Voting's not good enough

As an anti-war demonstrator, I agree with Michael Burns' criticism of demonstration street-blocking tactics [Letter, "A better way to speak: Vote," April 10, 2003] (

There are many of us who don't hide behind the First Amendment but observe the Ninth Amendment as well ("My right to demonstrate in the street ends where your right to get to the hospital begins"). The aim of demonstrations, after all, should be to remind complacent people that war is ugly and appalling in its present application, not to recreate it.

But Burns' call to leave the street altogether and just vote (once a year at most) is not a satisfactory option for many people today. Personally, I didn't vote in the last election because my ability to trust in any individual candidate for a lengthy term has been seriously and forever damaged by scandals, broken promises, and unilateral ill-considered actions– like one guy starting a war.

Our representative democracy was a fine compromise back in the days before planes and automobiles and the Internet. But today we have incredible interactive technologies that move information faster than the speed of sound at a Massachusetts Bay Colony town meeting.

We need to be moving to a system where we don't have middlemen. I'm not talking about abolishing Congress or having 280 million folks cast votes in nightly referenda. Rather, Congressmen should eventually become ceremonial figures like presidential electors, required by law to poll their constituency daily by all available means to find out exactly where the citizens stand on an issue, then be bound to vote their district's preference in session.

Until I find a candidate who wants to improve the accuracy and efficiency of democracy, I will be using every one of my powers not delegated to the United States (Tenth Amendment), including freedom of speech. Voting for fallible media-anointed figures every couple of years is not real enticing.

Kristopher Rikken