Rendezvous with Destiny: The Two Pillars of Social Justice
by Dr. Robert D. Crane
The Preamble to the American Declaration of Independence places justice as the guiding paradigm for The Great American Experiment, with prosperity, national defense, domestic order, and freedom as the primary products of justice, not as independent goals.
Justice, in turn, according to the natural law theory universally shared by America’s founders, derives from a higher authority than human positive law, namely, from the Supreme Legislator of the universe. The task of human beings is to derive principles of justice from sacred scripture, from studying the physical laws of nature (including themselves), and from the use of reason in understanding the interdependent and reinforcing commonalities of these first two sources.
The most basic of all principles in natural law is the sacredness of the individual person, who is created, according to the wording of every world religion, “in the image of God.” The second basic principle is the human drive to seek strength in community, which is sought not only as a means to assure physical survival but primarily as the best way to join together in acknowledging and worshipping one’s Creator and Sustainer, which is the highest purpose of human life.
The third most basic principle of natural law is to respect the sacred nature of the person by designing political systems of governance to assure that power flows from the bottom up, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, rather than from the top down through governance by elites.
The fourth equally important principle is to respect a bottom-up system of political governance by broadening and universalizing the ownership of productive capital, because whoever owns the means of production owns the government.
There are other basic principles of the higher law that reason reveals as essential to the understanding and implementation of universal human responsibilities and rights. These include respect for the global physical environment, for freedom of thought, and for gender equity. All of these human rights are interdependent, but they all depend most heavily on the first four, of which the first two concern the spiritual sphere of human life and the next two concern institutional means to promote one’s spiritual well-being by promoting social justice.
The political component of social justice can best be advanced by both representative and direct democracy. Representative democracy is a good means to protect the principle that the power of governance belongs in the individual members of a society rather than in any unrepresentative elites. Nevertheless, the experience of all such representative democracies demonstrates that in order to avoid the possible chaos of pure democracy the vested interests of elite groups always control the process of governance at the expense of the people they allegedly represent.
Direct democracy, on the other hand, can restrain or avoid such rule by oligarchies by providing means for every individual in society to vote directly on issues of conscience. Many efforts to implement such direct democracy have been tried, but they all have ended up as subject to the same dynamics that undermine the integrity of representative democracy. Over the past decade, Senator Mike Gravel, who ran on the Democratic ticket in America’s 2008 election, has developed a sophisticated system to avoid the drawbacks of other attempts at direct democracy and to maximize its benefits for America or any other country of the world. This carefully crafted system of parallel governance is outlined in Senator Gravel’s position paper, prepared in April 2009, entitled “Rendezvous with Destiny,” and in an accompanying model for constitutional amendment.
The economic component for social justice has been developed over the past several decades in books and position papers by the Center for Economic and Social Justice on the Just Third Way. This is designed to avoid the bankruptcy of both socialism and capitalism, which are based respectively on envy and greed. This Just Third Way preserves the benefits of private ownership and the free market, while assuring economic stability through reform of banking and credit in order to maintain the harmonic balance of production and consumption.
Each of these approaches to social justice requires support from the other, but for political purposes they probably must be pursued independently, because each calls for paradigmatic revolution. Neither calls for overthrowing the existing institutions of society, but the reform that each advocates is so fundamental that the two movements for perfecting the existing system of governance might be more acceptable without linkage to the other.
The political dimension of social justice is explained by Senator Gravel as follows in the talk he gave, entitled “Rendezvous with Destiny,” in Korea. The political environment in Korea may be uniquely favorable to institute direct democracy because the institutions there are already in place to facilitate it. The movements for democracy in much of the rest of the world might benefit from the insights and experience gained from pioneering models. Senator Gravel writes:
“We live in the best of times and the worst of times.
“In the last century we have seen progress that has matched all the progress made since the beginning of civilization. Science has opened vistas of unimagined possibilities. The human life span has doubled, and researchers now know more about the causes and treatments of many diseases than ever before. Expanding knowledge of the brain promises enhanced productivity during our senior years.
“Advances in agriculture now guarantee the planet’s ability to adequately feed its inhabitants. Transportation and communications surpass the speed of sound. What took years of dangerous travel is now accomplished safely in hours and in seconds by holograms. We stand on the brink of addressing the age-old problem of human beings communicating with others through the conquest of time and language. Man travels in space and explores the galaxies. Our future is unlimited.
“Yet, we face the worst of times. Science has now opened up to man the secrets of his own self destruction. The last century ushered in the atomic era, equipping the elements of society with the ability to destroy life on our planet in a single burst of insanity.
“Science and the economic growth it engenders have set the earth on a trajectory of its own destructive pollution. Any reversal will take greater governance skills than society has thus far demonstrated
A Brief History
“Civil society advanced somewhat with the structure of nation-states in Europe at the end of the Thirty Years War. The next great advance in political governance occurred at the end of the Age of Enlightenment when the power of government was deemed to emanate from the sovereignty of the people and not the divine right of kings. This new wisdom pushed nation-states to establish representative governments. The structure of representative government transfers the sovereign legislative, executive and judicial powers of the people to representatives and government officials who exercise these powers on a day to day basis. Conveniently elites designed representative government to perpetuate their control of the economy and the polity.
“Representative governments––what we call democracies––have become the typical form of governance the world over, except where left-over tyrannies still exist. Representative government has had success when nation-states have been lucky enough to have visionary leaders. But society cannot afford to rely on luck.
“The insanity of two world wars begs the question and the obvious need for global governance. The naïve intellectual concessions to a global government in creating the League of Nations at the end of the First World War was no match for the selfish realpolitik of the nation-state democracies who controlled world affairs between the world wars. After all, representative government as we experience it seems only to perpetuate the power and interests of elites––the rule of the many by the few.
