HAVANA TIMES — If you ask me who I want to vote, my answer would be everyone: the more, the better. We should all definitely have this power, but this reminds me of what the popular Spider-Man says, “with great power comes great responsibility” and voting, well my idea of voting, is a great power so it would be a good idea if everyone did so responsibly.
Universal suffrage is an amazing achievement which many people fought to make a widespread practice when the selfish elite wanted to limit it by excluding large groups because of their gender, race, financial status or social origin, which have all been stigmas that one part of society has used against another. In order to overcome such injustice, people fought for universal suffrage and they were successful in many places.
With today’s global economy showing signs of dangerous exhaustion, we are reaching a breaking point; at the beginning of modern-day capitalism, this was resolved with revolutions, whether it was the British revolution, the French Revolution, the Netherlands or Belgium gaining their independence.
The inequity of this system today exceeds financial crises and corrupts the very pillars of democracy. Luckily, the capitalist system and its dizzying technological advances have allowed us to do something that was conceived for populations that were only 50,000 in size, thereby preventing bloody revolutions and establishing a direct democracy, which is now accessible to millions of humans using ICTs (Information and Communications Technology).
In this scenario, directly excluding social sectors wouldn’t be the biggest danger to the voting process, but rather the demagogic manipulation of charismatic leaders who use the system to get a boost to power and then subvert the system from there.
It could be useful to change our conception in this regard, that’s to say, while the right to vote should be universal, access to exercising this right should be mediated.
It’s not a big change, access to voting is already mediated by age, residence, legal status… In a direct democracy, people’s level of knowledge and interest should also be measured.
Something like this would be perfectly acceptable in a country with widespread, basic education. It wouldn’t be a limiting factor, but a condition. All you would need to do is take an interest and dedicate some time. I believe this is not very much to ask at all to be able to use such an important power because if you aren’t interested and don’t want to dedicate any time to informing yourself, it’s better you don’t vote.
This system would work in a world where most people are virtual users and Estonia is the best example of this today.
Using this technology as a basis, every citizen, without distinction, would have the right to pass a knowledge exam which prepares them in a political sense, like the written exam when you want to learn how to drive.
Every citizen would have the right to prepare themselves politically-speaking and take part, no matter where they live; like everyone has the right to participate or not.
This preparation wouldn’t end with an election because it will be the people who pass laws, be it in a representative chamber or by citizen initiatives. Plus, they would form part of the largest and most dynamic parliament ever created and this will express citizens’ desires much more clearly as they won’t be mediated by representatives and, therefore, will be more real.
What I’m proposing might initially seem like a restriction on universal suffrage, but it isn’t. What I am proposing is fair because absolutely everyone has the right to politically prepare themselves to vote.
Direct Democracy has its dangers, but it’s the only true democracy that exists. This preparation process is a way to foresee one of these dangers: demagogies.
Empowering citizens via a Direct Democracy is the next step in our species’ political evolution. Today, the world has stopped being a global community and has become a large, interconnected network which allows us to replace current power systems and big decisions being made by a more or less representative elite, with a much wider base where general interests are really what take the forefront.
The greatest objection to what I propose is that this preparation process might benefit privileged classes more. I believe that these classes are already the most privileged in the current system we have where a representative and inbred elite make all the decisions. Widening the decision-making base to all the population via a direct democracy would help resolve this problem, but in order to present collective decisions to a parliament made up of every country’s inhabitants, we need training and preparation to be able to exercise this great power responsibly.
Wouldn’t a post-Castro era be a good time and place to try this out?