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  • B. Thomas Marking

Yes, But . . .

Updated: Sep 25

The common excuses for not trying Democracy are bogus.


I’ve spent the last few weeks locating and reaching out to about ninety organizations that are seeking major reforms in our political system. My message to them is that we need to select a common destination and start rowing in the same direction. Feedback is beginning to come in. Some responses are quite predictable.


1. Yes, but - Democracy might work, but the masses are dangerously ignorant of today’s complex issues and won’t spend the time to educate themselves.


Do I need to point out the elitism (probably unintentional) inherent in this position? Personally, I hold my fellow citizens in higher esteem and believe in the “Wisdom of the Crowd”. There are mathematical studies of this phenomenon showing that any large number of people, exercising independent judgement, will, when taken in aggregate, arrive at a remarkably accurate result. The referendum system prescribed by the Twenty-ninth Amendment relies on that aggregate wisdom, and a belief that, though we citizens are intellectually diverse, we are endowed with about equal portions of Common Sense.


2. Yes, but – we all know the pitfalls of referenda. They can easily be worded to engineer a desired outcome.


Those who gauge public opinion for a living can certainly produce whatever outcome the client desires. No argument there. The process defined by the Twenty-ninth Amendment, therefore, has ordinary citizens, serving on The Caucus, draft the language of each national policy referendum. The prefix is generally always the same: “It shall be the policy of the United States of America that . . . “

Once published, the Citizenry are given up to three months to study the proposal and render a decision. Then, three-fifths of those voting have to agree to the proposal or it is rejected. That’s a fairly high standard.


3. Yes, but - there’s a good chance that the masses could be moved to a rash and imprudent action when national emotions are running hot.


This complaint is better aimed at the Congress or the President who habitually rush in to fix the crisis du jour – usually by throwing money at it. The national policy referendum process I support forces us to stand back and take a breath before acting. That’s why they call it “Deliberative Democracy”.


There will always be those who snidely remark that “If God had intended Man to fly, He’d have given us wings.” My forever response is: Yes, but – God gave us the ability to imagine wings.



Happy Landings from The Wingspread Enterprise!



1 March 2021

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