“The selfish greed of the leaders of the representative democracies vying to gain control the colonies of the vanquished and enrich themselves with reparations set the stage for the Second World War. A refurbished League, the United Nations, established primarily at the behest of President Roosevelt, the principle of national self-determination for colonial populations thereby greatly multiplying the number of nation-state members in the United Nations without advancing one iota the democratic design of these countries. Again the work of the elites.
Our Economic System
“Our political and economic systems are inextricably intertwined; a discussion of the one necessitates discussing the other.
“Science gave birth to the industrial revolution and saw its growth in the watershed political awakening of the West. The economic systems of modern times, mercantilism and capitalism, were born of the industrial revolution that paralleled the growth of representative government. Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations in 1776 condemned the excesses of mercantilism, the use of government power to advance private interests. This is essentially, what capitalism does today when it uses campaign contributions––a form of legal bribery––to influence elections that in turn cause government decisions to benefit special interests.
“Socialism and communism were the theoretical response to the cruelty of unbridled capitalism. The tyranny of these two systems, far more oppressive than the original problem, guaranteed their failure. Additionally they lacked the built-in force for efficiency incited by competition and greed. Free market capitalism, the last economic system left standing, is compromised by mercantile influences on representative government to guarantee that the ownership of capital stays where it belongs in capitalism––with the elites.
“The construct of capitalism requires that the profits of capital pay for the cost capital. If that construct is not realized, capital is not created. The societal question that then arises is: who owns the capital after it is paid for by its profits? The answer to that question determines the socioeconomic order of society or who is enriched by the ownership of capital.
“Who owns the capital goods after its profits have paid for them has always been a determination made by the government forces that controlled the polity. The elites and their minions be they monarchs, popes or tyrants exercised control throughout history. With the advent of representative government, it became the mercantile and capitalist barons of industry, who in funding the careers of those who occupied the elected offices of government, thereafter determined who would own the capital (the means of production) after it was paid for by its profits. The government design of corporate industrial, financial and banking institutions established rules to guarantee that the initial owners of capital and its continued ownership would be dictated by and remain with the elites.
“These rules under our system of capitalism are what guarantee the rich getting richer and the poor poorer. Even with the success of an advancing society and the gains that have benefited all in the last century, still the disparity between the rich and poor continues to grow as does the injustice and the violence it breeds.
An Illustrative Example
“Permit me to present an example of an alternative approach in determining the ownership of capital to clarify the discussion above. Remember the construct: the profits of capital must pay for the cost of capital. This example is applicable almost anywhere on earth and under any government. Its effects would reverse the trend of the existing capitalist economic system.
“In South Korea and in America like most areas of the world wind is found in abundance. Rather than continue foreign oil dependency or continue bailing out banks and corporations that have abused their responsibilities, the government could set up a wind turbine loan program. The program would permit government to loan seven billion won or five million dollars interest-free to individuals to permit them to purchase and install wind turbines. These loans could be channeled through banks, who could only charge a service fee, to land owners who brings into an ownership arrangement of the wind turbine four landless individuals with modest net worths.
“A law accompanying the wind turbine loan program would require that the local utility buy the electricity generated by the turbines at avoided costs. Two thirds of the income from the sale of electricity to the utility would be used to repay the government loan, thereby immediately mitigating any inflationary effects of the program. The other third of the income would be equally distributed to the owners of the wind turbine. The owners would not be able to sell or in any way encumber their interest in the turbine until the government loan is paid off, after which time it is their capital free and clear, and they can do with it as they please.
:“The turbine’s electricity can also be used to produce hydrogen and stimulate a new fuel for Korea’s renowned automotive industry.
“This example demonstrates how the power of government can be used to advantage the interest of the many rather than just the few as we customarily see under the present monopoly of representative government. Imagine how citizens acting as lawmakers could legislate such programs with the empowerment of the National Initiative I suggest below.
“A treatment of capitalism would not be complete without understanding the role of organized labor in the construct of capital, the historic role the labor movement has played in societal governance and how labor’s leadership continues to stifle true empowerment of the laboring class.
“Labor, resources and profits are the three elements of capital. When labor’s cost, whether operating on or organizing resources, is rewarded by the ownership of capital, we call it entrepreneurship. When labor is not included in ownership and is paid for like the cost of resources we consider it wages.
“The history of labor, rather than pressing for the ownership of capital, has concentrated on increasing the amount paid for wages as a percentage of the total cost of capital, placing labor in competition with resources and profits. This competition has been violent and generated great social conflict. The force of government laws was used to organize resources into cartels easily controlled by corporate elites. Labor organized into associations of crafts and unions with the goal of increasing wages and improving working conditions.
“Labor leaders sought political power through the organization of their voting majorities in elections. With electoral successes, labor refined its goals to include pensions and health care plans. Never, did labor leaders ever mount a serious campaign to secure capital ownership for working people. I know first hand since I tried while I was in government to convince the labor leaders that the only secure future for the laboring man was in capital ownership.
“Labor leaders are focused on power: the power of dues paying members and the power in controlling the investments of pension and health care funds. Corporate elites accommodated the growth of these funds since it abetted labor strife, and more importantly denied the laboring class the leadership to assault the capital ownership monopoly managed by Wall Street.
“Tying people’s economic well-being to wages has been a socioeconomic tragedy. In times of economic down turns wages became non existent. Of course, government programs, effectively lobbied for by the labor movement and liberals, provide a modest temporary safety net for the unemployed. The cost of this safety net is funded by taxes essentially paid for by wage earners.
“The above is a simple analysis of a slice of the ever more complex global meltdown brought to us by the ruling elites and managed by their acolytes in government’s officialdom. To expect a viable solution from these same agents “of the people” in a representative government is less than naive.
“The structure of representative government maintains citizens in civic adolescence by denying them the opportunity to take responsibility for their actions. Citizens are unable to take responsibility for the results of their actions by being denied the right to vote directly on public policy issues.
