San Diego Review June 1, 1996
A Vietnam Vet and Senate Dove
by Dwayne Hunn
If all goes according to plan, the Alternative Media Conference(August 12-14th 1996) will find two guys talking about major Political Reform at People’s Lobby news hour. One won a Silver and three Bronze Stars in Vietnam. The other filibustered the Senate to end the draft and make additional Vietnams more difficult.
The first created the American Initiative Committee which has run over 300 initiative campaigns. The second was Alaska’s United States Senator from 1969-81. Both have now dedicated their careers to making the national initiative process an American way of life. Following are excerpts taken from People’s Lobby education video series with both men — Rick Arnold and Mike Gravel
Why did you become interested in the initiative process?
Rick: Our company believes in the process, believes we need more direct democracy and sees this as one of the ways to have more access to and oversight of our government… Our representative form of government is going down a road that is not in the best interests of the people. We must work on some combination of representative government and direct democracy, where people are going to give some direction to politicians as to how we live under the Constitution…
How would you implement the National Initiative process
Rick: I believe we need a constitutional amendment. Some people feel this is a sovereign right that we never lost and that we only need a way to implement it.. My feeling is that even though that is the correct legal interpretation, since we have lived under the Constitution for over 200 years we should clarify the right by putting it inside the Constitution. Others, like Mike Gravel and Barbara Vincent, feel that we could conducted a national election on this issue that would force the Congress to create the National Initiative process …
Why should people support your Philly II proposal, establishing a national initiative process without going the Constitutional amendment route?
Mike: Philly II will put in place the procedures, you don’t need to change the Constitution, that will permit citizens to make national policy. Philly II will establish the agency to permit this to happen in every governmental jurisdiction. At the same time, it will outlaw the corrupting influences that we see in representative government — money, media biases, etc…
Let’s say a number of people wanted to replace the federal income tax with a flat tax, how would the process work under Philly II?
Mike: First, take a national poll like Roper or Gallop and ask the people if they would like to see the Federal Tax amended to a flat tax… If 1/3rd of the people want to see this as law, then the proposal is qualified for election — merely qualified. Now we have to have a public hearing. If it is a national issue, we have hearings throughout the United States where ordinary citizens and experts testify. At the hearing (s), you have a hearing officer from the national election trust, members of Congress and sponsors of the flat tax. At the end of the hearing, changes, agreed to by the sponsor, may be made.
After the hearing it would go to Congress. Congress would have to vote on it, but their vote would work like Congressional committee system votes. This advisory vote would give people information based on how respected Congressmen voted. After the advisory vote, it is now ready for election. The Electoral Trust then produces a phamphlet listing the proponents and opponents’ stance, and that is sent to every registered voter in the country.
After the phamphlet, the Electoral Trust causes to be produced a radio and TV program which is played at prime time once in every jurisdiction… Then 50% + 1 voter decides the issue.