This week past, I have been listing to a PGMLS CD "Adams vs. Jefferson" by John Ferling; it gives the political history surrounding the election of 1800 and the transition from a federalist dominated government to a republican dominated government. I had some sympathy for John Adams who did not quite fit either group and was more at the concern for "balance of powers" in the government. Federalist were the party of Mercantile Wealth and control, favoring a top down leadership by a few oligarchs. They came up with burdensome taxation of the lower economic classes and the "Aliens and Sedition Act"; could not say anything against the government or you were likely to end up in prison. The non sequitur, is they sounded a lot like today's Republicans. And the then Republicans sounded like today's conservative Democrats, liberal Republicans, and Libertarians (mostly).
In a digressionary moment, I wondered, about when did the Red/Liberal and Blue/Conservative states of the 1960's become the Red/Conservative and Blue/Liberal States of the 2000's. I also am trying to wrap my mind around the "English" fighting the "British", during 350 to 650 AD, in the British Isles from a history book on the period.
There is a common thread in all this, in my opinion...that is consensus and the necessity of a balance of powers to bring about the consensus at any level of government.
I have brought an old RIVERDALE OBSERVER out of the archives. At the time an elected official of Riverdale Park told me that "it would not allow anything to get done." I replied, "only the things that have a consensus of the people will be done." And apologies, I understand are due, for not using a pure mathematical sense of fractals. John Adams was the inspiration then also. It is my offering to start a discussion of how best to acheive consensus on what we do as a people in Riverdale Park
The Riverdale Observer
Spontaneous Order out of Chaos
A Fractal Republic for the Age of the World Wide Web
The Past Is Prologue. Let us John Q. Citizens take a trip back in history. The year is 1776. A fiery radical from New England, by the name of John Adams, was trying to stir up an independence movement with his republican confederates from Pennsylvania and Virginia. He was a strong advocate for a limited government and a republican government to replace the monarchical rule the colonies then suffered under. John Adams finally had his day, July 4th 1776. The Revolutionary War, The Articles of Confederation, and the various problems these United States had, influenced John Adams in his writing "A Defense of the Constitutions of Governments of the United States of America". Adams who was neither a federalist nor an anti-federalist was working from a different perspective. His guiding concern was how to balance the power between the interests of the one, the interests of the few, and the interests of the many. Adams feared the power of the unbridled MONARCH, as much as the NOBILITY, or the DEMOCRATIC MOB. Government needed to be limited, and each interest needed to be checked by the other two. His first concern was validated by George III, the third by the unicameral legislature of the French Revolution that led to the Reign of Terror. The French reformed their government for a second and a third time. The third time was modeled on John Adam's balance of power between the one, few, and many, and in doing so the French achieved a large degree of stability. As we know the new United States Constitution also was built with the numerous checks and balances in it, and serves us well.
From this bit of history, we jump to modern science and the study of chaos. One feature of chaos is the unpredictability of when or what event is going to take place, but with in that is the interesting occurrence of patterns that repeat themselves at ever smaller and larger scales. These repeating patterns are called fractals. It is in this sense, that my opinion is, the federal constitution has not devolved to the local governmental level.
My observation to share with you is that we have the federal fractal with its balance of powers and we have the state fractal with its balance of powers. However we do not have the Riverdale Park fractal, which I hope to persuade you that we should have. I will further suggest how this balance of power between the one, the few, and the many, may be instituted in Riverdale Park.
The town of Riverdale Park as it is presently constituted has only the executive and the legislative functions of government. To provide the protection of the minority as offered in the republic form of government we need to provide restraint on the rule of majority as provided in the democratic form of government. That balance of power comes from the judicial function of government. That judicial protection exists only at the county level and above, and the resources of the county and local governments can overwhelm the resources of an individual.
A better democratic representation of, and a greater republican protection of the minority can be achieved by the establishment of some executive and legislative reforms, as well as the addition of a local judiciary, which reforms are presented below:
Â• The Mayor will be elected as now. The Mayor to check the power of the few should have a veto of legislation that has passed both councils by a 3/5 ths vote. The Mayor's veto can be over ridden by a 4/5 ths vote.
Â• The town legislature represents the power of the few in that it can be checked by the mayor, but can also check the mayor. The council should also be bicameral so that there is a check and countercheck of ward (few) interest versus town interest (many). The legislature should be composed of the Council of Wards with one member elected from each of five wards by majority vote, and the Town Council with five members elected at large by list proportional voting with accumulative votes. The at large member with the largest vote total will be the Vice Mayor to serve temporarily for the Mayor in the case that a Mayor becomes incapacitated, or to become Mayor in the case of an existing Mayor leaving office during an elected term. The next highest vote ranking at large member will become Vice Mayor, and a special election will be held to fill the vacated lowest ranking seat. This election will also be conducted by list proportional voting. List proportional voting provides for the greatest consensus of who should serve on the legislature.
The level of representation in each Ward would be one per one thousand. The Town Council will allow for at least five major issues to be represented
Â• The judicial branch represents the power of the many, and is the check on the one and the few by the use of a common law jury. The judicial branch can be established by instituting an elected ombudsman, also elected by list proportional voting, to hear citizens' complaints against the executive or legislative branches (we may also consider a hearing in a citizen to citizen complaint), after all administrative remedies are exhausted. The ombudsman will attempt a mediation over a specified period of time. Failing a resolution, the ombudsman will call a common law jury of twelve randomly drawn jurors from a volunteer pool of registered voters. The government official in question and the citizen will put their arguments to the common law jury (see Maryland Declaration of Rights, Article 23 for the duties of juries). The jury will judge the law and the facts of the case and will need an unanimous decision to find for the government. The jury nullification shall apply only to the case at hand and shall set no precedence.
Finally we return to history to get our guidance, for "The Past Is Prologue". Gather all ye citizens around the Liberty Tree and sing praises to the Creator and His Creation, Free Will.
"WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness - That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."
The Declaration of Independence
Action of Second Continental Congress, July 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States
Submitted Respectfully, Jack R. Jones, July 1999