“Civic adolescence can be overcome the same way we overcome adolescence in our children by carefully giving them more and more responsibility as they grow and gain experience thereby preparing them to become mature adults. Because policy decisions in government are only made by our representatives, the present structure of representative government denies citizens the opportunity to take responsibility for public policies that affect their lives, gain experience and mature to civic adulthood. Over time civic adolescence erodes the faith people must have in their own sovereignty if democracy is to remain vibrant and strong.
“The greatest damage to the polity by representative government is the civic adolescence it engenders in its constituents. The greatest good that can come from direct democracy is the civic maturity it will engender in people. The civic maturity citizens acquire in taking responsibility for their own self-governance, not only inures to the benefit of the polity, it also adds maturity to individual citizens in their personal, family, institutional and spiritual lives.
The Phenomenon of Continuous Failure
“Look around the world! No objective observer can judge that our system of representative government, designed two hundred fifty years ago and essentially unaltered since, is a match for our 21st Century scientific and technological demands. Representative government, even where it is fairly implemented, is an archaic system of an era long gone. Nevertheless, it continues to benefit the existing elites and in their myopic greed, they use their power to maintain it, even though ultimately it is not in their best long-term interests, being significant members of society.
“The obvious failure of representative government is all around us. The real phenomenon is that people fail to do anything about it. We continue to hope and believe that new political leaders and their promises will see wrongs righted and change come about. A French expression says it all: the more it changes, the more it remains the same. There is no question that society does advance, but is it more the result of individual genius and human enterprise than the archaic structure of representative government. Advances in the polity have come from the bottom up with grassroots movements forcing upon elites and governments changes like woman’s suffrage, civil service and many others that would never have been realized.
“For the human race the issue is one of timing. Can representative government control the destructive malevolent powers holding weapons of mass destruction or the polluting economic forces unleashed by science and technology in the 21st Century, or will time run out before an alternate form of nation-state and global governance come into being? The authoritative Bulletin of Atomic Scientists titles its editorial columns 5 MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT with good reason.
“In the face of the obvious––so many failures in government––why is change so difficult to bring about in our democracies? The answer lies in understanding the three options that change offers to the elites who control society. Things can improve; they can stay the same; or they can get worse. Elites are obviously well off and therefore have no incentive to choose change.
“Of course that is not the case for those who are not well off. The key problem is that those who are prepared to risk change do not control the levers of government, and are thus unable to enact change. The elites not only control and influence government office holders they also control the military, corporate society and the avenues of communication. The culture is manipulated to condition the people to accept the status quo and to hope that election after election will bring change. In the meantime the worst happens: citizens become cynics and consciously or subconsciously lose faith in government and ultimately in democracy. They just don’t care anymore. Family, career and entertainment command their attention; civic responsibility is lost. A condition that suits the elites who control representative government just fine.
Is Change Possible?
“Yes! If we are lucky. I do not know if the planet is beyond the tipping point. Nevertheless, we owe it to ourselves to update our system of governance to match the demands of science and technology in the 21st Century. Where will change in human governance come from? From within the polity. There are only two possible venues for change: the government or the people. Obviously, elites control government and are averse to change; besides government is where the problem exists. Therefore, the only possible venue for change is the people.
“The thirteen American colonies enjoyed varying degrees of direct (town meetings) and representative democracy within an English empire refining its system of home-grown democratic representative government. It was colonial elites that instigated the revolution from England that fortunately for them was democratized to include the people by the writings of Thomas Paine.
“These same elites formalized their republic with a written constitution in 1787 establishing a federal system to overcome individual state sovereignties. The American Constitution has been extensively copied, even though it failed to keep the vision of freedom and equality expressed in the Declaration of Independence eleven years earlier. It has been copied the world over because in reality it accommodated the elites of society in organizing their polities.
“The next significant advance in human governance took place in Switzerland in 1848 at the close of a three year civil war, when in copying the American Constitution the Swiss brought their citizens into the operations of government as lawmakers in a partnership with their elected officials. No less a socio political luminary Alexis de Tocqueville observed that the Swiss experiment would fail because of its diverse languages, cultures, and religions. He was contradicted by time. Nevertheless, this Swiss structure of melding together the people and their representatives in government did maintain the peace for half a century before they actually began making laws.
“People in Switzerland inaugurated the unusual phenomena, during the generation that straddled the 19th and 20th Centuries, where people in the United States and in Uruguay joined with the Swiss in making laws by initiative. The majority of citizens in these three constituencies began drafting and enacting public policies into law. And so began the great advance in human governance of the last century.
“Even though we only have one federal model, Switzerland, we do have hundreds of models at state and local levels of government providing citizens legislative experience for more than 100 years.
The Way Forward
“Only recently has Switzerland overcome its insular shyness to realize that its government structure of direct and representative democracy is the most unique and successful system of national government in the world. As a result of this new awareness it now supports conferences on direct democracy and the Swiss community of Aarau subsidizes the Initiative and Referendum Institute of Europe in promoting direct democracy. The design of the Swiss initiative process though somewhat lengthy in processing issues is embedded in the political culture of its Cantons and obviously works very well for Switzerland.
“However, as a working model for other countries the Swiss design does not seem suitable in that the process is drawn out and seems incapable of responding quickly to 21st Century demands. After all, it was designed 160 years ago and evolved in a rural environment whereas most societies today are urban.
“The Swiss process has a more serious impediment; it does not operate independent of representative government. The American initiative experience at the state and local levels of government confirms that representatives continually attempt to change the process to weaken the ability of citizens to legislate by initiative. Recent history in Switzerland does not seem to indicate that they have this problem. Nevertheless, to avoid a systemic threat, the design of a direct democracy legislative body must be totally independent of representative government, if the sovereign power of the people is to remain superior to that of the government and its representatives. In a legislative partnership of the people and their representatives, the people are the senior partners. This dilution of representative government’s power is why there is such opposition by the elites and those they control to the expansion of direct democracy.
