The Democracy Agreement


But even if we achieve these goals, they will do nothing to restore the treaty of democracy, unless what we do is guided by courtesy, mutual respect and a willingness to exchange views, not just insults. Perhaps nostalgia distorts my memory, but it seems to me that what might be described as a sense of public courtesy is not as evident in today`s political discourse as it has been in the past. When I first came to Parliament in 1956, there was a simple treaty between my constituents and myself. In these relatively simple times, people have chosen a representative who would best reflect their values and opinions in Washington. The electoral treaty focused on a binding agreement – of elected officials and voters – to defend the freedom to protect taxpayers` money and to defend the values of the Community. Today, at this dark time of institutional discontent in the Assembly, I believe that we must re-establish the original Treaty of Democracy. We need to reform the Assembly, not only to “do something” but because a reformed house can create an institutional structure that can help a member of Congress better defend a limited government and the principle of accountability to the people. But in those years, something fundamental changed, something that changed the provisions of the treaty on democracy. Increasingly, bills came to Parliament to vote on a “closed rule,” leaving no chance of amending them. Instead of the participants in the legislative process creatively amending bills through amendments, we were asked to be distributors with “yes” or “no” stamps.

The old treaty of democracy has been violated – and it is broken. Let me know you. In the Treaty of Democracy, it is the citizens who ultimately decide what the treaty will be and the people must impose the discipline to work their part of the treaty. To fulfill their contract, voters need to know what their convention is doing. These days, it`s not as simple as it sounds. My experience has taught me how there really is a two-way government: it is only when people and their representatives each fulfill their part of the treaty of democracy that democracy will work for all. If the current difficulties of the Assembly, of the institution, lead to reforms and an extension of this treaty, perhaps all the embarrassment and suffering would not have been in vain. “Contract”? The word may seem too cold and legalistic to describe the relationship between a free people and its representatives.

But our nation was based on a treaty, a binding agreement, in which, in the terms of the declaration of independence, the founders promised “in the name and authority of the good people” “our life, our fortune and our sacred honor.” Yes, there is no doubt that much of the public discontent is that Parliament needs comprehensive reform. But reforming the institution – which I strongly support – is not all we need. We also need a renewal of the democratic treaty between the people and their elected representatives, a binding agreement that has been broken and needs to be repaired. It is no coincidence that television has become the main source of information about government and coincided with the erosion of the Treaty of Democracy. Despite the presence of many talented and informed television news journalists, the media itself, which emphasizes the image of substance and the rapid sound bite on the laborious development of complex conflicts, is simply not likely to explain what is happening in this House.