TDG Banner

Quashing Electoral Reform

In the 2015 Canadian federal election, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau promised a reform of Canada’s electoral structure. It seemed that the Liberals were open to the idea of Canada moving beyond its 1867 Westminster system inherited from the British traditions.

In the summer of 2016, the new government opened up a forum for electoral reform. It asked for submissions that would lead to speaking at the forum.

I put a short paper together about my Tiered Democratic Governance (TDG) idea. I did not believe that I would be called to the forum. But I was impressed that the federal government actually put up my paper on its website.

I did partake in some of the live hearings by C-SPAN and videos of those hearings. I didn’t hear of anything I had not heard before: proportional representation, ranked votes, run-off elections, etc. These kinds of things have been talked about for a long time. I did not see much imagination.

But I saw something else: the forum was attended by mostly white men in nice suits. And all these people were probably paid $500 a day, whether as part of their regular salary or consultant’s fees, to be part of this forum. I said to myself: “The optics ain’t good.”

Within a few weeks, public support for the forum dwindled. Mr. Trudeau, despite a promise to reform Canada’s democracy, figured this forum was hurting more than helping his re-election chances. If the forum had continued, more Canadians would have seen more somewhat wealthy Canadians getting a little wealthier on the taxes paid by not-so-wealthy Canadians. A campaign promise was wisely broken, in my opinion.

There are more bad optics in how we try to be democratic. For example, I like the United Nations, and I want to see it become more influential in world affairs. But whenever I see a United Nations forum, I observe a whole bunch of somewhat wealthy people being paid a somewhat wealthy salary to mostly listen to a few wealthy people talk, then go sit in meetings with somewhat wealthy people, and decide things. Then they eat nice meals in nice restaurants in their nice hotels. For your average blue-collar American worker or a poverty-stricken single mother in Nigeria, it seems that these people in the UN have a cushy job that does little to elevate the plight of the poor.

I watched pieces of the recent impeachment hearings in the USA. I suspect everyone in that room had a salary of at least $100,000 a year (or was interning for a future salary of $100,000 a year). That room was not representative of average Americans. Many average Americans would not mind trading places for a few days with the actual players in the room.

At the time of this writing, Joe Biden seems set to win the Democratic nomination. Whether this is great or not for the USA is not my concern. But my concern is that Mr. Biden used his power to get his loser son a highly paid job—and that son was not qualified for that position. While Democrat apologists have all sorts of reasons to downplay this appointment, I see a political elite engaged in nepotism. I don’t think I’m the only one to understand that Mr. Biden’s judgement is clouded. For many of us, “The optics ain’t good.”

And just to be fair, Mr. Trump is engaged in his own version of promoting family members. I often wonder at how a man who has so much contempt for the lower classes gets the political support of the lower classes. My only explanation is that, by all social-economic accounts I’ve run across, the lower classes in the USA have taken great economic setbacks in the past two decades. They are looking for a savior.

Medium is full of writers who are great at explaining the wrongness of our current systems of governance. But other than promoting the latest political messiah or singing Kum-Ba-Ya at the campfire, they have no solutions. My TDG concept is a solution that deserves more inspection. 

First, if we are to reform democracy, it cannot be with an elitist movement. Average people will have to play a part in this process. The building of the TDG will require average people to take part. The TDG neighborhoods will ensure one of their own people moves into government. There will much greater participation from the lower classes in this new democracy.

Second, I don’t envision the end of professional people in meetings that make decisions. Expertise is important, but so too is oversight on these experts. I believe the TDG will be better for finding the more capable professional people who are also more motivated by their spirit to serve rather than to enhance their careers. I believe the non-professionals will take their oversight responsibilities more seriously. I believe the general public will be more accepting of decisions implemented by the TDG.

Third, if it seems a politician is getting carried away with his or her position in the TDG, the annual elections of the TDG can put this politician on the sidelines. No need for vicious attacks or a highly charged trial to prove the politician is hurting the TDG more than helping.

And, last, a TDG politician needs to prove his or her political ability by getting some experience at the lower levels of government. If his or her peers believe a promotion is warranted, they will vote that person higher. Neither billionaires nor barmaids can vault themselves to a higher level without going though the lower levels. 

Mr. Trudeau tried to reform Canadian democracy but could not do it. Everyone reading this article has more power than Mr. Trudeau to effect such a reform of democracy in their own country. 

There is nothing to stop anyone from building the TDG.

Published on Medium 2020

Voting ID Laws

Change We Want, Yet We Don't Want Change