“Additionally, none of the existing operating models of direct democracy provide deliberative legislative procedures, a vital aspect of lawmaking and something that exists in all representative legislative bodies . The absence of procedures precludes the ability to capitalize on modern communications technology to facilitate the deliberative participation of citizens.
“My long time interest in direct democracy has led me to analyze existing legislative practices, to compare procedures from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and to review studies with the goal of improving the direct democracy procedural system of legislating by initiative. The State of California has produced excellent studies but unfortunately none have been able to get beyond the overarching control of elites to become law.
“My work has led me to design an initiative process that establishes a constitutional basis for people to exercise initiative lawmaking at the federal level with a constitutional amendment that is enacted directly by the people without the normal participation of representative government. The amendment’s authority extends the people’s lawmaking power to every government jurisdiction of the federal government’s domain. The amendment is accompanied by a federal statute establishing legislative procedures so that citizens can deliberatively exercise their legislative responsibilities. It also establishes and defines the duties of a Trust, an agency to administer the people’s legislative procedures on their behalf.
“In the United States the task of securing the roughly 60 million votes to enact the National Initiative seemed insurmountable. I therefore decided to run for president in the 2008 election in an effort to use the celebrity nature of my candidacy to bring attention to the National Initiative. It had the desired impact. In one day the National Initiative received more media attention than it had in the prior decade.
“Even so, the expenditure of hundreds of millions of campaign funds shifted the focus of my modestly funded message of empowering people to that of empowering a single politician, Barack Obama, who offered change within the comfortable and easily understood context of representative government. The identity politics of his election mesmerized the nation and to some degree the world with hope. The likelihood of stirring the American citizenry to enact the National Initiative seemed remote for the immediate future, as long as the Obama administration continues to offer such optimism.
A New Venue
“During the month of June 2008 an event on the other side of the world caught my attention. Thousands of people took to the streets in candle-light protests against the South Korean government’s decision to approve the importation of American beef, which the people feared was contaminated by the mad cow disease. I sensed that the protest was a spontaneous outpouring of the people’s sovereign power, a form of political anger over the paternalistic arrogance of representative government. At the time it suggested the possibility of a new venue for the enactment of the National Initiative. However, I had no contacts in South Korea with whom to pursue the idea.
“In October I attended a conference in Aarau, Switzerland sponsored by the Initiative and Referendum Institute of Europe. There, I met Professor Lee, Jung-Ok, who is Managing Director of the International Cooperation Department of the Korea Democracy Foundation. We had occasion to discuss at length the National Initiative process that I had developed for enactment in the United States. I pointed out that it could be made readily applicable to South Korea. She became convinced of that possibility and was able to secure an invitation from the Korea Democracy Foundation for me to visit Seoul in December 2008.
“My week long stay in South Korea, the research I did in preparation for the trip and the research subsequent to the trip now convinces me that South Korea is the likeliest venue in the world to bring about the enactment of a National Initiative model.
The Likeliest Venue
“The central power of government is lawmaking. Citizens give that legislative power to politicians on election day under the present structure of representative government. Until they also reserve legislative power unto themselves, they will never be sovereign in their political constituencies or the masters of their society. Understanding this simple construct of political power is the key to political change.
“The people of South Korea are the most likely community to understand this concept and act upon it, because they are politically disposed to question government authority. Altering policies by making laws directly is a natural and logical extension of the cruder process of forcing representatives to alter laws by street protests. This observation is not made lightly or for the purpose of flattering the Korean people.
“My remark is based on a judgment shaped by a long political life active in partisan affairs, holding party and state elective offices and the experience of serving a dozen years in the Senate, and running for the presidency of the United States. Years upon years of studying the failures of representative government first hand and theorizing various possible solutions and repeatedly attempting those solutions in the face of repeated failure has honed in me an acute judgment of what ingredients are needed in any constituency to bring about the enactment of the National Initiative.
“Korean commitment to democracy is still fresh and vibrant. We see this in the candle-light protests where people are unafraid to disturb their daily lives to express strongly-held political views on policy issues and put themselves at risk to question authority. The freshness of their democracy and its revolutionary spirit stems from the fact that their constitutional experience is recent, dating from 1948. It took six constitutional revisions punctuated by violent protests against tyrants and the shedding of blood to secure the freedom they have.
“The final 1988 constitutional revision ushered in a representative democracy to be envied. Yet, realization of the people’s full sovereignty remains unfulfilled. That fact is repeatedly demonstrated by these spontaneous, peaceful protests, Korean citizens cry out for full legal empowerment––the ability to vote as real sovereigns directly on the policy issues that affect their lives––to vote as legislatively empowered lawmakers.
“Korea is uniquely qualified for this global leadership role. It would certainly be a great surprise to both Americans and Koreans to know that the Republic of Korea’s Constitution is far superior to that of the American Constitution as an instrument of true democracy. The American Constitution has been amended twenty seven times and not once have these amendments been ratified by the people. Amendments to the Korean Constitution, on the other hand can be ratified only by the people.
“The Korean Constitution in its first article acknowledges that: “The sovereignty of the Republic of Korea resides in the people, and all state authority emanates from the people.”
“By contrast the American Constitution does not clearly define the source of the government’s political power. The only reference to the source of political power, drafted by appointed delegates in Philadelphia and ratified by conventions of elected delegate-elites, is in the Preamble to the Constitution with the reference that the “We People…do ordain….” From that stems the fiction that representatives in government are the expression of the will of the people.
“The Korean Constitution provides for a unicameral legislature and makes no concession to the undemocratic representation of geographic areas as in the U. S. Senate.
