Most Local Democratic Process of All
August 6, 2001
There is a lot of debate these days about what is the best
type of government. The consensus seems to be that state governments
are better than Federal government and that local governments
are better than state governments. City Councils know how
to better run their cities than bureaucrats at the state level,
and so forth.
After all, city council members are elected by a democratic
majority. The same could be said about local school board
members. By majority vote, they make decisions for the community
or district they represent. By access to democratic rule,
the minority adheres to the wishes of the majority. If the
majority says we need to raise taxes to pay for paving the
streets, the minority cannot defer from paying taxes simply
because they did not agree with the majority.
It could be argued that the most local democratic process
of all - even more local than city councils and school boards
- are the local unions. They have elections no different from
those for President, Governor, or City Council Member. The
majority agree to a contract and the minority cannot defer
from the decisions simply because they do not agree. That
would run counter to democratic rule. The minority can opt
out paying their dues simply because they do not "believe"
The "right-to-work" laws are in opposition to our democratic
principles of majority rule. It would be no different in substance
than saying we will not pay taxes next year because we do
not agree with the person that was chosen by the majority
to be President of this nation. Or we will not pay 10 cents
more in state taxes for gasoline because we do not agree with
the Governor. Or we will not pay property taxes for school
bond because we disagreed with how the majority voted.
It is wrong to argue that the democratic process stops with
city councils at the local level and cannot be practiced at
any lower level in our society. Local unions are, in reality,
the most democratic institutions in our representative democracy.
They have a higher percentage of participation in their electoral
process than even the Presidential election. They adhere to
the principles of the Constitution and the ideal of representative
On the other hand, it could be argued that the business community
is the most undemocratic and autocratic institution in our
nation. Our guaranteed rights and freedoms are surrendered
at the corporation gate. For the privilege of contributing
his labor to the corporation, the worker may be asked to take
a lie detector test or to urinate in a cup to proof he is
worthy to enter the gate. Illegal in any other place in our
society, his phone calls may be monitored without his knowledge.
Likewise, his e-mail and inter-office communications. He may
be subjected to surveillance by secret cameras and recording
devices. Who is really looking out for the interests of the
working people of this country?