As the few stragglers left on Mike Gravel’s website have noticed, he has taken a strange interest in South Korea lately. For those of you who don’t know, he ran as both a Democrat and Libertarian for president in 2008, and was a Senator from Alaska from 1969 to 1981. Gravel apparently believes that it is going through some political events right now which may be a perfect opportunity to implement a national ballot initiative system there. For the past decade or so, Gravel has been spearheading an effort to make a similar system a reality in the United States.
A few weeks ago, Gravel presented a number of documents to some of his volunteers and posted them on his website (full disclosure: I volunteer for Gravel’s national initiative plan and I have been in contact with him about it). He has also talked about an upcoming trip to Korea. The documents are entitled “Analysis and Reasoning Behind The Korean National Initiative,” “This Korean Generation has a Rendezvous with Destiny,” and “The Korean National Initiative.” The Korean National Initiative is the proposed Korean law itself. An excerpt of This Korean Generation has a Rendezvous with Destiny follows:
The structure of representative government maintains citizens in civic adolescence by denying them the opportunity to take responsibility for their actions. Citizens are denied the power to vote directly on public policy issues and thereby take responsibility for the results of their decisions.
Civic adolescent can be overcome the same way we overcome adolescence in our children by carefully giving them more and more responsibility as they grow and gain experience thereby preparing them to become mature adults. Because policy decisions in government are only made by our representatives, the present structure of representative government denies citizens the opportunity to take responsibility for public policies that affect their lives, gain experience and mature to civic adulthood. Over time civic adolescence erodes the faith people must have in their own sovereignty if democracy is to remain vibrant and strong.
The greatest damage to the polity by representative government is the civic adolescence it engenders in its constituents. The greatest good that can come from direct democracy is the civic maturity it will engender in people. The civic maturity citizens acquire in taking responsibility for their own self-governance, not only inures to the benefit of the polity, it also adds maturity to individual citizens in their personal, family, institutional and spiritual lives.
In an email earlier today to the same volunteers which he sent the documents, Gravel announced that on his upcoming trip to Korea, he would be seeking Korean citizenship and running for a seat in the National Assembly (their unicameral legislative branch). In doing so, he hopes to bring attention to his plan for Korea and if he wins it will put him in a position to start implementing it.
Update on 4/2/09: April fool’s!