“Nor does it permit the federal election process to be controlled by state and local authorities (provinces) which is the practice in the United States, established in the Constitution to protect the institution of slavery. The practice continues to this day befuddling the American electoral process. Elections in Korea are conducted by a constitutionally mandated federal, non-partisan Election Management Committee.
“Having a referendum on the Korean National Initiative conducted by the Election Management Committee is a tremendous advantage over any American effort, which requires circumventing government in a political process taking several years, since it must be conducted by a non-profit, private organization. In South Korea the campaign to enact the National Initiative can concentrate on educating the people and when a majority of citizens are prepared to express their support for the National Initiative’s enactment through candle-light marches or public opinion polls, the Election Management Committee can then schedule an election date regardless of the opinions of those in the National Assembly or the President. This is no small advantage. It can save a great deal of money and shorten the process to enact the National Initiative by years.
“As it concerns the campaign, South Korea enjoys another distinct advantage. It is one of the most Internet technology wired nations in the world. Communications and social networking will facilitate organizing and the overall campaign.
“There are a number of areas in the world that have an element or two of the above advantages, but I know of no country that incorporates all of them. Therefore, I conclude and state publicly that South Korea is the likeliest political venue in the world to enact a National Initiative model, empowering its citizens to play a meaningful role in the operation of its government and offering to the peoples of the world a vision and model for real change.
A Korean National Initiative
“The advantages of the Korean Constitution translate into an improved, shorter version of the American National Initiative, with the amendment and the act tailored to the political culture of Korea. The people’s legislative body created under the Korean National Initiative is called a Citizens Assembly meant to parallel the National Assembly, the legislative body of South Korea’s representative government. A Citizens Trust is created to administer the legislative procedures on behalf of the citizens as they perform their legislative responsibilities. This agency is similar in function to the one that serves the National Assembly. Its creation is vital if the Citizens Assembly is to be independent of representative government.
“The election enacting the Korean National Initiative, conducted by the Election Management Committee rather than a private entity as required by the American model, adds considerable credibility to the process, substantially lowers the cost and shortens the time by years.
“Another significant change from the American model also involves initiative elections once the Korean National Initiative is law. Since the Korean Constitution provides for a non-partisan Election Management Committee to conduct the elections of representative government, it obviously makes sense to capitalize on the efficiency of having the Election Management Committee’s responsibilities expanded to conduct all initiative elections and mandate that the Citizens Trust coordinate the schedule of initiatives ready for election with the Election Management Committee.
A Rendezvous With Destiny
“The people of South Korea have a rendezvous with destiny not only because of the improvements they will make in their own system of governance but because the Korean model of direct democracy will become the modern day version of human governance for the peoples of all democracies to copy.
“The Citizens Assembly of South Korea will be watched and its legislative enactments poured over and analyzed by scholars, students, and politicians the world over. The Korea Citizens Assembly will become the standard for a new paradigm of human governance in the 21st Century. Koreans will take their rightful place in the pantheon of history with the ancient Greeks and Romans, the Revolutionary American colonists and the Swiss with their contribution to the advancement of civilization’s human governance.
SECTION BY SECTION ANALYSIS OF
THE KOREAN NATIONAL INITIATIVE
A human being is sovereign by birth. However, in a society of many human beings individuals must cede some measure of sovereignty to the constituency of the whole governing the polity. The exercise of sovereign constituent power must of necessity be by majoritarian rule. The alternative is anarchy, monarchical, autocratic or minority rule.
People are sovereign and all political power emanates from them. The central power of society’s polity is lawmaking––the ability to create a government by constitution, to alter the constitution and to make laws for the civic health of the polity and the happiness of its constituents. Upon this foundation rests democracy.
The structure of democratic polities is representative government. From the beginning it accommodated the wishes of the elites who formed their governments. It also perpetuated their power. Unfortunately, representative government limits the sovereignty of citizens to that of merely electing representatives. For citizens to exercise full sovereignty they obviously must exercise powers beyond the mere selection of representatives––powers that permit them to access the central power of government––the power to alter constitutions and make laws.
The purpose of the Korean National Initiative is to reclaim the full sovereign political power that Korean citizens have been denied by the initial structure of their representative government as defined in their Constitution. Koreans have been precluded from voting on the important political decisions that affect their lives.
There is another purpose. The empirical evidence is overwhelming worldwide that representative government has failed to bring peace and provide for the happiness of the people it serves. Fundamental change is warranted. There are only two possible venues for change: the government, wherein lies the structural deficiency creating our problems, and the people, who lack procedures to exercise their full sovereign powers to bring about fundamental structural change in representative government.
The Korean National Initiative restores full sovereign powers the Korean People were denied when their democracy was initially set up. The Korean National Initiative automatically confers membership on all citizens in the Citizens Assembly and equips them with legislative procedures to make laws in a working partnership with the representative government’s National Assembly and the legislative bodies of their provincial and municipal governments.
Chapter X Amendments to the constitution
Article 131 [Citizen Assembly]
(1) The referendum herein sanctions the Korean National Initiative process that introduces an Amendment to the Korean People enabling them to amend their Constitution and thereby create the Citizens Assembly.
The referendum sanctions the introduction and ratification of the Korean National Initiative by the Korean People. The constitution only provides introductory power to the President and the National Assembly; however, only Korean citizens can ratify an amendment. The ratification power, the final act of approval, is superior to the introductory power; therefore common sense dictates that since citizens have the final authority to approve they implicitly have the preliminary power to introduce amendments. In order to avoid any legal doubt, the first section of the amendment is a self-actuating sanctioning clause of the introduction of the Korean National Initiative by citizens of Korea as a legal expression of the will of the Korean People.
(2) Citizens of Korea compose the Citizens Assembly vested with legislative powers to introduce and enact constitutional amendments and laws.
This section defines the composition of the Citizens Assembly as registered citizens with the power to amend constitutions and make laws.
