Sunday, February 11, 2007

Cokie Roberts Flashback

While hunting for something I stumbled upon this column she wrote with her husband in 1997. Excerpt:

"The Internet is the best thing in my lifetime for grassroots organizing,"
exults the Project's director, Jamie Love. He's managed to use the system
to influence various government agencies, and to educate the public. Love
argues that this type of organization and communication cuts through the
special interest politics that he believes rules Washington. "I think
there's a general sense that people who can hire a guy and game the system
have a leg up," says Love.

Somewhere between 250,000 to 350,000 people check into the site dealing
with congressional activities every day. And then many of these people
get in touch with their representatives, by e-mail, of course.

They also get in touch with each other on public policy issues. According
to Love, it's like an electronic town meeting. That analogy makes our
blood run cold. Remember, that was Ross Perot's big idea. Let's just all
get together, via computer, and let the politicians know what we want, so
then they will do it! No more pandering to the big contributors, no more
deals between members, just the voice of the people will be heard!

We hear that and shudder. To us it sounds like no more deliberation, no
more consideration of an issue over a long period of time, no more
balancing of regional and ethnic interests, no more protection of minority

The Founders were clear in their advocacy of representative democracy as
opposed to direct democracy. In The Federalist, James Madison asserted
that "the public voice pronounced by the representatives of the people
will be more consonant to the public good than if announced by the people
themselves convened for that purpose."