WHO WANTS PEACE?
We, the People, paid the price. But we learned from it: By 1975, public opinion polls showed that "65 percent of Americans oppose military aid abroad because they feel it allows dictatorships to maintain control over their populations" (from a Harris poll). Yet our government continued to arm the world, to deceive and to lead us recklessly into war: arming, then fighting Manuel Noriega; arming, then fighting Saddam Hussein; and, as recently as May of this year, financing the Taliban to the tune of $43 million. Only the PR has improved! The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, exactly a year before he was assassinated, on April 4, 1967, spoke of "the greatest purveyor of violence on the planet - my own government."
Those polls quantify what President Eisenhower had stated: "The people want peace; indeed, I believe they want peace so badly that the governments will just have to step aside and let them have it." But they haven't stepped aside!
WHO WANTS WAR?
In my two terms in the United States Senate and as Speaker of the House in the Alaska Legislature, I became convinced that power corrupts absolutely everybody--including myself when I had power. (I've had 20 years to recover.) In an attempt to limit that corrupting influence, in 1977 I joined Senators Hatfield and Abzourek in what proved to be a vain effort to pass the "Voter Initiative Amendment", which would have given We, the People, a vote on the issues. I was naive to think that Congress would want to share even that much power with The People.
THE DEMOCRACY AMENDMENT
This is not going to be "instant democracy." Our proposal includes extensive hearings, deliberations by randomly-selected "citizen juries" and much public information and discussion. Claims that the initiative process existing in 23 US States and Washington, D.C., has been corrupted by big money are largely false. The best academic studies show much the opposite. See http://vote.org/gerber. Most real problems with initiatives are caused by the limitations imposed on the people by the legislatures. In spite of this, a century of state initiatives show the people have a superior track record of legislation -much of which was later adopted by Congress (see http://www.vote.org).
In addition to providing a check and balance to the Military-Industrial Complex, and other powerful interest groups, there are many other reasons for us to share law-making power with politicians. With this new power, We, the People, will learn responsibility instead of being treated like civic children by our elected representatives. It gives us an incentive to educate ourselves. It gives politicians some competition -an incentive to do better. The 9/11 attacks give us a new reason: If the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania had hit the US Capitol, as the hijackers apparently planned, the US might now be without a legislative branch of government. Thanks to the heroism of The People on that flight, the U.S. Capitol was saved. The "Legislature of the People" that would be created by the Democracy Amendment would be everywhere, impossible to target. (Similarly, a national energy policy based on wind, solar and other renewable and decentralized energy would also be more secure and ecological than our centralized oil-based and Middle East based policy. Polls show the vast majority of people want this.)
WHAT YOU CAN DO
DON'T HATE THE GOVERNMENT, BECOME THE GOVERNMENT!
Sen. Gravel's bio available here.