(3) A Citizens Trust is herein created to administer the legislative procedures of the Citizens Assembly. A Board of nineteen Trustees and a Director shall govern the Citizens Trust.
This section creates a Trust, an administrative agency similar to what all legislative bodies have to administer their procedures and do the necessary housekeeping for the members of the legislative body. It authorizes a Trust of 21 trustees and a director to govern the Trust.
(4) The legislative procedures and the terms of office of the Trustees and the Director are prescribed by a law herein enacted as companion legislation.
This section provides for the enactment of legislative procedures in Korean law and not in the Constitution. Detailed procedures would be too much clutter for a constitution. Deliberation is a vital part of lawmaking; it is accomplished through the use of legislative procedures that have been developed by trial and error experiences over centuries and exist in the legislative bodies of all representative government.
(5) Only natural persons who are citizens may introduce legislation, contribute funds, services or property in support or in opposition to legislative initiatives.
This section is inserted to counter the judicial practice of treating corporations as artificial persons giving them the same rights and privileges as natural persons. This section helps remove the corrupting influence of special interest corporate money in the legislative and electoral process of representative government.
Legislative Procedures Act
This Act becomes part of Korean law but is not an amendment to the Constitution even though it is voted on and enacted into law by the same citizen’s vote that amends the constitution in the Korean National Initiative.
Be It Enacted By the Citizens of Korea:
Section 1. TITLE
This act shall be known and may be cited as the Legislative Procedures Act. (Hereinafter the “Act”)
Section 2. PREAMBLE
We, the People of Korea, inherently possess the sovereign authority and power to govern ourselves. We assert this power in Article 1 (2) of our Constitution. We, Citizens, choose now to participate as lawmakers at all levels of government. We, Citizens, herein sanction this Korean National Initiative whereby a group of Citizens introduced the Citizen Assembly Referendum to the Korean electorate for their decision in an election conducted by the Central Election Management Committee. We, Citizens, choose to exercise our legislative powers by initiative concurrently with the legislative powers we delegate to our legislative representatives in all government jurisdictions.
THEREFORE, We, Citizens of Korea, enact this Legislative Procedures Act, establishing procedures to be administered by the Citizens Trust on behalf of the Citizens of the Citizens Assembly.
The Preamble is the vital part of any law in that it gives an overview of the reasons for the law and how it is to be implemented. In this case it is a restatement of the first three sections of the Korean National Initiative amendment. Additionally and most importantly, it nominates the Central Election Management Committee, the agency under the Constitution that conducts elections and referendums, to conduct the referendum on the Korean National Initiative. It is my judgment that the Committee will take on this responsibility when it is demonstrated in a national poll that more than 50% of Koreans wish to vote on the Korean National Initiative.
The Therefore clause is the actionable enacting part of the entire law
Section 3. PROCEDURES
The Citizen Trust shall qualify initiatives chronologically. The Citizens Trust shall take advantage of contemporary technology in implementing these procedures. The essential elements of the initiative process include, but are not limited to, the following:
The Citizen Trust chronologically qualifying initiatives removes one of the more mischievous practices of representative government. Politicians generally put party gain above public interest. One source of power for political parties is control of the legislative agenda in legislative bodies. The majority party determines what proposed laws are taken up and how they are amended and when votes are taken. A Citizens Assembly will not be influenced or controlled by political parties, therefore it needs a different way to control the flow of legislation that is automatic, transparent and cannot be corrupted. The flow of legislation in the Citizens Assembly will simply be chronological.
The proposition to the Citizens Trust to take advantage of contemporary technology in implementing the legislative procedures is extremely important, since it is the communication technology of the 21st Century that makes the operation of the Citizens Assembly so feasible. The proposition is purposely general in that there is no way of knowing the technological advances that will be produced in the future. Frequently government officials pin down procedures to specific technologies to satisfy supporters. This can be very counterproductive when those technologies become obsolete, yet the political influence behind the initial decision is still effective to pressure their continued use.
Only citizens of Korea who are registered to vote may sponsor an initiative. The Sponsor shall be identified on the initiative, on any petition, and on any qualifying poll.
An initiative shall comprise a Title, a Summary, a Preamble that states the reasons for, and explains why, the initiative is proposed, and the complete text of the initiative.
The title and summary are important to properly identify the initiative since that in most cases is what the public will read.
An initiative shall pertain to a matter of public policy relevant to the government jurisdiction to which it is applicable. The Sponsor shall determine the wording of the initiative. The Title and Summary shall be subject to the approval of the Citizens Trust.
This is to restrict the introduction of initiatives to subjects that are germane to the proper jurisdiction. The Title and Summary shall be subject to approval by the Citizens Trust to protect the public from sponsors who may choose to mislead by including different material in the body of their initiative.
An initiative shall address one subject only, but may include related or mutually dependent parts.
An abusive legislative devise is to stuff unrelated subjects into a supposedly single subject piece of legislation. The one subject rule safeguards the public from this ruse.
E. Word Limit
An initiative shall contain no more than five thousand words, exclusive of the Title, Preamble, Summary, References, Definitions, and language that quote existing law.
If a law cannot be boiled down to 5000 words then likely the sponsors are trying to confuse and obfuscate their true intentions. To give you a sense of proportion, the Korean National Initiative is about 4000 words.
Following approval of the Title and Summary by the Citizens Trust, an initiative may qualify for election in the relevant government jurisdiction by any one of the following methods:
1) Citizen Petition
An initiative shall qualify for election if it is the subject of a petition signed manually or electronically by a number of registered voters, to be specified by the Citizens Trust, within the relevant government jurisdiction. The time period allotted to gather qualifying petition signatures shall be not more than one year, beginning on the date the first signature is collected.
