" on the Green Party ticket in California. http://www.laurawells.org/ is her campaign website. (She had the distinction of getting more votes than any other Green candidate- over 400,000, when she ran for the same office in 2002.) Controllers basically “Follow the money!” and keep track of where the taxpayer's money goes and report to the real boss — the people of California. The Controller manages the state’s checkbook, collecting money and signing checks. She serves on many boards and commissions, affecting public lands, water, taxes, and the state’s pension funds. When it comes to whether Green Party statewide candidates in California can win, if everyone who agreed with Green Party values, votes for them, the Green Party candidates would win!
However, the system is messed up. Nowhere in the Constitution are political parties mentioned, and yet we have a two-party system that seems as unsinkable as the Titanic seemed. Luckily, the life raft of the Green Party expands to hold everyone that jumps on board.
Our current political system is Democracy 101. It was a state-of-the-art political system 200 years ago, but it needs to be updated for today.
Laura Wells will speak on the show immediately after participating in a meeting on Wise Democracy Oakland ( See- Wisdom Councils http://www.wisedemocracy.org/ and http://www.wisedemocracyvictoria.com/.) This project will be an experiment in direct, participatory democracy in Oakland, where ordinary citizens come together to address the issues they deem important in our civil society. Thr group includes those who responded to this appeal at a recent Democracy Forum in Oakland:
- "Let's take as our focus the possibility of holding a Wisdom Council on March 14-15, 2008, with approximate 12 participants, who would be a randomly selected group of folks from Oakland. The group would be facilitated with dynamic facilitation, and would come to a consensus statement to be presented to the community, public officials, and the media. This Wisdom Council is meant to be the beginning of a continuing process of engaging more and more people and building consensus toward action around the issues that concern us all. Who here would like to be part of a group working toward that possibility?"
Everywhere in the U.S. and the world where regular folks have been involved in policy, their ability to handle complexity and to devise creative and practical solutions, has surprised themselves, and public officials. (See An Experimental Framework for Community Democracy.)
The Green Party, which has Grassroots Democracy as one of its four main values, has been one area of activism for Laura. She ran as a candidate for State Controller in order to open up the electoral process, and she was on the campaign team that got a 69% "yes" vote in Oakland in November 2006 for Instant Runoff Voting, a form of ranked choice voting.
Laura has also visited Venezuela, where in the past couple of years participatory democracy has made great strides, in the barrios of Caracas and the towns of the campesinos, in a way that is the complete opposite of how the media and U.S. government portray the Hugo Chavez government (Her recommended websites for more accurate information regarding what is happening in Venezuela are: http://www.venezuelanotes.blogspot.com/, http://www.veninfo.com/ and www.vensolidarity.net.)
She is applying her learnings in Venezuela, the Green Party, and the Dialogue and Deliberation movement (See-
Deep Democracy and Community Wisdom) to the local experiments being planned for Oakland. In so doing, she hopes at least to plant seed for a feeling of empowerment and hope - which she sees as a vital nutrient in these times - in ordinary people.