Many keen observers of our representative democracy comment again and again about our broken political system, especially because of the corrupting influence of money on our elected representatives. Too often, the resulting public policy provides benefits to the corporate-military-industrial complex rather than enhancing the public interest.
During my many years in elective office, I saw the trade-offs and pay-offs (direct and indirect) that are common in the political arena. I saw how difficult it was – and is – for the most well intentioned elected officials to bring about the needed changes because of our flawed government structure. And, typically, in their attempts to navigate a flawed system, the legislators themselves become flawed.
How can we achieve public policy that more closely reflects the public interest? Bring the people – American voters – into a decision-making role in government as citizen-lawmakers in partnership with their elected representatives. The National Initiative for Democracy (NI4D), a legislative proposal that amends the Constitution and provided legislative procedures in a Federal Statute, does just that: empowers citizens (you and I) to be able to vote on the public policies that affect our lives – empowers citizens (us) as lawmakers.
I ran for president to bring attention to the National Initiative. As a result:
There is a growing list of volunteers
We are sending out monthly news letters
Other people than myself are now speaking out about this in public
People are planning film projects about NI4D
More and more people are blogging about the National Initiative
A very real grass-roots effort has begun which will be difficult to ignore
NI4D is far more well known today than before I ran for president.
However, the problem now is that the Obama presidency has generated a renewed optimism that representative government may work this time. Donations have greatly decreased. It will take some time before Americans realize that electing a new cadre of politicians will not bring change. As I said in the campaign: “follow the money if you want to know the kind of government you're going to get.” Wall Street continues to rule the economy, banks are getting most of the stimulus, and the military defense budget grows.
The rhetoric of White House policy is considerably improved and sounds cooperative but with one thousand military bases around the world, our nation's policy remains imperialistic, even though we are broke and going the way of all empires.
I continued to speak out against these misguided policies and offered the obvious solution: empower American citizens as lawmakers. At a conference on direct democracy, last October in Switzerland, a professor from South Korea heard me speak about the National Initiative and asked if it could be applicable in Korea. My research before and since my subsequent trip to South Korea has convinced me that South Korea is one of the likeliest venues in the world to enact a National Initiative.
Democracy is a lot fresher in the minds of Koreans, evidenced by the people’s candlelight protests. They have the highest per capita savings rate in the world, so are the least likely nation to be affected by the global meltdown. Korea is one of the most Internet-wired nations in the world. And English is a mandated educational requirement from kindergarten on.
Most significantly, the South Korean Constitution is superior to our own.
Article 1 of the Korean Constitution states:“all power emanates from the people” .
Only the people can amend the Korean Constitution – they did eight times. The U.S. Constitution has been amended 27 times - not once by the people.
American federal elections are conducted by state and local governments and as a result are subject to partisan corruption. The Korean Constitution creates a non-partisan Central Election Management Committee to conduct all elections.
Korean citizens enjoy a lifetime voter registration regardless where they live.
The host of my initial trip (Korea Democracy Foundation) was not able to extend financial support for my return trip to Korea due to delays in government funding,. Nevertheless, some members of the Foundation and others have facilitated setting up lectures at universities and civic organizations. The title of my lecture says it all: “This Generation of Koreans has a Rendezvous with Destiny.”
I use the lecture to motivate volunteers from the audience to join teams committed to inform Koreans about the Korean National Initiative (KNI) and to seek its enactment by Korean voters in a national election. KNI is a recast of the American National Initiative. In three weeks starting from scratch, I have been able to develop eight teams with more than sixty members. The quality of the volunteers is awesome. Teams meet weekly and have 5 to10 members; when they acquire more than 10 members, they will replicate themselves into new teams. I personally meet with each of the teams to get them organized. The team strategy is the beginning of a grassroots educational movement to acquaint Koreans about the empowerment opportunity of the National Initiative.
I firmly believe we can succeed in enacting the National Initiative in Korea. The global attention generated by this success will become the catalyst to enact the National Initiative in the U.S. The KNI will then become the 21st century national model for direct democracy copied by most G-20 countries.
My wife, Whitney, and I are funding my present trip in Korea from our modest personal resources. We cannot continue beyond June, even though my message is resonating with Koreans. The fees, when available, for my lectures do not cover all of my living and travel expenses. It will take at least five months before I can secure the government authority for a foundation in Korea that will then permit us to raise funds from Koreans.
The Democracy Foundation (the sponsor of the National Initiative) needs funding to prosecute its programs in the U,S. and to finance my travel expenses until we can do a Korean fund raising campaign. I desperately need your help. Therefore, I am appealing to you – the 8,000 supporters on my Facebook political account, and the 20,000 in the U.S. National Initiative database – to make a donation to keep the National Initiative vision alive.
I hope you will respond to this appeal. The situation is critical and the opportunities enormous. I need your help, and I need it now. Thank you in advance and for your help in promoting direct democracy. Follow our progress at www.mikegravel.us and at www.NI4D.US.