2) Public Opinion Poll of Citizens
An initiative shall qualify for election if the subject matter described in the title and summary is approved in a public opinion poll by a sufficient number of persons wishing to vote on the measure. To qualify by this method, the affirmative percentage, the polling plan, including the number of respondents, the methodology and the entity that will conduct the poll, shall be approved by the Citizens Trust.
The wording of the poll and the tabulation are paramount to the plan that the Trust must be assured reflect the views of the citizens in the jurisdiction affected by the initiative. 1) and 3) are customarily used to qualify initiatives; however, a poll is less expensive and more accurate.
3) Legislative Resolution
An initiative shall qualify for election if a resolution, the wording of which is identical to the initiative as submitted by its sponsor, is passed by simple majority in the legislative body of the relevant jurisdiction.
The Sponsor of an initiative may withdraw an initiative from further consideration and processing at any time prior to a deadline established by the Citizens Trust.
H. Public Hearing
After an initiative qualifies for election, the Citizens Trust shall appoint a Hearing Officer to conduct a public hearing on the initiative. Representatives of the Sponsor and representatives of the legislative body of the relevant jurisdiction shall participate in the hearing in accordance with policies and procedures established by the Citizens Trust. Testimony on the initiative by citizens, proponents, opponents, and experts shall be solicited and their testimony shall be published as the Hearing Record.
I. Deliberative Committee
After the public hearing on each initiative, the Citizens Trust shall convene a Deliberative Committee to review the initiative. The Deliberative Committee shall consist of citizens selected at random from the voter rolls of the relevant jurisdiction maintained by the Citizens Trust. Members of the Deliberative Committee shall be fairly compensated for time spent and expenses incurred in performance of Committee duties. The Citizens Trust shall provide technical support and such additional resources as are necessary for the effective discharge of the Committee’s duties. The Deliberative Committee shall review the Hearing Record, secure expert advice, deliberate the merits of the initiative, and prepare a written report of its deliberations and recommendations. By two-thirds vote, the Committee may alter the Title, Summary, Preamble or text of the initiative, provided that the changes are consistent with the stated purpose of the initiative.
J. Legislative Advisory Vote
Each initiative, together with its Hearing Record and report of the Deliberative Committee, shall be transmitted to the legislative body of the relevant jurisdiction. The legislative body shall conduct a public vote of its members, recording the yeas and nays on the initiative, within 90 days after receipt thereof. The vote of the legislative body is non-binding, serving only as an advisory to the citizens. Upon the completion of the Legislative Advisory Vote, or 90 days after the initiative has been delivered to the legislative body of relevant jurisdiction, whichever occurs first, the Citizens Trust shall coordinate a schedule for the election of the initiative with the Central Election Management Committee.
Central Election Management Committee shall conduct all initiative elections and employ the most advanced technology, like the Internet, and need not be bound to confining an election to a single day. The Committee may expand an election to twenty four hours a day for a week. The Committee shall be motivated to make voting for initiatives as conveniently as possible for Korean Citizens.
The key innovation in this section is the expansion of an election beyond one day. With today’s technology there is no reason why an election should be confined to a day. The Committee may expand an election to twenty four hours a day for a week. Citizen can then vote by Internet from their computers, by mobile phone and any future device that guarantees the security and privacy of the voter.
An initiative that creates or modifies the Constitution, a provincial or municipal charter assumes the force of law when it is approved by more than half the voters in the relevant jurisdiction in each of two successive elections. If such initiative is approved in the first election, the second election shall occur no earlier than six months and no later than a year after, the first election. An initiative that enacts, modifies or repeals statute law assumes the force of law in the relevant jurisdiction when approved by more than half the registered voters participating in an election.
There are two levels of law: constitutional and statute. The former is primary and should not be changed lightly. But the people are sovereign and should be entitled to change primary law––constitutions and charters––as well as statute law. However it should be made more difficult to change primary law so that citizens can appreciate the importance of their legislative decision. The obvious answer is to have two elections rather than provide for a super majority vote which gives more power to minorities.
M. Effective Date
The effective date of an initiative, if not otherwise specified in the initiative, shall be forty-five days after certification of its enactment.
N. Judicial Review
No court shall have the power to enjoin any initiative election except on grounds of fraud. After an initiative has been enacted into statute law, courts, when requested, may determine the constitutionality of the law. Courts have no power to adjudicate initiatives that amend the Korea Constitution.
The court cannot go into a legislate body and question the legislative process, therefore, absent fraud, it has no authority over the Citizens Assembly.
O. Promotional Communications
Any communication, regardless of the medium through which conveyed, that promotes or opposes an initiative shall conspicuously identify the person(s) responsible for that communication, in a manner specified by the Citizens Trust.
P. Campaign Financing
Only Korea citizens may contribute funds, services or property in support of or in opposition to an initiative. Contributions from corporations including, but not limited to, such incorporated entities as industry groups, labor unions, political parties, political action committees, organized religions and associations, are specifically prohibited. Such entities are also prohibited from coercing or inducing employees, clients, customers, members, or any other associated persons to support or oppose an initiative. Violation of these prohibitions is a felony punishable by not more than one year in prison, or a fine not to exceed One Hundred Thirty Million Won, or both, per instance, applied to each person found guilty of the violation.
This section expands sub-article (5) of the Amendment with specific details who cannot contribute to the initiative process and the penalties for violations.
Q. Financial Disclosure
The Citizens Trust shall establish financial reporting requirements applicable to initiative sponsors, proponents and opponents, with monetary thresholds appropriate to the affected government jurisdiction. The Citizens Trust shall make all financial reports available to the public immediately upon its receipt thereof. Failure of sponsors, proponents or opponents to comply with these reporting requirements shall be a felony punishable by not more than one year in prison or a fine not to exceed One Hundred Thirty Million Won, or both, per instance, applied to each person found guilty of the violation.
