This story is a good one to lead with, I think, because that banana is sort of like democracy, and that Baskin-Robbins is a lot like our government. They are always advertising something, but they always seem to be out of it. They tell us about all these voting rights we are supposed to have, for instance, but when you get to the polls, they are always fresh out. I went to the polls last in 2006, and I wanted to write-in a name that wasn’t on the ballot. WE THE PEOPLE have always been able to do that. I have done it in many past elections when there wasn’t anyone worth voting for on the given list. This time I was told I wasn’t allowed to do that. I called a precinct person over and she told me that only “official” write-ins were allowed. To be an official write-in candidate, that candidate had to register with the State and pay a fee. I said that pretty much destroyed the whole idea of a write-in. A write-in that the voter can’t “write-in” in not really a write-in, is it? It should be up to me to choose who to write in, not the State or some registrar. I told the precinct person that I would just write-in my candidate myself. But she said I couldn’t do that. The machine couldn’t read it. If I wrote anything on the ballot, they would have to discard it. I told them that it was illegal for them to discard a ballot, and that my writing on it was not an illegal or disqualifying act. How could a voter marking a ballot be considered a disqualifying act? That would make “a voter voting” a disqualifying act. It’s not like I was defacing the ballot, or drawing smiley faces or lewd cartoons on it. I was writing a name on it, which by the definition of “voting” is voting. I said that I was a legal voter, and I had a legal right to present a ballot and have it counted. I told her I didn’t care a fig for her machines. If the machines can’t read write-ins, then write-ins need to be read by human beings who can read them.
She didn’t appreciate the crushing logic of this and decided it was easier to ignore me from there on out. I left the polling place without being able to exercise my right to vote, but this did not appear to concern her or anyone else in the room. Despite being decades younger than all the precinct workers, I was seen by them to be hopelessly outdated, a person of the past. I was not up with the times, and could be ignored as a non-person, with non-rights.
Despite this, I remain certain that I was correct. What is more, I now believe that I have tripped across the easy answer to all our voting problems--not just this one but every last one of them. Just as my uncle cut straight through the Baskin-Robbins blockade with his banana, with one simple and logical action, we can cut through every possible blockade at the polling place with one simple and logical action--an action that cannot be countered.
This is a democracy with direct voting. People can legally vote for whoever they want to. Neither the newspapers, the TV, the Congress, the sitting President, the Supreme Court, nor the political parties, can tell them who to vote for. All these sources of power can only provide suggestions. They can offer and endorse candidates, but they cannot vote for you. You still have that right, even as late as now.
By the same token, no one can tell you what method to use when you vote. They can provide you with a method, but it is up to you to accept it or not accept it. There is no law that says you must accept the ballot they present you, whether it is a machine ballot or a paper ballot. Currently, voting occurs in the way it does only because WE THE PEOPLE have accepted it. To put it another way, voting occurs the way it does because only a handful of people contest it. If large numbers of people showed up at the polls with their own marked ballots and demanded that those votes be counted, the precincts would be forced to count them.
In the primary elections this year, 2008, makeshift ballots were accepted in precincts across the country when those precincts ran out of printed ballots. If the precincts can accept those ballots for one reason, they can accept them for any reason. A ballot is a ballot, and there is nothing to say it must be printed out by the State. By legal definition, any piece of paper with a legible name on it is a ballot, if it is presented as a ballot. If it had to be printed out by the State, then these makeshift ballots could not have been accepted, could they?
It is your right to vote for whoever you want to vote for, on any piece of paper that appeals to you, with whatever color ink you like. As long as the name on the ballot is legible, and the paper is not of extraordinary dimensions, the ballot is legal.
If you think this is not true, if you think that laws may exist that limit this freedom, think again. Those laws may exist temporarily, but you have the power to override those laws immediately, in one day, in one hour, without the help of attorneys, Congress, judges, or anyone else. It is quite simple. If 50 million people, or even 5 million people, show up at the polls on voting day, 2008, with their own ballots, clearly marked in ink on normal pieces of paper, and demand that those votes be counted, this minor revolution is achieved.
It would require nothing else. It would require no lawsuits, no petitioning of courts, no speeches before Congress. It would be a direct expression of the people’s will, and could not possibly be ignored or overruled. If any court or sitting body did overrule it, you could overrule that court or sitting body immediately, by returning to those same polls and flooding them with even more handmade ballots. The ballots would say one thing: WE THE PEOPLE overrule.
What so many people have forgotten is that, according to the Constitution and all modern formulations for a republic or a democracy, all power comes from the people. If governmental institutions or assemblies or individuals have power, it is because the people have delegated that power to them. Neither the President nor the Supreme Court nor the Congress, nor all three, is the ultimate source or seat of power. Even the Constitution is not that. WE THE PEOPLE are the seat and source of all power. WE THE PEOPLE have delegated power via the Constitution to various assemblies and persons, but we can re-delegate it or un-delegate it at will. Which is just to say that if WE THE PEOPLE want something bad enough, we are sure to get it. Nothing can stop us. We even have the power to call another Constitutional Convention, if we decide we need to. If Congress or the Supreme Court or the President gets in our way, we can dismiss them, too. These people are our representatives, not our rulers, and most of them seem to have forgotten that.
We seem to have forgotten it ourselves. The Constitution states, in plain language, in the first sentence, in the first three words, that its power derives from the people. That is us! We can keep the Constitution as a great thing, or we can allow our representatives to amend it, or we can amend it ourselves. You will say the Constitution gives Congress the power to amend, but who determines what and when they amend? We do! If a large majority of us want them to amend, and they refuse, then we vote them out and vote in representatives who represent us. Therefore, we have the power to amend, any time we want to use it. WE THE PEOPLE can amend anything, even the preamble or the first four articles. If we decide we want 7 Supreme Court justices, or 11 or 21, we can do it. Article 3, section 1, states that the justices serve “during good behavior.” Who do you think ultimately decides that? That’s right, we do. Justices that stonewalled a large majority of voters would not be in good behavior, and could be dismissed and replaced (and jailed).
You will say I am talking tyranny of the majority or mob rule or something like that. But I am not. Mob rule is rule by force. I am talking about ruling by voting. That is not mob rule, that is democracy. As for tyranny of the majority, we are so far from that it isn’t even worth responding to. The voters are exercising so little of their Constitutional power now that any talk of tyranny of the majority is just silly. WE THE PEOPLE have been marginalized almost to oblivion, so that even a huge power grab by “the majority” would only be a small correction of the pendulum in the reverse direction.
But let me just show you what we could do, if we decided as a group that we wanted to. Say we did what I have suggested, and Congress resisted us. Say Congress voted us down, or reversed us, or ignored us. Obviously, we have their number, since we just vote them all out. We don’t even have to wait for the next election. We call an emergency recall election and vote them out immediately. It has been done before. Ex-Governor Gray Davis of California will back me up here, since he got recalled mid-term in 2003 (that is why Arnold is now the Governor).