THE BLOG
11/11/2013 11:58 am ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

A Proposal for Direct Republics

A direct democracy on a global scale is not yet feasible. An interim option is what I name a direct republic: An elected representative body writes the new laws for final ratification by direct votes of the people. A direct republic can work locally, nationally and globally.

Once or twice a year, the elected congress refers drafted laws and policy proposals to citizens for their vote. To keep new laws few but worthy, I advise requiring a two-thirds or else three-fourths majority vote for ratification. This can avoid polarizing pluralities.

Beyond ballot referendums, the right of the people to initiate or rescind laws by petition must be held sacred. This lets voters redress grievances. To ward off corruption, enact "truth in petitioning" laws. Require single-topic ballot titles with short, clear language. Certify all petition carriers' knowledge of proposals. Ban per-signature pay for petition carriers. Punish lying to obtain signatures.

Elect legislatures with proportional representation. End "winner-takes-all" elections. If 20 percent of the people vote Libertarian or Green, 20 percent of the legislature must be Libertarian or Green. This policy can protect minorities from the tyranny of the majority. Also, look into electing delegates through Instant Runoff Preference Voting (instantrunoff.com) for more fairness.

Every vote counts, so every vote must be counted. Elections must protect voter anonymity. Ballots must clearly reflect the voters' intent. Election integrity expert Brad Friedman asserts that every electronic voting machine is vulnerable to tampering. He claims hand-marked, publicly counted paper ballots are the only verifiable form of voting. I agree. Still, I hope for viable Internet voting someday.

To guard against legislators being corrupted by private interests, require publicly funded elections, paid by taxes. Remove all private money from public elections. This assures free speech for all, regardless of class, and shuts off a source of legal bribery. Term limits also help.
Ensure the people are informed enough to vote wisely. To counter private propaganda, mandate equal media time for all candidates and all sides on ballot issues, as the U.S. Fairness Doctrine once did.

Good pay and benefits draw the best candidates. Good pay offsets a necessary ban on gifts and job promises for officials. If corruption is detected, hold fair and open criminal trials with juries.

What guards our freedom under a global constitution? Build on the U.S. Bill of Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Balance liberty and responsibility. Separate "church and state."

What about law enforcement? What can stop a global police force from becoming a standing army to oppress us? Copy the UN "white helmets" plan. Countries provide troops only as needed. If any rogue nation or corporation violates international law, let the world congress draft a warrant for speedy global ratification. A consensus, by itself, may deter criminals before trade sanctions or war can harm anyone. Seek to avoid war in territorial disputes over resources. Rather than resorting to force, put the matter to a vote.

To settle civil and criminal claims, including war crimes, create an independent judiciary. Sustain the presumption of innocence, trial by jury, and equal justice under the law. The World Court and the International Criminal Court could evolve into this legal system. Elect term-limited judges. Do not elect pawns of any elites.

You may well ask, where is the "king" in this global government? There is none. A chairperson or a president with defined diplomatic or administrative duties may be logistically useful, but nothing brings ruin to society like kings and their puppet masters.

Congress may nominate an administrator or an executive team, but ratify nominations in a direct vote by the people. Restrict executive power. Just like the UN Secretary General manages UN agencies yet influences member states only by diplomacy, a global executive must never be able to dictate policy! This principle is crucial for the system to succeed. Instead of an executive signing bills into law, ratification for all global laws must come ONLY from voters worldwide.

Do not ignore the risk of a person with a secret desire to rule the world trying to be the top executive. Limit the term of office. Ban all gifts, job promises or honoraria while in office. Confer fine comforts in office and after, so temptation is resisted. Conviction for corruption merits prison and the confiscation of corrupt proceeds.

As a model, consider the 12-Step movement's Second Tradition: "Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern." Leaders may only carry out the decisions of the group conscience.
Checks and balances are vital, yet power belongs with the people -- not the legislature, not the courts, not the executive. We the people possess an inalienable natural right of consent over every law governing us. To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, government by the people must be equal to government of the people and government for the people. Good government upholds self government. As Paine wrote, "That government is best which governs least."

A final precept: All powers of government not specified in a global constitution must remain at the national and local levels. For autonomy, keep as much decision-making at the local level as possible.

To reiterate, in lieu of humanity ever maturing enough for direct democracy, I propose the idea of a direct republic, local to global, so all laws are enacted only with the informed consent of the voters.

A direct republic is a pivotal change in how we think about democracy. Such a shift in popular thinking about government and citizenship is long overdue. Since this idea is new, let me repeat that I'm offering only hints for wiser minds to develop into a global constitution. Your ideas may be much better, and I urge you to publish them.

Perhaps I am foolish to propose any vision for global governance, but if we aim for the stars, we may at least reach the moon. Of course, some say it would take extraterrestrials landing at UN Headquarters before we would ever create a global government. Perhaps, but while I'd welcome proof of Paine's belief that we humans are not alone in the cosmos, I'd watch that event with mixed emotions.

We do not need ancient space "gods" returning to rule the world for us. We can rule ourselves. Our universal oneness empowers us for freedom, responsibility, creativity, abundance, and world peace.

Let us claim our spiritual and political power now.

This article is an excerpt from the new Hoku House book by Judah Freed, The Dawn of Global Sense: Awakening to the Rising Global Consciousness Now Changing Our Lives (A call for world enlightenment inspired by Thomas Paine's Common Sense)