This section is vital to maintain transparency. The Citizens Trust demonstrates the importance of the financial reports by establishing severe penalties for failures to report.
Section 4. CITIZENS TRUST
The Citizens Trust shall administer the Legislative Procedures Act. The Citizens Trust shall be governed by a Board of Trustees and a Director. The Citizens Trust shall take advantage of contemporary technology in carrying out its mission. The activities of the Citizens Trust shall be transparent to the public.
Section 4 details the operations of the Citizens Trust and is again pressed to take advantage of contemporary technology in carrying out its mission and maintain transparency.
The Citizens Trust shall impartially administer the Act so as to facilitate the exercise of the citizens’ legislative power. The Citizens Trust shall ensure that citizens may file, qualify and vote on initiatives relevant to any government jurisdiction at any time and from any location. The Citizens Trust shall neither influence the outcome of any initiative, nor alter the substance of any initiative, except as specified in Section 3.I, “Deliberative Committee”.
B. Board of Trustees
The Board of Trustees shall establish policy for and perform oversight of the Citizens Trust.
The Board of Trustees shall include 19 members: one member selected by the legislative body of each of the 8 provinces, one member selected by the legislative body of each of the 8 largest municipalities, one member selected by the National Assembly, one member selected by the President, and one member selected by the Supreme Court. All members selected must be non-partisan and demonstrate a commitment to the citizen’s right to make laws and the success of the Citizens Assembly.
2) Term of Office
Members of the Board of Trustees shall serve a single term of four years.
3) Removal of Trustees
Any member of the Board of Trustees shall be removed from office upon a three-fourths vote of the full membership of the Board of Trustees. A vacancy on the Board of Trustees shall be filled by same original selection process.
The Board of Trustees shall meet at least annually and at such other times and in such places as it deems appropriate to conduct its business. All meetings of the Board shall be publicized in advance and open to the public, except as required by law. The Citizens Trust shall publish the minutes and video recordings of all meetings of the Board, except as required by law.
The Director of the Citizens Trust is the Chief Executive Officer of the Citizens Trust and is responsible for its day-to-day management and operations, consistent with the policies established by the Board of Trustees.
1) Term of Office
The Director is appointed for a six year term and is limited to one additional six year term. The first director is appointed by the Board of Directors of the non-profit Korean National Initiative Corporation. Subsequent Directors shall be elected by majority of the Board of Trustees.
The reason for the first director is appointed by the Korean National Initiative corporate board is to guaranty that their vision to empower the Korean people continues to play a leadership roll at the beginning of this unusual undertaking.
2) Removal of Director
The Director shall be removed from office upon a vote of two thirds of the membership of the Board of Trustees, or by a majority of the voters participating in a national recall election.
A vacancy in the position of Director shall be filled by majority vote of the full membership of the Board of Trustees.
D. Oath or Affirmation of Office
Each Member of the Board of Trustees, the Director and each employee of the Citizens Trust shall execute the following oath or affirmation of office as a condition of his or her service: “I, (name), (swear or affirm) that I will, to the best of my ability, defend and uphold the Constitution of the Republic of Korea and the sovereign authority of its Citizens to exercise their legislative power.”
E. Organization and Responsibilities
The Citizens Trust shall staff and organize itself to fulfill its mission and shall develop policies, procedures and regulations to register citizens upon their becoming eligible to vote, to assist sponsors in preparing initiatives for qualification, to process initiatives, and to coordinate all elections with the Central Election Management Committee. The Citizens Trust may select and contract for facilities and services, and prescribe staff duties and compensation. The Citizens Trust may also apply for and receive funds, and incur debt when necessary, and shall act in a responsible manner as a fiduciary agency of Citizens.
1) Existing Law
In fulfilling its responsibilities and performing its duties, the Citizens Trust shall comply with applicable laws and regulations of every government jurisdiction of the Republic of Korea in which it operates that do not conflict with its mission defined in Section 4A, “Mission”. Where laws are in conflict, this Act shall supersede.
2) Research and Drafting Service
The Citizens Trust shall establish and operate a legislative research and drafting service to assist citizens in preparing initiatives.
This service is important to guarantee that legislation is properly written and constitutional thereby avoiding costly court challenges. Prospective legislation is researched so as to avoid duplication.
The Citizens Trust shall establish the means, procedures and regulations to facilitate the communication of timely, comprehensive, balanced, and pertinent information on the subject matter of each initiative, which information shall be conveyed to the citizens of the relevant jurisdiction by various media, including radio, television, print, and the Internet and/or other electronic media. The Citizens Trust shall establish and maintain a web site for each qualified initiative that will contain, at a minimum, a summary of the Hearing Record, the report of the Deliberative Committee, the result of the Legislative Advisory Vote, statements prepared by the Sponsor, other proponents and opponents, and a balanced analysis prepared by the Citizens Trust of the pros and cons of the initiative, its societal, environmental, and economic implications, costs and benefits.
This level of information guarantees that regardless how much money is spent for or against an initiative the citizen will have sufficient information to make an objective informed vote.
4) Hearings and Deliberative Committees
The Citizens Trust shall organize a Hearing to receive testimony and shall convene a Deliberative Committee to deliberate on each qualified initiative. The Citizens Trust shall provide or arrange for professional Hearing Officers and Deliberation Facilitators, technical consultants and support staff and facilities as needed for the effective conduct of Hearings and Committee activities.
Both these activities are customary to most legislative bodies and are vital to the lawmaking process.
The Citizens Trust shall coordinate with the Central Election Management Committee to devise and administer policies and procedures for the proper conduct of initiative elections. In doing so, it shall take advantage of contemporary technology in agreeing to procedures for voting and validating votes. All such policies and procedures shall be neutral with respect to the content of initiatives, their administration and the outcomes of elections.
Korea has an advantage in already having a non-partisan election authority experienced in conduc