Paul Jacob

You should sit down to read this. I have a confession to make. I?m a democrat. Don?t scream. Capitalization is rather important here. I?m a small "d" democrat.

You didn?t think I was a card-carrying member of the Democratic Party, did you?

While I?m a small "r" republican because I believe government must be limited to those powers listed rather succinctly right there in that forgotten old Constitution of ours, I?m a small "d" democrat because I believe that government must be managed in as democratic a method as possible. These two concepts work together, whether the two parties bearing their names do or not.

Citizen control of government is not merely desirable, it is absolutely essential. And I trust the people--at least, a whole lot more than I trust the politicians.

Oh, sure, these days it just isn?t as hip to be for the people, the little guy, the average Joe. (Though, the Average Joe must be making a comeback of sorts--he now has his own TV show.) The media and political elite disdain democracy. They attack initiative and referendum in the states and cities that have it. They attempt at every turn to derail the popular term limits train. And they criticize recalls of elected officials, even when those officials have lost all credibility, as was the case with now-former California Governor Gray Davis.

Either citizens control government or government will be controlled by a king, an aristocracy, a cabal, an elite. Worse yet, either citizens control government or government will control the citizens. A benevolent king requires Disney animation, and there are no sweet fairy tales about benevolent elites. Our country?s self-proclaimed political elite--like every other--is regularly in dire need of overthrow.

Democracy is necessary because it is peaceful overthrow, a process for citizens to choose their representatives, to recall and replace those representatives and, more importantly, to check the actions of their representatives and even to reform the system when necessary.

That?s why I?m a democrat. But why aren?t the Democrats democrats, too? Why do most elected Democrats oppose citizen initiative, referendum and recall, even while voters of all persuasions favor these reforms?

Everywhere Democrats seem afraid of the notion for which they are named. Do they fear the voters don?t agree with them enough? Then, these Democrats believe in the process only when they win--in the oh-so-great democratic tradition of the world?s dictators.

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.